Year Started: 1992
Based in: Chandler, Arizona
2001 Projections: $3.75 million
As fairy tales go, Eileen Spitalny and David Kravetz's story has all the ingredients of a classic. Armed with just one secret family recipe and a high school promise, Spitalny and Kravetz founded Chandler, Arizona-based Fairytale Brownies Inc. in 1992.
The two childhood friends grew up savoring the brownies Kravetz's mother made from scratch. Years later, both dissatisfied with their jobs, Kravetz and Spitalny remembered a promise they'd made in high school to start a business together someday and decided those beloved brownies were the ticket.
With no baking, manufacturing or direct-marketing experience, Kravetz and Spitalny moonlighted from a friend's catering kitchen for the first year, selling mostly through catalogs. In 1993, they moved into their own bakery and soon after went online with their Web site, where they receive 25 percent of their orders today.
The summer of '94 taught the two an important lesson about getting the word out about their company. "We got a great write-up in The New York Times that changed that summer season forever," says Spitalny. "And it made us become very proactive in sending brownies with our press releases because of the phenomenal results we saw from [the story]."
Once people receive the company's gift-boxed gourmet brownies (now in 12 flavors), they often come back for their next gift-giving occasion-helping Fairytale Brownies sales reach $3.75 million this year.
So what's Spitalny and Kravetz's recipe for success? "Well, most everybody loves chocolate, so that helps," Kravetz jokes. "But we know that we don't know everything, so we're not afraid to ask for help or advice. You've got to be humble." -P. Kelly Smith
Entrepreneur: Would you like Fairytale Brownies to be a household name?
David Kravetz: Absolutely. We're very conscious of our brand identity and our little elf. When you see the McDonald's arches, all you have to see is that "M" and you know what it is. Same thing with our elf. We'd like one day for people to look at that elf without any text and go, "Ah, Fairytale Brownies. Those are the best brownies in the world."
Entrepreneur: Do you feel the company has been successful because of the uniqueness of the product and the mission behind it?
Kravetz: The customer service is really important. A lot of our customers are surprised at our service. We have an unconditional guarantee that if a customer or recipient is unsatisfied for any reason, we reship fresh brownies; we refund the person's purchase price if that's what's necessary. We have what we call internally our $100 empowerment policy, which gives any employee the authority to spend up to $100 of the company's money to solve a person's problem.
Entrepreneur: Do you think younger millionaires possess more energy, ambition or drive than older ones do? Do you think that's related to success?
Stenzler: Eileen and I are both very happy coming to work, and we have a lot of energy. We've learned over time that when you start a business, you tend to think more about yourself and what's in it for you. But as you grow, all of a sudden you start to think more about the employees and what's in it for them because you realize you just can't do it yourself. It's all about the employees.
Eileen Spitalny: [My] advice to young entrepreneurs is if you feel like it's inside of you, do it. There's no reason to wait. There are always going to be obstacles. Waiting for the perfect time is like waiting for the perfect time to have a baby. There is no perfect time.
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This article was originally published in the November 2001 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Forever Young.
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