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Sweet Success: Nicole Bandklayder

Entrepreneur Nicole Bandklayder is a triple threat. She runs a successful marketing/PR firm, a virtual jewelry and handbag retailer, and most recently launched The Cookie Cups, a bakery that takes the humble cookie and elevates it to the next level. SheBOOM spoke with Nicole about her journey to date and her quest to reinvent America’s bakery landscape.

From talent management/PR to bakery? What’s the story?
As you may have guessed, I didn’t plan to open a bakery when I was running around Manhattan and Minneapolis as a publicist and talent manager. It was more that I had a concept I believed could change the course of the bakery scene in America. Plus, as someone who loves to cook, it was a way for me to spend more time in the kitchen getting creative with recipes and ideas for Cookie Cups flavors. There’s risk with everything, so in the beginning I just had fun with it to see if people would even like it. They did.

You’ve had other businesses too? Is there a theme connecting them all together?
I currently run three businesses. NB Talent Services is my marketing and PR firm; Bijouxx Jewels is a virtual jewelry and handbag boutique where we design and manufacture our own unique “Affordable Luxury;” and of course, The Cookie Cups is my bakery.

There is no theme connecting them but they all work together. NB Talent does the marketing for both of my other businesses and anytime there is a Bijouxx Jewels pop-up event, we typically serve Cookie Cups. We will also be selling Bijouxx Jewels at Cookie Cups locations.

The women’s entrepreneurial world is filled with bakers and bakeries. Why will yours succeed?
The Cookie Cups is not competing with any other bakeries. We have a unique concept that’s not being done anywhere else on a corporate level. So there’s that.

Of course, the real reason we will succeed is because of the people behind the brand. We are a determined team and we see the big picture. We know it could take a few years to brand The Cookie Cups the way Dunkin’ Donuts, Starbucks and many others have, but we are willing to persevere and do what it takes to make it happen. It’s the brands with the right people and passion behind them that do the best.

Who are your bakery (or food) role models and why?
This is a really interesting question because I would consider myself more of an inventor in the food world, so to speak. I’m not just baking cookies, it’s more complex. That said, [Toll House cookie inventor] Ruth Wakefield is someone I really admire. She was a risk taker in her time, similar to myself in a way. I’m old-school.

We understand that your crowdfunding your business. Tell us about that.
The next phase of The Cookie Cups business is to open up bakery location(s) and we are starting in Minneapolis, MN. Our crowdfunding campaign, hosted by PieShell.com, a-food-and-beverage-geared crowdfunding platform, will raise $15,000 this holiday season to help defray the costs of opening our first physical location.

These funds will go directly toward building a kitchen and purchasing appliances, building out the space with fixtures and designing the in-store signage. If you want to try our Cookie Cups and help us open the doors to our location, you can! (Click here!)

What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned as a serial entrepreneur?
Stay true to yourself. Other people are always going to have their opinion of your business and what you should or shouldn’t be doing. Stick to your goal and don’t let everyone get in your head.

Time Management. You can accomplish anything you want, just manage your time wisely and take time for yourself so you don’t burn out.

Have fun! It’s okay to have a little fun and take a few risks. You’ll never know what works unless you try!

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