Sabeena Ladha, founder and CEO of DEUX (pronounced dough) is enhancing traditional cookie-dough with immunity boosting ingredients. Made to be eaten straight from the jar or baked into ooey-gooey treats, the top-selling cookie-dough brand has landed itself on the shelves of Erewhon, Whole Foods, and most recently into the Shark Tank. We recently caught up with her right after the premiere of her appearance on Shark Tank to learn more about her thoughts on business, food, gifting and more!
Deux was inspired by dreaming of a better, perhaps more delicious, method of consuming daily supplemental vitamins. For anyone who isn’t already aware, can you share a bit about what you make at Deux and what makes it so different from other cookie doughs?
We make good-for-you cookie dough! Not only have we cleaned up the ingredients list - no refined sugars, no dairy, no gluten, no BS… but we’ve added in functional ingredients like elderberry, Zinc, aloe vera, and maca. And we’ve made everything so delicious it tastes like it should be bad for you.
Foods that are vegan/gluten free/ “healthy fill-in-the-blank”, as you call it, are often marketed specifically “for vegans” etc. You make a point of distinguishing that it doesn’t need to be put in a box as “this is specifically for vegans” but instead you want to reframe the conversation and create healthy foods that can be enjoyed by everyone. Why was this important to you and how did that impact the personality of the brand?
One of our core values is making wellness accessible - that’s why the vehicle for these functional ingredients is a fun cookie dough that you can eat straight from the jar. Often wellness & nutrition are taken really seriously, but the personality of DEUX is to be able to bring it to the mainstream without scaring people away by new ingredients.
You started Deux on Instagram as a side hustle, set a sales goal for December 2020 that if you were to reach you’d quit your jobs full time. You ended up reaching that goal in October which allowed you to take the leap and fully focus on the growth of Deux. Do you have any advice for inspiring founders on navigating those early days of a business that can be quite scary and setting yourself up for success as much as possible?
Test the product and have some proof points...and have a backup plan. I was nervous but confident I had to leave my job and run DEUX full time because the numbers were insane. But at the end of the day I could always go back to consulting if I needed to. It’s definitely not the “sleep on your friend’s couch and eat ramen” story, but I also believe you can set yourself up for success early on and de-risk the leap a bit!
The early stages of any company comes with a lot of effort towards building a meaningful employee culture. How has using Goody to celebrate employee milestones helped impact the healthy culture that you’re building?
Not joking that the whole team knows for any celebration or victory or partner gift, Goody is our go-to. We use it in a number of ways but most commonly 1. To celebrate deuxversaries & big “moments” 2. To say thank you, especially for weeks that are harder for certain people or where they’ve really pushed… 3. For our partners (manufacturers, agencies, influencers) - birthdays or just general thinking of you and happy you are a part of our team! It really goes a long way, and they love the types of gifts on there, along with the optionality to swap.
Since you’re such an avid Goody gifter, we’d love to hear your top 3 favorite gifts to send via Goody!
1. Carbone sauces - this one always wins, without fail. Not one person has swapped this gift!
2. The reBoard by Material - I haven’t gifted this as much but several people have swapped to this so I think it’s a gift people want but may not buy for themselves.
3. Am I allowed to say DEUX? Truly all people have been asking me lately for is gifts of DEUX with our new holiday gold scoops and cutters. It’s a funny ask but I love it.
Congrats on your Shark Tank appearance - that’s incredibly exciting! Can you share with us what that experience was like?
It was wild! You only see 6-7 minutes of it on TV, but it is a lot of prep, resources, and time that goes into it. Aside from that, it was one of the most adrenaline inducing moments I’ve ever had in my career - now every other pitch or conversation feels like a piece of cake. Overall I’m super grateful for the experience and exposure for the brand, and I think there are a few interesting conversations that will come out of it about female leaders / founders…
With your new holiday flavors in addition to the originals it can be really tough to choose which to select! What Deux flavors are in your current rotation?
The holiday flavors are to die for! I have DEUX everyday, and the last couple weeks I’ve had Pumpkin Spice, Sugar + Spice, and Gingerbread on rotation. I air fry them so they get toasted on top and bottom and then are soft and gooey on the inside. It’s divine… and also makes the best gift for Thanksgiving or the holidays.