Cookie Shop Owner Calls Out 'Beginning' Influencer, Shares Messages of Her Requesting Free Treats for Her Bridesmaids

The small business owner says he needs to protect himself against "influencers" whose partnerships end up costing the brands

<p>halfsies cookie company/instagram</p> David Maffei (left), Halfsies cookies

halfsies cookie company/instagram

David Maffei (left), Halfsies cookies

A New York cookie company has found itself at odds with influencers after taking a stand against proposed partnerships.

David Maffei, owner of Halfsies Cookie Company, shared an Instagram Reel that revealed an exchange between himself and a bride-to-be who claimed to be an influencer. She tried to set up a collaboration — which included free cookies from the brand to include in her bridesmaid bags.

Maffei showed the messages between the two, where Ana Montealgre's email described herself as an "influencer," who had "collaborated with a few brands." After reviewing her profile and seeing a small, personal-sized following, he responded, "Sorry, you're not an influencer."

The bride-to-be called herself a "beginner influencer," to which Maffei snarkily replied, "I'm a beginner astronaut."

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.

Related: Woman's Butter-Themed Birthday Party Goes Viral for 'Wildly Indulgent' Treats (Exclusive)

Maffei has made it a point to call out influencers and others trying to get free products from small businesses and raise awareness of the harm that can cause those companies. He says it has been a "surprise" to see the attention his position has received across Instagram and TikTok.

"We are just an extremely small family business with one employee who is also a very close family friend," the owner explains to PEOPLE.

"When we started getting dozens of these (mostly bachelorette) party requests from people that have never ordered with us and don't even follow us, I was annoyed. I decided to start sharing these interactions with our following so people could understand what we deal with behind the scenes, but also in hopes of shedding light on this trend for other small businesses who maybe would be fooled by it," he continues.

"In this economy, we are all trying to stay alive. We have to be very intentional with who we send promotional mailings to — whether it be a charitable cause or legitimate influencer."

PEOPLE has reached out to Montealgre for comment.

As commenters debated which party was in the right, Maffei reflected on the viral moment in a follow-up post on Instagram on Monday.

"Today has been wild. To be clear. I’m not anti-influencer. Influencer marketing is how we have grown," he began.

"I don’t like opportunistic people trying to capitalize on the flooded influencer market," he continues.

"If you’re embarrassed when I show our following what you said to us, maybe you shouldn’t say these things. 🤷🏻‍♂️"

For more People news, make sure to sign up for our newsletter!

Read the original article on People.