Since its foundation in 2014, Hamden-based bakery Moon Rocks quickly rose to prominence. Within just four, the woman-owned business was a nationally recognized small business selected to represent the best of small businesses on Capitol Hill. How did a new bakery make it so far in such a short amount of time? It took a life-long passion and a lot of really good cookies.
Moon Rocks founders, a mother and daughter duo, started the company later in life than many other entrepreneurs. Cynthia Rose, the mother, had a life-long passion waiting for an opportunity. As a single mom, Rose worked three jobs to put herself through culinary school while putting food on the table. Though she had the qualifications, Rose had trouble finding work in the food industry and wouldn’t find it until she was nearly 75 years old.
“We started on September 13th, 2014, on my wedding anniversary,” said Marni Rae-Esposito, co-founder of and the daughter behind Moon Rocks. “My mom was a single mom and she worked three jobs and put herself through culinary school. She created our original recipe cookie from scratch on her own and we made that my whole life. My mom's dream was to have a cookie store and so in 2014, I left my corporate job and said let’s go.”
Before leaving her job to achieve her family’s dream, Rae-Esposito worked jobs that taught her management skills that would go on to synergize with her mother’s culinary expertise to create a successful business.
“[Before Moon Rocks] I worked in human resources for one of Connecticut's largest banks,” Rae-Esposito said, “So I've used all of that. I also worked in fast food where I was a manager for McDonald's many, many years ago. And in all honesty, more than anything I've used that knowledge to start this business.”
With her business savvy, it wouldn’t take long for Moon Rocks to grow. In a year’s time, Moon Rocks would expand and move into its storefront in October 2015 where it resides today at 2518 Whitney Ave in Hamden. Soon after the owners acquired their food truck, which frequents local universities and events, such as last July’s Hamden Fest, where the truck served cookies to their community.
Since its founding, Moon Rocks has been a standout business in the area, with multiple “Best of New Haven” awards as well as recognition as one of Connecticut’s best small businesses in 2018 and recently 2021. The business’ distinction as one of the best is no fluke; it’s a result of two lifetimes of learning.
“Every job you have, if I could give advice, every job you have, try to embrace it,” Rae-Esposito said. “Even if you don't love the job, try to approach it, this is a learning experience. You're learning from that job the things you like to do, things you don't like to do, how you liked being treated, how you don't like being treated like whatever it is. Every job is a learning experience. And you never know when you're going to use those skills someplace else because you don't know where your journey is going to take you.”