By: Tyler Tripp, Staff Writer
“Portland is a little city, but it certainly packs a punch”, Katherine Slevin said with a smile. The same could be said about Slevin and her small business startup, The C. Love Cookie Project.
The C. Love Cookie Project is a Portland, Maine-based company that was incorporated in 2017 with the goal of providing aid to the immigrant community that now calls Portland home. It donates 21 percent of its sales to three local charities in three different stages, according to Slevin. In 2018, her cookies began popping up all over Portland.
Slevin is a classically trained pastry chef who has worked all over the world, as well as Portland. “I have had extensive baking and pastry training throughout my entire career. I have worked in incredible kitchens and under some amazing chefs, like Standard Baking Co.”
However,, Slevin put her life on hold in 2016 to pursue a cause that was bigger than herself.
She moved to the island of Lesvos to volunteer at the Moria refugee camp during the Syrian refugee crisis to help displaced people start a new life in a foreign country. “I was like, I need to go. It was very, very crowded, with thousands of refugees coming to Moria. It was extremely difficult.” According to Slevin, she was tasked with clothing distribution for the entire camp, and quickly became one of the lead volunteers, meeting with representatives of humanitarian aid organizations and the Greek government frequently.
“There were only a couple hundred volunteers to literally thousands of refugees. I would come home at the end of the day feeling discouraged that I didn’t help enough people. It changed my life and the trajectory of it.”
When Slevin came back after months of volunteer work in Greece, she decided that she would do what she could to help people struggling and suffering in her own community.
“Having had that experience in Greece, I knew that I had to do something to help in a more organized way than just donating money to immigrants and internationals.”
Slevin realized that she could use her skill set to bring people together through one common bond…cookies. “I’m a simple person, and cookies are approachable,” she said “Every culture has their own type of cookie and they cross cultural boundaries; they cross age boundaries. My almost 80-year-old father loves them just as my 3-year-old niece loves them.”
Slevin would not stop at just making cookies and selling them to the community. She decided to bring the community into her kitchen by instructing baking and pastry classes.
“The goal is to make people feel welcome. Kitchens are such a welcoming space,” she said. “When you are at a gathering at someone’s house, everyone always seems to be hanging out in and around the kitchen whether there is a beautiful dining room or living room. That idea, with people coming from all over the world, especially many women, that is their comfortable place. I want that to be the feel; make people feel welcome no matter what, where they come from, whether or not they speak English or not…that’s it.”
Slevin brings a variety of different cookies to the table and is not shy about the rich ingredients that she uses in her product line. “I’m obsessed with butter,” chuckled Slevin. “People who don’t even know me come up to me and say ‘someday your gravestone will say, this woman loves butter’.” She paused. “Yeah, I want that.”
Her trademark cookie is the classic chocolate chip, but her flavors also include a line of “Dude” cookies, inspired by snickerdoodles. “I get bored with cinnamon, so I decided to come up with a line of some of my favorite flavors like Coffee, Lavender, Nutmeg, and Vanilla,” said Slevin.
Slevin is most proud of her “Dope” cookie. It is an homage to a list of positive affirmations and reflections that she wrote in a journal while in Greece, which Slevin refers to as “The Dope and Nope List”. Also, keep an eye out for her new Summit cookie with dark chocolate and dried cherries.
Slevin said she has high hopes for her business’ mission and faith in the consumers who purchase her cookies regularly. “As long as a business is honest about their cause, I think it is a really important movement and shows that people in our generation actually do [care],” said Slevin.