11. 01. 2016Author: Alexandra John
They say that the way to a person’s heart is through something sweet and savory. Everyone likes sweets but a well-baked and moist cookie is what completes a meal and brings the evening to a perfect end. In a world full of successful entrepreneurs, it is hard for normal housewives and moms to start their own small business.
Even then, in a world full of business competitors, a woman started her very own business by taking inspiration from her mother and has now reached a high place in Manhattan’s Chelsea Market.
In short: Eleni Giannopoulos loves baking cookies. She worked as an editor in Life Magazine and in her part time; she ran a small catering business in her apartment. She initially started making oatmeal-raisin cookies, which she had perfected by copying her mother’s recipe. What started as a small baking passion in an apartment, turned in to a high-end cookie empire.
Her small whimsical treats in the shape of baby carriages and designer shoes slowly transformed in to a million dollar business. Eleni always believes that when a person over thinks something, they never get the courage to go through because they focus more on the negative aspects rather than the positive.
In 1991, Eleni got married to Randall Giannopoulos, who worked as a trader in Wall Street. After five years, she started her small baking business in her own kitchen. Soon she started getting many clients and turned her small business in to a big company. Her journey of 17 years now is seen taking new heights through her exclusive dessert business called “Eleni’s New York Cookies”.
Recently she adjusted her work hours and responsibilities in anticipation of her children, Sophia and William. Even though she has the responsibilities of a wife and a mom, she oversees 65 employees, a manager at her Long Island City headquarters in Chelsea Market as well as a new shop in Upper East Side. Now, famous actors like Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones serve Eleni’s cookies in their parties. No surprise there, that her company keeps reaching new heights!
No wonder she is a fabulous baker after all, she learned all the tips and tricks from her mother. Eleni’s mother taught different types of Greek cooking in Oakland, CA in a TV program. So began her very own first try at Baklava, a flaky pastry layered with sugar, which she learned from her mother’s traditional recipe. Her first approach in New York was to bring some oatmeal cookies and Baklava to a gourmet shop. It turned out that people did not eat Baklava daily and so all the oatmeal cookies were sold instead.
After the oatmeal cookies became a hit, she developed several more recipes of her own. Her art classes, color theory and drawing skills, and computer graphics assisted her to create unique sugar cookies with fanciful shapes.
Eleni believes that while working there is no shame to ask for a little help from your parents, after all the starting step towards her business was because of her mother. Most of Eleni’s cookies molds that are unique and quite hard to achieve are designed by her father. Her cookie designs are well above 1000 that have a distinct icing palette. The most famous colors that she incorporates in her cookies are rich reds, shades of turquoise and baby pink.
Eleni works with her employees and treats them like family. She believes that the path to a successful business is to look over every one yourself. A boss has many responsibilities but this does not mean she just sits in meeting and gives orders. She must take a personal interest in all her employees, listen to their problems, and act on them.
Now that she is a mother, she spends equal time on her business as well as her kids. Eleni strongly advices to women entrepreneurs that, “In order to start a business, one should not put their family on hold”. Becoming a mother is one of the most wonderful experiences that a woman gets in life. If you have the means to start a business early than focus on your family first and once you are satisfied you can start your business. You may never know that in the future you might regret the choice when you decided to focus on your business rather than your family.
Due to her career, Eleni believes she has become more close to her kids. She uses her funny and beautiful cookie molds to serve breakfast to her kids. Her son William is a picky eater, so Eleni uses her baking techniques on healthy foods to coax William to eat vegetables. In the end the techniques helps her to feed her son without any fuss. For her, going the extra mile in every meal is a win-win situation.
Once your business is a success you can hire a caregiver and distribute your kids’ responsibilities. This way you can focus single-mindedly on your business and give more time to your kids. In short: Her day begins with her family and ends with her family.
When it comes to being an entrepreneur, Eleni has some tips for single women and moms all over the world:
When you start your business, make sure you have done your homework. Research is the most important key. Conduct a research on your product, its marketplace, its price and if the product will become successful or not.
Don’t Be Afraid
When you launch a business, accept that there will be certain risks on the way. Somewhere along the way, you might even have to make some sacrifices.
Make Choices That Are Mom-Friendly
If you are planning to start a business, go for something you have a passion for and is easy for you. Choose something that is less time consuming and will give you equal time with your family. In search for success, do not fall back in the responsibilities towards your family.
Don’t Be Shy
As you have read that Eleni often asked for support from her father as well as her mother, do not hold yourself back with an I-can-do-all-by-myself attitude. Moral support as well as physical support from a partner, helps you to go through all the highs and lows more easily.
In the end, all she says is that, “Don’t be scared to try”. The first step is all it takes and the rest automatically follows.
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