February 2016 cover
February 2016 cover
The Archives

A Sweet Empire: Eleni’s New York

A sought after sweet spot by celebs, the Eleni's New York founder tells us how she got started and what she's conquering next.

A Sweet Empire: Eleni’s New York - Lioness MagazineThis raved about bakery has been around for decades and the world of sugary sweet delights hasn’t been the same since. Some of you may have already heard about the inventive New York City bakeshop, Eleni’s New York, that is drawing in so many Americans with its cookies.

Coming out from behind the counter of this amazingly fun shop is Eleni Gianopulus. She jumped ship from the world of editorial magazine and ended up raising a booming bakery right out of her own apartment in New York.

While working with Time magazine Eleni realized she didn’t want to continue down that career path any longer and some of her friends within the same industry. “When you work in the editorial [market], there are long hours and you have [little] control over it. You know, if your editor stays until midnight you stay until midnight,” Eleni explained. She wanted to have more control over her life and run her own business instead of working for someone else’s. She had a passion for baking and want to pursue it.

So she took to the stores. After whipping up a batch of baklava and some oatmeal cookies, both from her mother’s traditional recipe book, she brought them to local stores testing the waters. Eleni realized the baklava didn’t do as well as the oatmeal cookies. Knowing she could make this into her own business she started the cookie making process, using new recipes and building until Eleni’s New York is what it is today: a cookie empire.

Getting her bakery up and running had been a lot of hard work, not to mention hard cash. Eleni took a 20-year lease in the Chelsea area for $60,000, which of course was a big leap for someone just starting out. “To put it in perspective, now we just bought two machines, one cost $55,000 and the other $120,000,” Eleni explained. “I never believed that it would be this big,” she said.

Eleni’s New York is very inventive bakery. Eleni realizes that there was a high demand for what her store deems ‘conversation cookies.’ These sugar cookies are all kinds of fun shapes and fit with almost any holiday or special event you can think of. The website allows you to customize your cookies to fit your wants and needs. It’s a design studio for your cookie!

Though the nut free recipes are a very important piece of the bakery’s draw, it’s not just the peanut free sign that draws mothers and kids to the cookies. Eleni’s New York has its own “cookie marker” that allows you draw on these conversation cookies after a layer of special white icing is laid on that allows the cookies to hold the color from the marker.

If you want a cookie shaped like a dinosaur, but also want it to be a rainbow dinosaur then you can do that. This also eliminates the messiness of traditional icing, but still allows children to get creative and be a part of the cookie process. There doesn’t seem to be a limit to your imagination with your own cookie markers.

To stay on top of the baking industry Eleni needs to keep up to date with new pop culture trends and that means always coming up with new cookie shapes and even different ways involved in the cookie process. “For example, we launched our superhero line of cookies with an exclusive cookie decorating techniques that paints that paints edible ink directly onto the royal icing, which showcases the image in rich detail and brilliant color,” Eleni explained.

For any entrepreneur there are going to be a lot of challenges and a lot of hard work to get the business started. This also means that having a strong support system to help and encourage you is important. There’s going to have to also be a balance between work and relationships and family life.

Being able to adjust time for family needs and work needs has to be a big part of it. “It’s very difficult,” Eleni admitted. “Be realistic, be honest and figure out what works for your family,” she continued. Prioritizing between work and family is a big key. Knowing when to take some time away with your significant other and when to put in that extra hour can make a big difference to both the relationship and the business.

Eleni’s New York is also a frequent stop for celebs and has been featured in multiple magazines like In Style, Vanity Fair and People. It has also been raved about on the Today Show, Access Hollywood, The View and Exxtra.

Now Eleni’s New York is in the process of expanding its reach. It is already in multiple retailers like Whole Foods, Bed, Bath & Beyond and Crate & Barrel. “By February our grocery line will be looking to have cookies in 300 Target stores nationwide,” Eleni said, proudly. Eleni is also looking to expand the company to another store, looking to open in the spring of 2016.

Click here for a look superhero cookie line go here.

shannonShannon Phillips is an intern at Lioness. She is a senior at Western New England University and is a Creative Writing major. The 20-year-old is also the Assistant Editor of her campus literary magazine and aspires to be a professional writer and author. She enjoys, horror movies, fiction writing and soap-making.


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