While Laurie Suriff was growing up in Dallas, she always remembers her hard-working single mother Marianne Gates telling her she could do anything she put her mind to. She encouraged her to “follow your dreams” and that’s exactly what Laurie is doing.
Laurie started a cookie business using her mom’s secret sugar cookie recipe. After years of making cookies out of her home, she met Collins Tuohy who had just tasted one of her beautifully decorated confections made for one of her little brother SJ’s events.
One Mother’s Legacy
Collins is the daughter of Leigh Anne Tuohy who is best known as the inspiration for Sandra Bullock’s Oscar winning performance in “The Blind Side”. Collins’ brother Michael Oher’s incredible story is featured in the movie. Michael went on to play offensive tackle for the Baltimore Ravens, who won the 2013 Super Bowl. All of us in Nashville are elated to have Michael now playing for the Tennessee Titans this fall!
Laurie explains after Collins tried her cookies that day, “She was like a heat-seeking missile on a mission to track me down! She loved my cookies and without even knowing me very well said, ‘We need to be partners!’”
“I have tasted many, many, many cookies and Laurie’s are the best EVER!” says Collins. “She had me at the first bite! I was so eager to get her product out there that on our second meeting I sat down with a big-girl business plan.”
“I think I scared her a little. But I was raised to go big or go home! Luckily Laurie is just as aggressive as I am! She looked at my plan, tweaked a few things and it worked out perfectly. We are risk takers! We believe in our cookies.”
Definition of Whimsy – “A Fanciful Creation”
So these smart young women decided to join forces and grow their business into one of Memphis’ most delicious cookie shops around – The Whimsy Cookie Company. “We are two passionate women who own a very fast moving business,” says Collins. “We actually complement each other very well.”
“We believe in glitz and glamour and pink and sparkly and magical and beautiful. We want to share all that with every person who walks in our door or visits our website. You never know what a day will bring, and the women of Whimsy all are prepared to tackle each day with energy and excitement! You might answer the phone at Whimsy and be talking to a Senator, or a truck driver or a teacher or a sister or the Poet laureate of the United States. Everyone who is on “Team Whimsy” wears a lot of hats.”
The success of Collins’ family has been enormous. Her father Sean owns over 93 fast food franchises. A former Ole Miss Rebel basketball legend, Sean is also an NBC broadcaster for the Memphis Grizzlies. Her mom is a talented interior designer and motivational speaker.
The Tuohy family’s Making it Happen Foundation offers hope and opportunities for kids that are considered valueless by society and often fall through the cracks.
Finding Her Own Path
In spite of the many accomplishments of her family, Collins wants to make her own way in life. “My brothers have forged their own success through sports, and I wanted to do the same in some form or fashion.”
“My parents raised the three of us to be givers and taught us that you never look down on anyone unless you are reaching down to pull them up. The movie has definitely opened doors, but it was up to Laurie and me to do something once the door was opened.”
Collins’ family has been so supportive, but her parents expect the girls to put in long hours and realize that if there’s a job to be done at Whimsy, “Then Laurie and I better be willing to do it.” When they needed some large orders placed to buy their new oven, Michael stepped up and bought each of his team members a dozen cookies for Christmas. And when they needed help with their social media marketing, SJ showed them the ropes. Collins’ brothers are constantly using social media to push Whimsy. “Michael still talks about our 100 rating we got from the health department!” says Collins.
Their clients range from little girls’ birthday parties to corporate accounts like FedEx, authors Emily Giffin and Maya Angelou and even celebrities Tim McGraw, Reese Witherspoon, Miranda Lambert, Emma Thompson, Emily Blunt and John Krasinski.
Nashville Wraps is honored to be part of their business. “We have so many uses for Nashville Wraps at Whimsy,” says Collins. “We use cello rolls, cello bags, raffia ribbon, basket boxes, clear lid boxes, satin ribbon, tissue paper and crinkle shred all as fast as we can order!”
The Home of the Blues, BBQ, Grizzlies and all things Elvis
The Memphis community has been so supportive of their business. “Memphis is my home… it’s my city… it’s my people,” adds Collins. “Without Memphis there would be no Whimsy, because our community is what keeps us going. Yes, we ship nationwide, and we LOVE all our clients around the country, but Memphis has a special place in my heart. Memphians believe nothing is impossible, and that’s what Whimsy believes as well.” Laurie has been making this exact Elvis cookie for over 8 years and continues to have lots of requests for it! Her cookies are truly works of art.
Recently, they just opened their retail store on Poplar Avenue in a 100 year old landmark that housed The Gift and Art Shop for 60 years. When they remodeled, they not only painted the entire outside pink, the inside is all things Whimsical as well: sweet and sassy with a touch of Southern glam.
The Whimsy Cookie Company works with major party planners, catering companies, chefs, restaurants, florists, retail stores along with everyday people. They also offer their product wholesale and can be found in several stores around the country, including Fosters Market in North Carolina and Provisions in Oxford, Mississippi.
Sadly, Laurie’s mom (pictured at right) passed away more than ten years ago. But her legacy lives on through her delectable cookie recipe, and no doubt she would be proud that her daughter is truly living her dream. Next time you are in the great city of Memphis, stop by Whimsy for some incredible cookies and meet these phenomenal young entrepreneurs. You can follow Whimsy Cookie on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and Instagram.