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Eleni Gianopulos, 38: Eleni's NYC

Her gourmet cookies are shaped like baby carriages and Oscar de la Renta gowns, and have been served up at the events of celebrities such as Catherine Zeta-Jones, Michael Douglas and Robert DeNiro. Her products are also in the Neiman-Marcus catalog. You might say Eleni Gianopulos has made quite an impression with her New York City cookie company, Eleni's NYC.

When she started the business in 1996 out of her apartment, Gianopulos' first product was an oatmeal cookie she made using her mom's recipe. Originally intending to start a catering company, she soon focused on desserts. And her cookies became so popular with clients, she started selling them to local gourmet grocery stores.

Gianopulos developed more cookie recipes--snickerdoodles, chocolate chip, peanut butter--and then branched out into nifty cut-out cookies, which helped her catch the eye of Martha Stewart Living. The magazine did a story on Gianopulos and her husband that mentioned her rabbit cut-out cookies--and word-of-mouth grew as people started coming to Eleni's for specialty cookie creations. Gianopulos helped the buzz factor early on by donating her products to high-profile events.

It wasn't too long before Gianopulos was hired to create an all-cookie replica of Elton John's house for one client. And for designer and good friend Kate Spade, Gianopulos created Kate Spade handbag-shaped cookies.

It's that kind of ingenuity that's made Eleni's cookies a New York City staple--Gianopulos even has cookies shaped like taxi cabs and the Empire State Building. Says Gianopulos, "I really wanted it to be an edgy cookie company." With sales well over a million dollars, it seems Gianopulos certainly has the edge.

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This article was originally published in the November 2002 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Got ID?.

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