Jill Brack – Glow Gluten Free Cookies

Sometimes a mom’s path can cross with a child’s need and lead to a venture.  That’s what happened with Jill Brack when she and her daughter Stella were diagnosed with celiac disease.  Consuming wheat was no longer an option.  As a mother she wanted her child to enjoy birthday parties and all that they offered.  Experimenting with pizza, cakes and cookies, Jill learned to make foods that were gluten free so Stella could enjoy these foods along with the other kids. But how did Jill go from making her daughter treats to a full-fledged cottage industry?

Jill met her husband in California in the film industry.  Wanting to be near family the couple moved to Boston and started a real estate development company renovating historic homes; the two were true entrepreneurs.  In 2007 Stella was diagnosed and Jill began to create gluten free foods.  She spent a lot of time experimenting and perfecting her recipes.  Using bean flour which added protein and fiber, Jill wanted her cookies to have some nutritional value. She came up with her secret recipe and the right formula for four cookie flavors:  old fashioned chocolate chip, rich double chocolate, spicy gingersnap, and always a favorite cinnamon sugary snicker doodles.  Often serving them to friends and family, people loved the taste having no idea the cookies were gluten free.  One day her husband Regi jokingly suggested that she sell her cookies rather than give them away – at that moment, a little baking hobby turning into a full time business.  These allergy friendly treats are all-natural, wholesome, gluten free and dairy free.  Offering them at first in cellophane packages with ribbons and baking at home, Jill started selling her cookies at Farmer’s Markets, Vendor Fairs and to Health Food Stores, feeling that she may have something other gluten free folks would like.  Orders poured in and Jill’s husband took over the sales and distribution.  The name came from a desire to make a positive out of a negative, wanting consumers to feel that you can “glow” while having these cookies; the brand Glow Gluten Free was born.

As the business grew, the pair soon found a commercial certified gluten free kitchen and Jill worked to scale her recipes for large batches.  Regi hit the road and never got a “no.”  When the stores ordered cases, the two didn’t even know how many units were supposed to be in a case but they were not afraid to learn as they went along.  The jewel in their crown came when Whole Foods placed their first order in the Spring of 2009.

Working with her husband is easy she says, “We have clearly defined roles.  Regi is in charge of sales and distribution and I oversee marketing and production.  I can’t imagine it any other way, we are a great team.”   A true family business, Stella goes with her parents on calls and cookie samplings.  The couple would have been happy with a small operation selling to 50 regional stores but in the Spring of 2010, the largest natural foods distributor came knocking on their door.  Glow Gluten Free cookies are now in 500 stores in the Eastern half of the US.  Jill says, “I can’t believe it happened that way but we just kept going and learned to roll with the changes and the growth. The next step will be West Coast distribution and a new product launch. “You never know when another opportunity will come along, and that’s what I love about having your own business, every day is an adventure.”

Contact:  [email protected]

VentureMom Tip

Recognize when you have created something that meets a need and learn as you go.

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