Judy and Collin Yarbrough, owners of Full Circle Bakery. Photography by Owen Jones.

JUDY COOKIES became popular in the neighborhood long before Full Circle Bakery ever started. 

Judy Yarbrough made the first batch of her self-named cookies in 1998 for Vacation Bible School at Wilshire Baptist Church. The cookies, which are also known as Texas Cow Chips, are made with chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, coconut, oatmeal and pecans. 

“Every year since then, they have asked me if I would make the Judy Cookies,” Judy says. 

Her son Collin Yarbrough says they had always joked about selling Judy’s cookies in the past. The mother-son duo never seriously considered starting a business until 2012, when Collin came up with the idea to start a for-purpose bakery. 

Collin had graduated from college around this time, but struggled to find work due to lingering effects of the recession. He made the reluctant decision to move back home with his parents in Lake Highlands.

Collin started Full Circle Bakery on Valentine’s Day in 2012 out of the Yarbrough home. The Texas Cottage Food Law had passed the year before and legalized home food businesses. Orders are done online, by email and by calling. 

Judy and Collin’s partnership began in late 2012 after Collin took on a full-time job while continuing to manage the bakery. 

“That was when I asked him if he would like for me to join him in the endeavor, and he was kind of like, ‘I thought you’d never ask,’” Judy says. “We’ve been working together since then.” 

Judy and Collin were back baking in the kitchen together as they had in Collin’s childhood. 

“I started baking because I grew up in the kitchen next to mom all the time,” Collin says. “I’m the youngest of four, and I was pretty much the only one of us that really took to being in the kitchen with mom.” 

Cookies are Full Circle Bakery’s specialty. With flavors ranging from chocolate chip to oatmeal toffee, the goods come from family recipes or Judy and Collin’s takes on classic flavors.

Texas Cow Chips, or Judy Cookies, sit with Chocolate Chocolate Chip and Chocolate Chip Pecan as Full Circle’s best-sellers. 

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Full Circle Bakery’s chocolate chocolate chip cookies, peanut butter cookies and chocolate chip peanut butter cookies.

Judy and Collin source their ingredients as locally as possible and they manufacture everything in Texas. They head just south to Oak Cliff for chocolate chips from Five Mile Chocolate.

“The proceeds go back to nonprofits here in the state,” Collin says. “So that’s where the full circle comes in. The money starts and ends in Texas.”

Judy and Collin had partnered with Dallas-based nonprofit CitySquare. Full Circle Bakery proceeds went to the nonprofit, and Judy and Collin taught classes CitySquare’s culinary arts training program.

“The way that they approach systemic change for poverty in the city and addressing the root issues around housing, health, hunger and hope just very much aligns with the way we like to work around issues of systemic injustice in our family,” Collin says.

Judy and Collin are working with Gaston Christian Center just a few minutes from their home. They leased the center’s commercial kitchen space to gain wholesale clients and expand operations before the pandemic hit.

Full Circle Bakery is in a holding pattern right now. The bakery has been closed since the COVID-19 pandemic began last March out of an abundance of caution.

“We were getting an order ready to partner with Better Block in Vickery Meadow. I remember March 23, we’re filling that order and as we were boxing it up, the city of Dallas just put in the shelter in place [order] and the event got canceled,” Collin says. “That was 10 minutes before they came to pick up the cookies. We’ve been shut down since then.”

The mother-son duo have used the past year to rethink Full Circle Bakery’s trajectory, with a special focus on giving back to the community. Judy says there are many options on the table for their next step, including potentially teaching classes out of the commercial space at Gaston Christian Center or selling cookie jar mixes.

While working with family has its ups and downs, Judy and Collin are able to complement each other’s strengths and make up for each other’s weaknesses.

“I’m the dare taker,” Judy says. Collin says, “I’m a little bit more cautious, but [Judy sees] into the future in a way that I can’t. I think my engineering background helps build the foundation for whatever vision [she’s] trying to implement.”