Goodie Girl Cookies Founder on Her Journey From Model, to Music Business, to Cookies
Offering seven delicious yet gluten-free flavors, Goodie Girl Cookies makes sweets that are both delicious and made with healthy ingredients. Goodie Girl was launched by Shira Berk, a former music marketing executive -- favorite bands of hers include Helmet, Fugazi and Rise Against -- on a dare of sorts. While running the cafe inside her kid’s preschool, a fellow parent had challenged Berk to create a gluten-free cookie modeled after the cookies baked at said cafe. Within a few years, Goodie Girl had a full-page write-up within the New York Post and after a chance meeting with Greg Toufayan of Toufayan Bakeries, the company became a full-time venture for Berk.
On behalf of The Daily Meal, I had the pleasure of speaking with Berk, whose cookies this writer finds to be irresistible. More on Berk and her acclaimed company – now sold in Starbucks, Publix, Walmart and Whole Foods – can be found online at www.goodiegirlcookies.com.
Goodie Girl Cookies have healthy ingredients. When did you first become conscious about ingredients in your snacks?
Shira Berk: Well, I lost 80 pounds and then started a cookie company. It’s a bit of unusual path to baker. As a recent graduate, I was sort of discovered on the streets of New York -- as the fairy tales go -- and got signed as a plus-size model. That didn’t last long as I had a passion for music and creativity and was thrilled to enter the music industry where I served as an executive for years before starting Goodie Girl Cookies.
Toward the beginning of my career, I slowly lost 80 pounds by making healthier choices every day. This became a way of life and is the reason I have kept off the weight and maintained my health. But to do this, healthy ingredients became a serious priority for all meals and snacks. So when I started a cookie company, I knew I would only use ingredients I felt great about sharing.
Where did the Goodie Girl name come from? Is it a reference to something in particular?
I am sort of known for having candy and sweets in my pocketbook at all times. When I owned a café in New York City, I was selling healthy foods, vegetarian dishes and, of course, dessert. People started calling me “the Goodie Girl” because they knew they could count on me for something good to eat.
Do you have a favorite of the Goodie Girl varieties available?
At the moment, my favorite is the Midnight Brownie.
What is coming up for the Goodie Girl brand in the coming months?
We are thrilled to have great distribution including retailers like Publix, Walmart, and Whole Foods and availability at Starbucks nationwide. We have some really exciting varieties just launched Fudge Striped and Chocolate Crème and are especially proud of a new partnership with an incredible organization.
As a kid, I was always bursting with creativity, whether in the kitchen, onstage, singing or painting. Grateful for the opportunities I had to explore my own artistry, I am passionate about connecting children with opportunities for imaginative exploration and expression. At Goodie Girl Cookies, we truly believe it can change lives. A portion of all proceeds from Chocolate Crème will be going toward Art Start, an award-winning, nationally-recognized model for using the creative arts to transform young, at-risk lives.
When not busy with Goodie Girl Cookies, how do you like to spend your free time?
I have a husband, three kids and a dog, so that partially answers the question. I spend my time sharing my time with those I love. I am inspired by everything around me – from the architecture of New York City to the museums and theater. A perfect day is wandering through exhibits with my family, a picnic in the park and some great, great music and food with friends.
Do you have a favorite restaurant in New York?Well, I am always searching and trying new places so generally I don’t have a single favorite, but more likely a recent favorite. I recently went to Esme in Brooklyn and loved everything about it. I tend to order fish and vegetable dishes, and love creative dishes. I love bold flavors found in Thai food, Indian, Korean and ethnic food in general along with fresh flavors. Esme was very farm to table, extremely interesting flavors and pairings, great décor and design, which I really appreciate. Design is important to me, as you can probably tell from our unusual packaging.
Finally, any last words for the kids?
If you work really hard and don’t let mistakes get to you -- because you must make mistakes -- you can make your cookie and eat it too!