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Broomfield food startup U-LUV Foods’ ‘cookies with compassion’ making inroads in allergy conscious market

In response to coronavirus pandemic, company giving away hand sanitizer with every three-pack purchase

  • U-LUV Foods co-founder Joel Tartarini puts a tray of cookies on a rack before baking them to fill customer orders on Tuesday, April 28, 2020, in Broomfield. The company is including a free bottle of hand sanitizer with each cookie three-pack order as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Jeremy Papasso/Staff Photographer)

  • U-LUV Foods co-founder Debbie Tartarini bottles hand sanitizer for a customer shipment on Tuesday, April 28, 2020, in Broomfield. The company is including a free bottle of American-made sanitizer with each cookie three-pack order as a response to the current COVID-19 pandemic. (Jeremy Papasso/Staff Photographer)

  • U-LUV Foods co-founder Joel Tartarini makes spicy ginger cookies for customer shipments on Tuesday, April 28, 2020, in Broomfield. (Jeremy Papasso/Staff Photographer)

  • U-LUV Foods Co-founder J.J. Tartarini packages cookies for customer orders on Tuesday, April 28, 2020, in Broomfield. (Jeremy Papasso/Staff Photographer)

  • U-LUV Foods Co-founders Debbie Tartarini, front, and her son Joel Tartarini package hand sanitizer for a customer shipment on Tuesday, April 28, 2020, in Broomfield. (Jeremy Papasso/Staff Photographer)

  • A customers order sits on a shelf waiting to be shipped at U-LUV Foods on Tuesday, April 28, 2020, in Broomfield. (Jeremy Papasso/Staff Photographer)

  • U-LUV Foods Co-founder Joel Tartarini makes cookies for a customer order on Tuesday, April 28, 2020, in Broomfield. The company is including a free bottle of hand sanitizer with each cookie three-pack order as a response to the current COVID-19 pandemic. (Jeremy Papasso/Staff Photographer)

  • U-LUV Foods co-founder J.J. Tartarini packages brownie cookies for customer orders on Tuesday, April 28, 2020, in Broomfield. (Jeremy Papasso/Staff Photographer)

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The Tartarinis’ cookie company startup, U-LUV Foods LLC, might be described as mom’s baking with a vegan, allergy-conscious twist. Owned and operated by four family members, the Broomfield-based company is gaining fans for its sweet treats.

U-LUV in January started selling on Amazon along with its own e-commerce website. With the exposure on Amazon, sales spiked, said JJ Tartarini, a company co-founder who serves as vice president of sales. In its first month, 40 bags of cookies were sold. Now the small team of four family members is selling more than 200 bags a week.

By the time U-LUV turns a year old this summer, its cookies will hit Rocky Mountain region Whole Foods shelves. Whole Foods has not commented on how many stores will sell U-LUV cookies.

U-LUV, based in Broomfield, had its roots in the scratch cooking Debbie Tartarini prepared for her family. But the idea for the company really came together when she started baking gluten-free treats for her husband, Jim Tartarini, after he was diagnosed with stomach cancer in the early 2000s. Nearly a decade later she started taking cinnamon rolls to local farmers markets with her sons JJ and Joel Tartarini.

The farmers market stand turned into Bowbeas LLC, a gluten-free cookie company. It operated from 2013 until last year, closing to put energy into U-LUV. The family’s first business didn’t cater to as many dietary and allergy restrictions as U-LUV.

JJ Tartarini said his mother’s talent with baked goods and the necessary diet change for his father’s health led to the birth of a company.

“My mom always had a gift of baking. And so, the two kind of came together, and it took us a while to kind of make it into something but the real starter came from this forced diet change,” said JJ Tartarini, who serves as vice president of sales and co-founder of U-LUV.

U-LUV’s cookies are free of milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat and soybeans. They also are vegan and crafted in small batches.

There are three flavors: snickerdoodle, spicy ginger and brownie. Debbie Tartarini develops the recipes.

U-LUV’s mission statement is “Cookies with compassion.” Around 10% of U-LUV’s revenues are donated to various causes, such as Denver Dream Center, a Christian-based nonprofit organization and church that supports teens and children, JJ Tartarini said.

In step with that mission, the company also has started giving away a bottle of hand sanitizer with every three pack purchase in response to the coronavirus pandemic and the demand for sanitizer.

The company bought Federal Drug Administration and World Health Organization-approved sanitizer in bulk from a Denver manufacturer and is packaging it in 30 milliliter glass bottles to ship out with its treats, JJ Tartarini said.

“We want to be able to do more than just make good cookies, or good snacks that are good for you. We want to have a mission that people can get behind and they can actually be part of,” he said.

Working with family isn’t always sweet and the Tartarinis had to learn how to separate personal and professional spaces as their company keeps growing, JJ Tartarini said.

“We’ve had to learn how to check that at the door and put boundaries around things so that when come Easter, come Christmas, come these other things, it’s not a U-LUV Foods sales meeting,” he said.

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