After a temporary closure in March, Berkeley resident and Nuttin’ Butter Cookies owner Whitney Singletary began serving her community from her home kitchen.
At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Singletary said she closed her business to regroup and figure out her next steps. She decided not to renew her lease because it was too expensive and moved her operation back to her home on Dwight Way.
As a result, the San Pablo storefront is now permanently closed, but Singletary is offering curbside pickup and delivery.
“I feel so humbled and blessed to be able to do what I love to do,” Singletary said. “Until they figure out what they’re going to do, I’ll be in my driveway, being consistent with my customers.”
Singletary founded Nuttin’ Butter Cookies in 2015 using her great-great-great-grandmother’s peanut butter cookie recipe. Since then, she has expanded her menu to 13 different nut butter and seed options.
Despite the financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, Singletary said, as a Black business owner, the recent surge in protests, as well as support and awareness of the Black Lives Matter movement, has been good for business.
She added that customers were looking for small, local Black-owned businesses to support and were happy to patronize her shop. In fact, Nuttin’ Butter Cookies is currently doing better than it was before the pandemic.
“If it hadn’t been for that, I would have been sitting here trying to figure out my next move in regard to how to get customers to come to me,” Singletary said.
Throughout the pandemic, Singletary faced obstacles when attempting to secure small business relief loans. She added that she tried to get funds from the federal Small Business Administration, but was denied because of unsatisfactory credit.
In the five years that Nuttin’ Butter Cookies has been running, Singletary said she has not missed a single payment, but when the pandemic hit, she was unable to pay two of her bills. She added that this subsequently harmed her credit record and she could not get loans.
The recent increase in sales, however, has made enough revenue to offset some of the original costs, according to Singletary.
“I got my own relief; I raised it myself with the support of my community,” Singletary said.
While working from home, Singletary was also responsible for managing her children’s online education as Berkeley Unified School District transitioned to distance learning.
Singletary said she was a “master hurdle jumper” and would help her kids with technology and school, while also baking cookies.
In the future, Singletary hopes to open a full bakery, which may prove to be easier than she originally anticipated now that there are more vacant locations due to closures from the COVID-19 pandemic.