When Brenda Coffman (aka Blondie) took her cookie business to ABC’s Shark Tank, she had no idea what a response she would receive. Blondie’s Cookies appeared on Season 3, Episode 11 of the very popular reality TV show that features millionaire and billionaire investors looking to fund new businesses or products.
Not just anyone has the courage to face billionaires Kevin O’Leary (aka Mr. Wonderful) and Mark Cuban and not be shaken. But Brenda did it with her bubbly personality and a secret weapon: her delicious cookies. Mark was afraid they would send him straight to the gym for three hours. Robert Herjavec loved her branding. But unfortunately, the Sharks did not bite and offer Brenda a deal.
An Overnight Celebrity
However, the exposure on national television has been priceless. Even though the show aired 3 years ago, she continues to get recognized. Brenda said, “Within 24 hours after the show I got three marriage proposals, 1,700 emails and lots of phone calls and well-wishers.”
Blondies Cookies is based out of Greentown, IN, just an hour north of Indianapolis. They have seven stores in Indiana and two in Florida. “The Shark Tank took us from selling to only our Mid-West clients to all over the country and even overseas,” says Brenda. “By being chosen to appear on the show, our products were introduced to millions of viewers at one time.”
Brenda survived the Shark Tank and came away stronger. She learned that her cookies were as good as she thought. She also learned that hard work alone does not ensure success. Brenda took their advice and her business is stronger.
Being a local celebrity and a sports fan, Brenda gets to meet lots of great athletes like Indy race car driver Tony Kanaan (above) and his wife Lauren Bohlander, TV personality and host of Garage Squad (above left). She has fans among teams such as the Cavaliers, Bears, Colts and Packers, and even the Titans’ Coach, Ken Whisenhunt.
From Tragedy to Triumph
But Brenda’s life has not always been easy, and Blondie’s Cookies grew from a difficult time. While Brenda was high school, her father was killed by a drunk driver. For therapy, her mother encouraged her to start baking cookies, and she began sharing them with her teachers and friends.
After high school, she went to college to be a dentist. However, her love for baking cookies continued to grow. Before long, she was selling her cookies to her college professors, in the dorms, to a local restaurant and to her future husband’s fraternity.
Brenda’s cookie business had become an important source of income. She explains, “Every Friday and Saturday at the fraternity house when everyone was partying and having a carefree time, I was selling cookies to buy groceries on Sunday!”
“It’s All About the Cookie”
Now over 30 years later, Brenda still has one focus – giving her customers the freshest and tastiest product available. Her favorite line is, “It’s all about the cookie.” Her most popular flavor is Vanilla Sprinkle – vanilla shortbread with vanilla buttercream icing and brightly colored sprinkles. Other beloved treats include Snickerdoodles, White Chocolate Macadamia, Koko Kreams and Cheesecake Brownies. See all of Blondie’s flavors here.
The bulk of her business is still over 50% retail. Her online business increased from less than 1% to now over 15% of her total sales. Her fundraising division is the other big chunk of her business. Groups, organizations and individuals can sell her dough, along with cookies and brownies, and make some real dough for themselves with a 40% profit and no minimums.
“I found Nashville Wraps several years ago through a simple web search when looking for gift packaging companies. I really like that your packaging stays current, and I can buy as little or as much as I need. I love that your packaging is available in many sizes and coordinating accessories, which gives a very customized look for our clients.” Blondie’s uses our gift boxes, gable boxes, paper and plastic shopping bags, tissue and ribbon. See Blondie’s seasonal cookie packaging here.
Brenda’s Small Business Advice
- Work as hard as you can, accept some defeats and learn from them. When you’re hit and fall down, rest for only a moment and get back up and put that out of your thoughts.
- Focus on your core products and make sure the quality is always your number one concern.
- Find great vendors like Nashville Wraps.
- Use the talents God gave you in a positive way and have faith.
- Life is short, eat dessert first!
If you’d like to see your business on Shark Tank, apply here.
Shirley George Frazier says
What a superb and revealing look at how Brenda has triumphed. She is truly an entrepreneur, a go-getter, a shark. Congratulations, and continued success!
Kellie Butler says
That’s a wonderful story. Although she didn’t get her deal from the sharks, just the exposure she got was priceless. Continued success for you Brenda and best wishes to you.
I love to see and hear these type stories.