Brittany Barlow admits she has a sweet tooth. And though she enjoys eating lots of different desserts, her go-to and the only one she really likes to make is cookies.
A Springfield native, Barlow graduated from Shawnee High School and attended Wright State University (WSU), where she majored in middle childhood education and earned her Master’s in middle childhood education math and science.
Though she loved teaching, she was always drawn to the kitchen. During a summer off while she was at WSU, Barlow even took some culinary classes at Sinclair Community College for fun. While she enjoyed them, she wasn’t sure at the time what path they would lead her down.
Fast forward a few years, and Barlow was teaching at Northwestern Elementary School. She was still baking cookies anytime she had a craving for sweets, and she’d always bring cookies along to get togethers because of how much she enjoyed baking.
“It was around then that my mom mentioned I should sell cookies on Etsy,” Barlow says. “At first I thought it was weird, but my mom looked it up and showed me other people selling cookies on there.”
While the idea sat in the back of Barlow’s head for awhile, it never went away. Then, in July 2018, she decided she needed to put her creativity to use in the kitchen.
That month, she posted on Facebook asking if anyone was interested in buying cookies – her signature oatmeal chocolate chip – and she quickly had her first sale.
She came up with a name for her shop – Oats & Doughs – created a logo, set up a shop on Etsy, and started sharing her treats to help spread the word.
“I would take boxes to coffee places and drop them off with business cards. I sent some with my husband to work and with my step-dad to his work and for his clients,” Barlow says.
Between word of mouth and social media, Barlow’s cookie business started to take off about six months after her first sale.
Oats & Doughs was booming through the beginning of 2019, but Barlow was still teaching, so she was working around the clock to keep up with cookie orders during her hours at home.
“I would get to school before 8 (a.m.) and about 5:15 (p.m.) I’d get home. I’d get dinner ready for the kids, and I’d start a batch of cookies or two,” Barlow says. “At the time, I would put them in a single oven. The oven I had would only do one dozen at a time, so I would be up until 2 or 3 in the morning baking. Then I’d get up to go to work at school, and do the whole thing again the next day.”
In addition to individual orders, Barlow was a regular at the Winter Market at Mother Stewart’s Brewing Company.
Oats & Doughs also presented itself as a company with a strong social media game. The followers added up quickly and they became dedicated to drooling over photos of cookies, playing along in challenges to try to win delicious prizes, and getting a laugh at the many memes Barlow posts.
Her followers and customers were happy to be along for the ride and were excited when her treats started making weekly appearance at Champion City Guide and Supply and Winan’s Chocolates and Coffees in downtown Springfield in Spring 2019.
Barlow carried on with her busy cookie schedule through the end of that school year. And, in May 2019, she felt she could build her cookie-making side hustle into a fulltime business. She decided to leave her teaching job and focus solely on growing Oats & Doughs.
She purchased a new oven that could bake 10 dozen cookies at a time, and says, “I got everything ready to go.”
But, as life sometimes does, it threw Barlow and her family a curveball she could never have planned for.
Barlow, her husband Andy and their two kids took a trip to Tennessee in June 2019. It was a great trip, until Barlow received a call from a house sitter who stopped by and found their home flooded from top floor to basement because of a malfunctioning water line.
“Water ran for three days. Everything was wet. Everything was ruined all the way to the basement, down to the studs,” she says.
So, right in the middle of her business booming, Barlow had to slow back down. Her family rented a condo from June through October while their house was renovated, and she was back down to one small oven.
During that setback, she baked a few small orders when she could, and continued to sell her cookie-scented candles at the Springfield Farmer’s Market, but both she and her customers were ready for her to be back in business.
In November 2019, Barlow made her first big sales appearance since “the great flood” at a winter craft show, and once again, her customers didn’t disappoint. She sold out of hundreds of cookies in the first 30 minutes of the show.
“I was like, ‘Well, I guess I’m still relevant,’” Barlow laughed.
She followed the show with a popup shop at her house last December, where once again her dedicated following showed up, and she sold out quickly.
With her home fixed and her new oven ready for business, Barlow was set to get back to work and started back to her weekly cookie drop off at Winan’s in January 2020. But, like many other small businesses, Oats & Doughs had to take pause in March when the coronavirus pandemic and shutdowns made Barlow’s typical baking supplies scarce.
After taking a few months off, her cookies have been back as a weekly staple in Winan’s since August.
Even with the unforeseen setbacks, Barlow is excited she took the leap into entrepreneurship and followed her cookie-baking dreams.
“It’s cool to be the owner of my own company and have that for my kids to see,” she says.
She likes making just about any sweet treat into a delicious cookie form – including donuts, Pop Tarts, Butterfingers, Oreos, s’mores, peanut butter and jelly, and more. Up next, customers can be on the lookout for a yet-to-be-released pumpkin cheesecake cookie.
Barlow has also used her strong social media following to give back to the community she’s so committed to. She’s done multiple fundraisers for The Salvation Army of Springfield, including her Cookies for a Cause fundraiser in May 2020 in which she raised $1,740 for the organization.
“I learned about what all they do and how they support the community, and I wanted to be a part of it any way I could,” Barlow says.
In the future, Barlow says she’d love to have a brick and mortar shop, but that she’s not in a hurry to make that happen.
“Right now my focus is on my babies and being here for them,” Barlow says. “Time goes so fast, and I’ve learned that as I’ve gotten older, and it can be gone in the blink of an eye. I don’t want to miss anything, and I don’t want to be away.”
Barlow says she’s thankful she can continue her baking dreams while still taking the time to commit to being with her kids, and she’s happy with that flexibility.
But, when she does open a storefront eventually, she knows there’s no place else she would rather it be.
“I was born and raised here. My whole family is here,” Barlow says. “I love the forward motion that Springfield has with all of the growth downtown and in the Bechtle Avenue area.
“I would love to put my little footprint here.”