Bright Lights, Big City

Just Desserts

Lesley Degenhart, 31, finding the right recipe for success meant overcoming some setbacks along the way. When her marriage dissolved in 1996, Degenhart's husband bought out her share of the graphic design business the two had co-owned. Seeking to "regroup," she found an accounting job; that worked fine . . . for a few months. Soon, however, the former entrepreneur felt the urge to break out of the routine. "[The job] was very difficult because it was not my style--working 8 to 5, shutting it off when I got home, people telling me what was and was not my job."

When Degenhart's mother sent her father a cookie bouquet from Cookies by Design, a franchise company that sells custom cookies for special occasions, something sparked. Impressed by the product quality, Degenhart discovered there was a market for the product and decided to purchase a franchise.

Getting the start-up cash took persistence: Degenhart was turned down by the three banks she approached for a loan. But buoyed by encouragement from friends and family and a personal belief that "one bank's philosophy might not be another's," she kept trying, and the fourth bank she approached finally offered her the funding she required.

Degenhart's Indianapolis store, which opened last March, grossed approximately $260,000 in 1998 sales; a second Indianapolis location should be open by year-end.

Average start-up costs for a Cookies by Design franchise begin at $90,000; the company is accepting franchise applications nationwide. For information, contact (800) 945-2665 or visit

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This article was originally published in the February 1999 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Bright Lights, Big City.

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