HPW’s Inspiring Women series profiles remarkable Greek-American professional women whose stories of success inspire and encourage us to achieve our own career goals and aspirations.
Eleni’s New York
Raised in Piedmont, a small Northern California town, Eleni moved to New York City after earning a BA from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas and has called the city home for nearly twenty-five years.
She began her career in the media world working at the venerable Time Inc., eventually moving into the editorial division of Life Magazine. Through a twist of fate, Eleni, who had a passion for baking, began a small catering business in her apartment. What began as a side business featuring Eleni’s mother’s famous oatmeal-raisin cookies quickly outgrew her home and evolved into a full-fledged cookie empire.
Since 1997, Eleni’s New York has been a must-stop at Manhattan’s iconic Chelsea Market, later followed by an expansive website, where irresistibly designed custom “Conversation Cookies TM” and other treats await fans located around the world. Today, Eleni’s custom cookie creations are a favorite of celebrities, luxury brands, Fortune 500 companies and cookie lovers alike.
In addition to the Chelsea Market store and website, Eleni’s signature cookies can be found in several retailers located across the U.S. and Canada, including Whole Foods, Bed Bath & Beyond, Crate & Barrel and others.
Today, Eleni lives in Manhattan’s Upper East Side with her husband of twenty years, Randall, children William & Sophia and the family’s two King Charles Cavalier Spaniels, Chester & Lovey.
What first got you interested in baking cookies as the focus of your career?
I started out exploring catering as a career option, and quickly realized I only enjoyed making dessert. I then focused on dessert, and narrowed it down to just cookies. I liked how focused it felt, yet it still provided me endless opportunities.
What impact has your Greek heritage had on your career/professional life?
My mother taught cooking classes at our church festivals. I grew up in Oakland, California, which had a very large Greek community, so the festivals had a huge following and so did my mom. With this exposure she was able to gain entry to local TV stations, and cook regularly on local morning shows. My mom’s small cooking endeavor most certainly influenced my career in cookies.
What has been your most rewarding career moment thus far?
The stability and stamina to own and operate a bakery in New York City, with all that it involves for 20 years.
Did you have any mentors who helped guide you on your career path?
Yes. Connie O’Neil, my college advisor.
If you could give one piece of advice to women regarding their professional lives, what would it be?
Find something that you love and pursue it with all your might!
For more info, please go to http://www.elenis.com/