From Childhood Treat to Family Business 7

Brigitte Hohman upholds grandmother’s legacy 
with Gracey’s Gourmet Cookies.

Like many of us growing up, Brigitte Hohman loved holidays and special occasions. But they were particularly exciting for her because it meant being treated to her grandmother’s shortbread cookies. Her grandmother, now deceased, lived in Canada where shortbread cookies are very popular. So popular in fact that Hohman’s grandmother created her own special recipe, calling them Gracey’s Cookies. Although there was no significance to the name, the recipe itself was, and remains, closely guarded.

While Hohman eventually learned that secret recipe, she never imagined the treat she loved as a child would become her fulltime occupation as an adult. After all, she hadn’t set out to have her own cookie business. After graduating from the University of Tennessee she and her husband settled in Nashville with Hohman working for Nestle for 10 years.

During that time she started baking Gracey’s Cookies for friends and neighbors. And once they had a taste they were hooked. “People told me I should start a business and sell them,” says Hohman. “We looked into it and decided to give it a shot.”

In business since 2009 under the name of Gracey’s Gourmet Cookies, Hohman bakes at her home in Brentwood. But this is no ordinary home kitchen. It’s actually a “Certified Kitchen” by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture and Hohman herself went through their training program and is subject to regular inspection.

Hohman began selling Gracey’s Gourmet Cookies at the Farmer’s Market in Franklin and now has a large customer list, spread by word-of-mouth. While most customers are in Tennessee, Hohman receives orders from all over the country. She has even shipped to China and to soldiers in Iraq. Hohman says, “We’ve learned that the cookies travel well. They can handle the shipping.”

It’s not hard to imagine that peak season is Christmas. During that time she’s in the kitchen 12 hours a day. “Baking at home is a big advantage. You never know when the phone is going to ring with someone interested in placing an order. There’s a lot you can do at 9 p.m.,” she says.

Gracey’s Gourmet Cookies are popular with businesses as well. Hohman fills many corporate orders and even ices cookies with corporate logos. She says, “We’ve added ginger cookies and a pumpkin dip, but I keep it simple. I only make two kinds of dough.”

When asked about all she’s accomplished Hohman explains, “It’s a full-time job so I really don’t have time to think about how the business has grown. I’m glad people like them. Customer referrals are the greatest compliment.” One thing is certain: Hohman continuing to delight with her cherished family recipe is the ultimate compliment to her grandmother’s legacy.