I am a fan of Mrs. Fields cookies. What is she up to these days?
—Alana Schioppi, Silver Spring, Md.
Debbi Fields, 56, actually sold her multi-million-dollar cookie business to an investment company in the ‘90s, but stayed on with a management contract until 2000. That said, Mrs. Fields has recently been acquired by a new company, so its founder is in talks about returning to help them rebuild the company back to its glory days. Stay tuned.
Even so, the Oakland, Calif.-born entrepreneur hasn’t been resting on her laurels. A self-proclaimed, Type-A personality, she says, “I have five daughters. If that is not enough to keep me busy, I am also married and my husband brought five, so it is truly ‘The Brady Bunch.’ In between all that time, I have done a new cookbook, some TV shows for the Food Network, when it first started, and I have been doing public speaking and sitting on boards.”
The cookie mogul’s most recent project is as a mentor on Lifetime’s “Supermarket Superstar,” on which one lucky contestant will be awarded $10,000 in prize money and $100,000 worth of product development to create professional samples of the home-cooked products they would like to take to market.
“What I loved about it is the first words they said were ‘mentoring,’ ‘nurturing,’ ‘enriching’ and ‘developing,’” she recalls. “Being an entrepreneur, I think we need a lot more of that than what I heard when I was starting out at 20: ‘No, you can’t,’ ‘You will fail’ and ‘No one will buy it.’ Who needs a list of why we can’t do things? What also transpired was something I didn’t expect. This show is like a tool kit. It takes the contestants from: ‘OK, I make a great product’ to: ‘What do I do?’”
But most importantly, Mrs. Fields is still baking cookies. She says, “Wherever I go, I have magic cookies hidden in my briefcase. So I bake a lot. The tradition of baking cookies has never dissipated. More importantly, it is just so much fun to surprise people with cookies.”