Alex Reponen has always had a passion for baking. After resigning from his work in federal government service in 2015, he was open to exploring a new career.
“I knew I wanted to do something different and I always enjoyed baking and pastry work,” he said. “I had done it as a hobby, but I decided to totally switch gears and try baking professionally to see what it was like”
To get his start, Reponen worked at a small, crowdfunded bakery in Washington D.C., where he learned the art of croissant-making and received formal baking experience to add to his years of home-training. After two years, he was eager to be creative in the kitchen again and made the move to open Dapper Fox Bakery from his own home kitchen in Alexandria, Va.
For several years, Reponen enjoyed baking everything – from custom cakes to artisan bread on commission, but during the COVID-19 pandemic, he began selling frozen bake-at-home cookie dough with unique flavors like brown butter pecan toffee. The idea came to him one night after he baked his wife a single cookie using leftover dough from a commission order. After gauging customer interest via Instagram, Reponen began offering the new product in April 2020.
“The product is filling a niche that people want. They aren’t going to their local bakery now, but there’s certainly still a need to reward yourself for enduring the stay-at-home orders or just the monotony during this pandemic.”
Since starting the cookie deliveries, Dapper Fox Bakery’s business has grown abundantly, in concert with the surge in cookie sales nationwide. On average Reponen is receiving orders for more than 900 cookies per week and making nearly 70 stops on his Friday delivery route. To get it all done, his 2012 Metallic Blue VW Golf is an essential part of the business.
When talking about his car, Reponen said, “It’s a rock star. It’s probably seen more use in the last year than ever before, but it hasn’t skipped a beat.” He added that “for a delivery vehicle, it’s pretty great.”
Reponen and his wife got familiar with the Volkswagen brand while living in Europe and quickly came to love the reliability and practicality of the vehicles. They frequently rented Volkswagen Polos to drive around London and were impressed with how many items they could squeeze inside. When it came time to purchase a car in the U.S., they knew Volkswagen would be the best brand for them.
While small and efficient for city driving, the Golf has a spacious interior that can hold all six coolers needed to store cookies during the 10-hour delivery days. As his business continues to grow, Reponen is considering an upgrade to an SUV like the Tiguan that has classic Volkswagen style, but is still easy to drive and has ample space to hold deliveries.
Even after things return to “normal,” Reponen hopes he can keep the personal connection of home deliveries as a core part of his business. He loves creating something that customers may not be able to find in a store and experiencing customers’ joyful reactions when he arrives at their doorstep.
Dapper Fox Bakery has thrived during the pandemic and Reponen is grateful for it. “I discounted at first how much joy the cookies bring people, but also how lucky I was to be out of the house and interacting with people,” he said. “The fact that it’s as a result of a successful baking business is great, but it’s one of those things that you almost feel like you would do for free if you could.”