By: Justin Sullivan
Career Services at The College at Brockport treated students, staff and community members to an evening with a well-known alumna. Baker, author and entrepreneur, Heather Saffer ‘10 spoke on how to start up a business as part of the Brockport’s Celebrating Entrepreneurship Series.
While Saffer, 33 is most recognized for her “better-for-you sweet snacks” company, Dollop Gourmet; Saffer’s appearance on Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars” and ABC’s “Shark Tank” made her a household name and well-known rising CEO.
I realized that my true passion wasn’t for the cupcake itself, but for the decadent topping that cupcakes were designed to deliver. So I sold my stores to focus on my true love, my favorite food—frosting,” Saffer said.
Prior to her appearance on the small screen, Saffer graduated from The College at Brockport with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. In 2009, Saffer was working at a car dealership when she decided to open her own bakery in Upstate, New York.
“I aligned myself with the wrong people,” Saffer said.
Saffer’s first business was quickly dissolved, resulting in a loss of $20,000- Saffer’s life savings at the time. The story was depicted in her May 2016 episode of “Shark Tank” where she received a bid from businesswoman, Barbara Corcoran.
Since 2009, “Shark Tank” tells the story of budding entrepreneurs get the chance to bring their dreams to fruition in this reality. In the show, entrepreneurs compete for bids or “bites” from entrepreneurs, more commonly known as the “sharks.”
As Saffer explained, what makes her company, Dollop Gourmet different is its vegan, gluten-free and non-GMO qualities.
“Discover what you want to do and actually do it,” Saffer said. “Every time you have an idea, someone, somewhere else has the same idea.”
The Dollop Gourmet line of frosting is currently sold in hundreds of major retailers nationwide, such as Wegmans, HEB, Whole Foods, Fresh Thyme and Hy-Vee. According to the company’s website, the line has been featured on the Oprah Winfrey Network and in People Magazine.
“Publicity is huge, you can’t undermine publicity,” Saffer said. “If you ever get the opportunity to do a show or at least audition for a show- do it.”
In addition to her business, Saffer authored her first cookbook, an Amazon Bestseller, The Dollop Book of Frosting through Adams/F+W Media in 2013. Heather’s second cookbook, Very Easy Vegan Desserts is set to be released by Sterling Publishing in spring 2018.
Saffer’s book deal is what she considers her biggest accomplishment as a businesswoman.
“I have thrown all of me in my business,” Saffer said. “I have forgone relationships and businesses to make my business grow.”
During her time back her alma mater, Saffer stressed the importance of working with your manufacturer and receiving customer feedback. When asked what her greatest tip for aspiring entrepreneurs was- Saffer admitted the importance of research and perseverance.
“There is always going to be production issues, there is always going to be something that goes wrong,” Saffer admitted. “It is the nature of the business.”