Trial and Error

by Mariana Lessmann

After selling our first Vookies in NY, Matt and I had to deal with our first problem in the business. We couldn’t keep selling our alfajores anymore at the local coffee place Book Revue. Matt and I visited other coffee shops and restaurants in Huntington and gave away free samples of Vookies. We were expecting to sell more of our delicious gluten-free cookie sandwiches somewhere. By that time Matt and I were planning a trip to Costa Rica to spend New Year’s Eve there, so we put Vookies on standby. As part of our traveling plans together, we flew to San Jose on December 31 and spent New Year’s Eve at my sister’s.

We wanted to make Vookies in Costa Rica to sell them there, so we went food shopping. The city where we were staying turned out to be not gluten-free friendly. We didn’t have luck finding safe ingredients for celiacs, thus we couldn’t make our alfajores. After spending two weeks in Costa Rica, we flew to Colombia where we were planning living for the next 6 months. We arrived at this nice hotel in Medellin with a breathtaking view.

A valley surrounded by mountains and tall buildings was our daily view.

I loved the view because it reminded me of my hometown: Caracas.

Matt and I started looking for gluten-free ingredients to make Vookies and ship them from Medellin to the US. But it wasn’t a very good idea. The shipping prices and the cost of importing gluten-free ingredients from the US were too expensive. So our idea was not profitable. Matt and I started brainstorming about what to do next. Running our company Vookies seemed a little difficult but it was something we wanted to do. During the first months in Medellin, I cooked a lot. At first, I cooked for my boyfriend and me as an obligation. Since there were not so many gluten-free food options, I had to be creative in the kitchen with the few safe ingredients we had. I received a lot of compliments on the meals I made and this inspired me while cooking. I started trying new recipes to make our diet not boring, but fun. Most of the meals I made didn’t Matt (who is celiac) feel sick. The first recipe I tried was bagels. I was searching for the gluten-free “Against the Grain” brand recipe because it’s a safe brand for celiacs and tastes delicious. I ended up finding a recipe that someone posted online and I thought it was going to work. Few ingredients and a short preparation process (how I like recipes to be). I was very careful about following every step without missing any details. The result of this recipe was a complete fail. The dough was liquid instead of solid, and when baking it in the oven, the bread was not soft or spongy. I was upset because I followed the directions of the recipe carefully and I made it more than three times. But I realized that me following someone else’s recipe was the problem. What may have worked for someone else may not work exactly the same for me. So I decided that I would make the recipe following my own criteria. I modified that same recipe by adding more ingredients, and the result was exactly what I wanted: spongy and delicious bagels. From that moment I started modifying every single recipe I found, and the result was better than expected. After my “experiment” with those bagels, I started to feel like sharing my recipes and cooking tips. So I started putting all my recipes together in a special place: “The Easy Gluten-Free Recipe Cookbook”.  

by Mariana Lessmann


We are Mariana Lessmann and Matt Ackerson.

Mariana graduated from Communications & Journalism in Caracas, Venezuela, and has over 10 years of experience as a writer. She has worked on Digital Marketing, and for over 10 prestigious Cable Television Channels aired in Latin America.  

Matt graduated from Cornell University in New York. He started his own company in 2010, and has been running it by himself since then. Matt is an expert in Marketing, Sales, and creating 6-Figure Funnels for online businesses.

Over the past year we decided to start a company together and created "Vookies", that later expanded and became "Be Breader". We have been helping celiacs around the world to optimize and improve their health by incorporating safe and delicious meals into their daily menus.


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