Sober CEO Pitches Recovery-Minded Cookie Dough Biz On "Shark Tank"

By Victoria Kim 05/09/19

Kelsey Witherow decided to publicly share her recovery journey after her appearance on the popular show.

Sober Cookie Dough CEO Kelsey Witherow
Photo via YouTube

Even though entrepreneur Kelsey Witherow couldn’t snag a deal on last Sunday’s episode of Shark Tank, she’s moving forward with expanding her business—with a message of hope on the side.

Witherow, who is going on four years sober, is the founder and CEO of Doughp, a safe-to-eat raw cookie dough business based in the Bay Area. She shared her recovery journey with her local ABC News station.

Witherow was making six figures working for Intel in her early twenties, but bottomed out during a business trip to Barcelona. “With all the pressure I put on myself through those years, it was inevitable something else was going to break,” she said.

She started drinking at age 15, but later on she began to realize that it was more than a phase. “It’s a crazy journey. Like a lot of us, you have these young drinking years that get passed off as just you’re going to grow out of it and you’ll be fine. But very quickly I realized this wasn’t something I was growing out of,” she said. “It was a wakeup call. I said, I want to be the best version of myself every single day, and alcohol is stoping me from doing that.”

She decided that her drinking wasn’t doing her any good. “I had an on-and-off relationship with alcohol and it was holding me back from doing something more with my life,” she said.

It was difficult to admit that she had a problem, she confessed. She told Minutes magazine, “I knew I was capable of more. I knew I had more to give to the world. And I knew I never wanted to feel like that again.”

Upon quitting her tech job, she embarked on her sober journey. During this early stage of her recovery, she fell in love with baking sweets. “I was just alive in the kitchen,” she said. “The precision and focus is exactly what I needed and it was really cathartic for me to create something and be giving it to someone.”

After leaving Shark Tank with no deal, Witherow said she was “surprised” that the Sharks didn’t “bite,” but that didn’t stop her from moving forward with plans to expand her business. Less than six months after taping the episode, she opened another location in Las Vegas.

Witherow is not only dishing out sweets—she’s furnished her entire business with a message of hope inspired by how much recovery has helped her accomplish.

“I launched the #Doughp4Hope initiative with the company to raise more awareness about mental health and addiction,” she said. “In our storefronts, I wanted to create a place where people feel safe to engage and have this opportunity to have raw interaction and a conversation. We also have mental health certification for all our staff.”

Through Doughp, Witherow is promoting recovery in her own way. Every six months, she invents a new “Doughp4Hope Remix” flavor, with 100% of the profits going to a different charity organization.

To celebrate the opening of Doughp’s former Market Street location back when Witherow marked her two-year sober milestone, she offered 20% off to customers who said “It’s dope to be sober” at the register. 

Witherow said on her blog that ever since she went public with her story, she was “blown away by the support” she received.

She shared one message from a fan with ABC News. “I just got this message this morning: There are days I feel like giving up on this journey and return to drinking. I was in my home office and have the TV on and heard your story and I paused and had to rewind. Congrats. You are awesome.”

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr

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