Friday, July 06, 2007

Elizabeth Kizito

Another installment in my ongoing series of articles on transgender and non-transgender women who have qualities that I admire.

I was introduced to her cookies a year before I actually met Elizabeth Kizito in 2001. She lived two doors down from our old house and one of the things I hated about our move to the new one is that every Christmas we used to get a cookie basket from her. We used to fight over who would get to devour the snickerdoodles.

Elizabeth Namusoke Kizito-Bartlett parlayed her father's cookie recipe and business acumen learned as a little girl in Uganda and turned it into a legendary Louisville institution.

She's known as 'The Cookie Lady' in Louisville and you'll see her delectable treats in stores all over Louisville. You can also get them at her shop on Bardstown Road which also has African arts and crafts for sale. She sells her treats at various Louisville events, several local Louisville outlets and at Louisville Bats games by using a skill she learned back in Uganda. She will walk through the crowd balancing a basket on her head filled to the rim with her cookies.

At 17 she was sent by her father, who owned a bakery business in her homeland to attend school. She moved to Louisville in 1978 and worked as a waitress at a local restaurant. She baked cookies for her co-workers and after the restaurant closed down, she decided to try to make a living baking her cookies.

Without the benefit of savings or a bank loan she started Kizito's Cookies in 1987 and worked hard to build it up. She had no store or collateral when she started and needed a co-signer just to get a six month lease on a bakery. Only after much hard work and five years of building the business did she finally gain the ability to get a bank loan to expand her business.

Her work resulted in her being named Women's Business Owner of the Year by Louisville's chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners. She has been approached by numerous investors about franchising her business. In addition to the 10 types of cookies and seven types of muffins she bakes, she has brownies and biscotti for sale as well.

See y'all later. I'm gonna head out the door and grab a few of her cookies to eat with my Blue Bell homemade vanilla ice cream.

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