Smyrna Black Business Owner Reflects On Bringing Gourmet To The ATL, Continuing His Father’s Legacy

The second time was a charm for Ashley Carlton, who decided to follow in his father’s footsteps and create a gourmet cookie shop when he moved to Atlanta.

SMYRNA, Ga. — As people walk into Not As Famous Cookie Company, the smell of baked goods will enchant them as it seeps from the oven, but what most people don’t know is the journey it took a Black business owner to carry out his passion.

The second time was a charm for Ashley Carlton, who followed in his father’s footsteps and created a gourmet cookie shop in Smyrna. The company has been around for eight years.

“I have recipes that have been passed down from a generationI’ve known about these recipes for close to 40 years now, finally getting out to the masses,” he said. 

During Black History Month, Carlton remembers those who came before him while stepping in to help his community. 

“Black History Month, to me, is recognizing all the ones that have come before us. Everybody just allowed us to basically live our wildest dreams,” Carlton said. 

Following in his father’s footsteps

Carlton remembers the first time he made his very first cookie was when he was a child with his father. 

The business owner said his father owned a bakery. Unfortunately, his father had to choose between taking care of six kids and owning the shop — ultimately losing it. 

“I saw it as a kid. I wasn’t of age to really help out then. But I knew that, you know, this was a kind of just my guide to entrepreneurship,” he said.

Carlton would then move to Atlanta in 2008 from Indianapolis to carry out his father’s dream and his own passion for baking cookies. A good friend encouraged him to start his business, who he described as his own personal “hype man.”

Soaring through the struggles

According to Carlton’s website, he began his business when he moved to Atlanta, but the mortgage collapse led him back to square one in a brand-new city. 

He then went into the corporate scene after his business failed and learned from other small business owners, making him come back even stronger. 

“I think the biggest thing is just being your own boss. I saw a lot of things in corporate that were not for me. So for me, being an entrepreneur and living on my own terms,” Carlton said. 

He opened his first food truck back in 2015 after his corporate stint and then graduated to a brick-and-mortar shop in Smyrna in 2021.

But when looking for a home for his storefront, he overcame many adversities, including struggles with his landlord. After providing all the documentation, he said it took 15 months to get his business up and running. 

He did not let his struggles get in his way as years later, he now mentors the youth, teaching them about the world of business and the importance of Black entrepreneurship.

“I speak a lot to the youth and even my staff to try to help them out by teaching them about entrepreneurship, stuff like that, that actually helps them out,” Carlton said. 

He has also worked with several major companies, like Delta and Truist, and even some celebrities. Carlton even met the Black Panther cast, including Chadwick Boseman. 

“Warm and gooey” cookies 

On to the delicious part of his story, Carlton said the first cookie he ever sold was his Chocolate Chip Cookie – an OG flavor. 

“We’re known for that. It’s a sweet yet has a little bit of sea salt on it. People just love it,” he added.

The gourmet cookie maker also said that his business has nine flavors that switch each month — three that stay on the menu and six that rotate. 

His favorite cookie is his peanut butter chocolate chip pretzel because of its blend of sweet and salty flavors. Another favorite of Carlton’s is the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup cookie. 

“That one, you know, we glaze it with a peanut butter coat on top. Cups go inside, and it’s a chocolate base,” he said. 

For each holiday and special occasion, the company adds a new flavor. This month, his company had a Valentine’s Day sugar and M&M cookie. 

And because the company is based in the Peach State, Georgia has its own cookie — a red velvet base with white chocolate chips. 

What’s next?

Despite starting his business years ago, Carlton claims he’s only just getting started. 

He is floating around the idea of franchising and possibly opening new stores but is currently going to focus on his storefront and food truck. 

Carlton believes young entrepreneurs should be ready to sacrifice to achieve their dreams of starting a business.

“If you really want to be an entrepreneur, spend every hour you’re not at work working on your dream, working on that business,” the business owner added. “If you believe it, fight for what you believe in.”

Metro Atlanta Black business, gourmet cookie shop owner reflects on his journey to preserving family history

11Alive invites you to embark on a journey of unapologetic stories that have shaped Atlanta’s past, present and future this Black History Month. Check out our collection of stories: “DREAM x DISRUPT: Black Atlanta’s Bold Movement” at or check out the video below.

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