Cookie shop owner calls out ‘beginner’ influencers asking for free products: ‘I see you don’t follow us’

Cookie shop owner calls out ‘beginner’ influencers asking for free products: ‘I see you don’t follow us’

The owner of a New York-based cookie company is going viral after calling out a “beginner influencer.”

In early May, the newly-engaged Ana Montez reached out to Halfsies Cookie Company expressing interest in collaborating with the brand ahead of her wedding. The cookie shop’s co-founder, Dave Maffei, shared the now-viral email exchange that followed — he posted screenshots to his brand’s Instagram page on May 8.

“I am Ana Montez and my fiancé and I just got ENGAGED!!! I’m tying the knot and gearing up to spoil my squad rotten!” Montez wrote in an email to Maffei. “As I dive into wedding planning, I’d love to include your amazing products in my bridal party boxes. Are you in for some bridal bliss? Let’s chat!”

When Maffei directed Montez to their order page, she responded, “I was wondering if yall do collaborations with influencers.” Montez, who had 1,380 followers on Instagram at the time of Maffei’s post, claimed she was a “beginner” in the space who had previously “collaborated with a few brands.”

Montez did not reply to’s request for comment.

Although Montez never explicitly asked for free product, Maffei tells that in recent months, he’s received an influx of requests from social media users claiming to be influencers — many of whom want free cookies specifically for bachelorette parties.

“I think it started out on TikTok as a trend,” Maffei tells in an interview.

He continues: “They’re like, ‘I want to spoil my girls. I love your products. I’ve been a fan for a long time.’ And so I responded like, ‘I see you don’t follow us. You’re a fan, but you don’t follow. And you say you’ve had our product before. You’ve ordered? What’s your order number?’”

Maffei says when he started pressing social media users for their previous order numbers, they would start ignoring his messages or deleting their messages altogether.

“This is fraud,” Maffei adds. “We’re a small business. I just feel bad for people who are being fooled by their tactics.”

Carly Hill, a communications consultant who works in influencer marketing and management, tells what metrics brands and agencies use to determine if someone is an influencer.

“I mean, really 10,000 is usually when I would say beginner influencer, but I would say micro-influencer is the term most people use,” Hill explains of someone’s follower count. “One thousand is very, very small in the influencer world. But once again, like, everyone kind of starts somewhere.”

Maffei says many social media followers — especially other small business owners — support his tactics for publicly calling out social media users who claim to be influencers for the purpose of getting free product. Still, not everyone is a fan of his now-viral posts.

“Some people who don’t understand what’s going on see me as a bully,” Maffei says. “I’m taking down the veil of privacy that they thought they had when they were acting ridiculous to me telling me lies.”

Folks shared their opinions in the comments, and many weren’t happy with how the cookie proprietor handled the situation.

“You can say no… she shot her shot,” one Instagram user wrote. “And I’m not gonna be mad at her for that. Nor should a business behave this unprofessionally. So disgusting.”

“Ok, why put her on blast on social media,” said another. “Is this company run by children? Rude and non professional. Get a grip.”

However, many social media users came to Maffei’s defense.

“Bravo for standing up for your business,” someone wrote in the comments section. “A true “influencer” is also a business and would understand what ROI is. People are just lazy and entitled.”

“The amount of these emails lately is WILD! Your responses are perfect 😂,” another user said.

Maffei says influencers who want to partner with Halfsies Cookie Co. should familiarize themselves with the brand before inquiring about a partnership or free products.

“For a new influencer, it’s probably best to buy products first and build up your following that way,” Maffei says, adding that, eventually, brands may reach out to that influencer to pursue a promotion partnership.

If his brand was interested in partnering with an influencer, Maffei says he would assess the initial investment needed and how many sales the influencer would need to make in order to break even or earn a profit.

Maffei is open to working with influencers who have at least 5,000 followers. One of his most successful partnerships has been with Amber Lancaster, a model on “The Price is Right” and an influencer with nearly 500,000 Instagram followers.

“She actually purchased cookies from us early on,”Maffei explains. “She posted about them and we saw a ton of followers come. She asked for a code; we gave her code. That code has generated over $100,000 in sales for us since we started.”

Hill advises aspiring influencers consider what strategic services they can offer the brand in exchange for free product.

“I think, for her, the biggest thing would have been creating content for them to use,” Hill says. “I think that’s kind of where this exchange failed, of her just asking for something without really sharing what she could promote as well.”

Maffei emphasizes that these collaborations can be “incredibly effective with the right person.” 

Kelly Vaughan, TODAY

Kelly Vaughan is a recipe editor for

Read More

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *