Thinking outside the tin
THE PATH THAT led to Heidi’s Heavenly
was not always an easy one.
In 2002, with her husband, Andre, a
creative director in advertising, out of
work, and with just a very basic idea in
mind, Costco member Heidi Nel turned
to her family to discuss starting her
cookie business. A stay-at-home mom in
Alpharetta, Georgia, with a background
in marketing, she had always been told
by her friends how much her cookies
were loved by everyone, but she needed
to talk with those closest to her for some
guidance. “Without the support of my
family, and some very generous and caring friends, I would not have been able to
do any of this,” says Heidi.
After converting her basement to a
licensed bakery, Heidi let her cookies
speak for themselves. “I started out giving
them as gifts, and the word-of-mouth just
took off and the orders suddenly started
coming in,” Heidi recalls.
Two years later, the bakery was able to
expand into the entire basement and has
since expanded into a 5,300-square-foot
state-of-the-art commercial bakery. The
selection grew, too, from four kinds to
eight different types of gourmet cookies as
well as homemade toffee candy. The business has gone from first-year sales of
$12,000, to sales of close to $1 million in
2010. Heidi and her husband have been
recognized for their hard work by some of
the leaders in the industry, such as
Rachael Ray, Southern Living Magazine
and The Today Show.
Heidi has transformed a small, humble basement operation into a nationwide
force to be reckoned with in the cookie
Judy Sapol altered her career path
Changing her style
Heidi Nel stepped
in as, um, breadwinner, creating
ERIN BUNDERSON PHOTOGRAPHY
SOPHISTICATED LADIES (
ladiesconsignment.com), Costco member Judy
Sapol’s consignment boutique in Chadds Ford,
Pennsylvania, is, as Sapol puts it, “upscale fash-
ions for any occasion at a mere fraction of the
retail cost.” The store, which Sapol opened in
October 2009, after she left nursing, is filled
with women’s clothing and shoes, some lightly
worn, some with tags still on. Designers repre-
sented include Prada, Dana Buchman, St. John,
Ellen Tracy, Ralph Lauren, Talbots, and Coach.
Paying it forward
SHORTLY FOLLOWING SEPTEMBER 11,
2001, Will Beiersdorf, a Costco member in
Arlington Heights, Illinois, and a member of
the U.S. Naval Reserve, was called to action.
Will left his wife, MaryBeth, and three
young sons at home for 16 months while he
served at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
While many companies make up the difference between employees’ regular pay and
their military pay, Will’s did not. “Our income
dropped 65 percent,” recalls MaryBeth. They
had to remortgage their home and sell their
car. Then help arrived—not from the government or organized charities, but from their
“Our community pretty much stepped
up and helped us survive,” MaryBeth says.
“From babysitting services to lawn care,
money in our mailbox, gift cards, tuition and
coats. It was unbelievable.”
When Will returned, someone suggested
that the family pass that good
fortune forward to others who
were experiencing similar
hardships. With that, their
organization, Salute, Inc.
www.saluteinc.org), was born.
Will and MaryBeth Beiersdorf now run a
non-profit for military service members.
blind—‘and I would like to pay it back to
you.’ ... So he then sold 200 T-shirts at a
block party this summer and raised $2,000
and gave it back to [Salute, Inc.].”