Junita Flowers, owner of Favorable Treats
Junita Flowers of Favorable Treats sidesteps obstacles by celebrating success
On stage, she appeared unassuming and at ease as she sat with a panel of three other business owners at the Minnesota Business Executive Breakfast Forum last fall. As she answered every question, I was struck by Junita Flowers’ candor and energy. Junita has always had the entrepreneurial spirit, wanting to own a coffee shop since age 12. Her business, Favorable Treats, is the manifestation of that dream in the cookie business. Her journey wasn’t without its challenges. Junita had a thriving career in nonprofit management, and — once she had children — she left it to pursue the humble beginnings of Favorable Treats at a farmers market, working to be fully available as both Mom and business owner. It worked for a while, until the business grew. Junita now leases a shared kitchen and has contracts with multiple organizations while also selling cookie dough in grocery stores throughout the Twin Cities.
In 2015, Junita came to a crossroads in both her marriage and her business — it was a choice to embrace the uncertainty of growth personally and professionally or staying right where she was. After considerable efforts, Junita decided to leave her marriage. It was an especially difficult choice because by choosing to leave, her “safety net” was gone. Always the optimist, she forged ahead, sharing that “hard is better than miserable.” After years of silencing her voice, Junita realized she needed to set a different example for her son and daughter, ages 10 and 13. Not being a runner, she signed up for the NYC marathon in 2003, which proved to be the goal she needed to reclaim her voice. Although “the hard stuff doesn’t stop,” Junita shares that she “finally took back permission to speak my truth. I said to myself, ‘You’re bigger than this.’” Junita finished the marathon while embracing her new future. She found her voice and learned to celebrate her successes along the way. “When I celebrate,” she says, “I can step back and realize I’ve been in tough situations before and I know how to handle them. It helps me move forward faster.” This past Mother’s Day, Junita’s daughter wrote her a card that said, “Mommy, you inspire me to work hard.” This is all the fuel she needs to catalyze her continued personal and professional growth.
Letting go to grow
Like most entrepreneurs, when Junita founded Favorable Treats she did everything herself. From baking the dough to painting the little pots her cookie bouquets were originally delivered in, Junita had a hand in everything. She soon realized this was not an effective strategy, reflecting that she “was making like 600 different flavors of cookies and you’d need to call six months ahead of time just to get an order.” So, while she focused and limited the offerings, however, Junita believes a lot of her success can be attributed to “things falling into place.” For example, her first contract came from a chef who shared kitchen space with her. “It kind of fell into my lap,” remembers Junita. “It showed me everything you need really is within reach.” With the guidance of a business consultant and her own “do it anyway” philosophy, Junita is more comfortable taking risks than ever before. She knows she must have the courage to let go to grow. This has led to increased success but also to a capacity crossroad. Although it would be more efficient to manufacture her cookies elsewhere, Junita still feels the ownership she did in her early farmers market days. She’s concerned, and wants the cookies “to taste the same as when I make them.”
Cookies and beyond
Junita’s ultimate goal is to inspire others. Her blog — She Laughed, She Cried, She Inspired — is the first step in what she hopes will become a career as a motivational speaker. “You go through life and have these experiences,” says Junita. “Some will make you laugh until your belly hurts and some will make you cry until your eyes are red and dry. At the end of the day though, the goal is to have all those experiences inspire your journey and then ultimately someone else’s.”
In addition to inspiring others through her speaking, Junita is working to become a national brand, giving “everyone in the country the opportunity to experience Favorable Treats frozen cookie dough.” This goal stems from more than just wanting to share delicious cookies. Junita also wants to help families create memories of baking together. Growing up, Junita often baked with her mother and grandmother, and still uses their recipes today. She remembers things like asking to lick the beater and her grandmother sharing stories of growing up on a farm in Mississippi. “We’d always hear some crazy outlandish story of how hard life was,” says Junita. “It gave us a connection to our history.” With the convenience of her Favorable Treats frozen cookie dough, Junita hopes today’s busy families will be able to create similar loving memories with more convenience. As she continues her journey, Junita makes a point to keep celebrating little and big wins because “Celebrating keeps me from focusing on the obstacles.”
Sue Hawkes, CEO of YESS!, is a Certified EOS Implementer, Certified Business Coach, WPO Chapter Chair, bestselling author and award-winning entrepreneur. She has been helping entrepreneurs and leadership teams succeed for the past 20+ years.