How Bread Made Her a Millionaire

As a single mom, Cordia Harrington just needed to bring home the bacon. She ended up rolling in dough.

By Margaret Heffernan from Reader's Digest | June 2009

Why did you become an entrepreneur?
I had good roots of love and encouragement. When I got crazy ideas, my dad would say, “You can do that!” Even when I was 11, I had a nursery school in my backyard, and I’d charge 25 cents for three hours. At the end of the summer, I’d saved $60. Entrepreneurs always believe there’s a better way to do things.

Did you ever doubt yourself?
I wasn’t intimidated by what I didn’t know. In some ways, it was better that I wasn’t an expert, because I would ask questions that helped the team to say, Why not? I never know where a stupid question will lead.

Do you have very high standards?
Extremely. I don’t want us to just pass an inspection. I want us to get the highest marks. The industry rejects standard is about 4 percent, but ours is 2 percent. We give everyone a $50 bill to reward that high standard.

Are you an impatient person?
Either that or antsy. My nickname is Aunt C (antsy)! When I was a little girl and they’d say dinner’s ready, I’d run around the house ten times first! I’ve been high energy all my life.

What is most important to being successful?
Integrity. Doing what you say.

What was your darkest moment?
When McDonald’s gave me a chance to be an owner-operator and put me in a restaurant in Little Rock, Arkansas, to learn the business. I would get up at 3 a.m., drive 78 miles, work eight hours, drive home, work at my real estate business, pick up the kids, put them to bed, and study. I was always exhausted, and some days it all felt hopeless. And yet somehow I kept going. Survival is a good motivator!

You don’t give up easily, do you?
Instead of complaining when problems come up, I take that negative energy and put it toward getting to the next level.

Do you bake?
I love to cook, but I’m not a very good baker! I take our frozen dough home and bake that. But if I had to do it from scratch, my guests would be in trouble.

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