HomeCommunity NewsGrieving Mother Mixes Joy Into Her Recipe for Success

Grieving Mother Mixes Joy Into Her Recipe for Success

Former longtime resident Stephanie Wiley left her career in photography and started a brand-new business based on interest in her crowd-pleasing cookie brittle recipe.
Wiley moved out of La Cañada Flintridge in 2020 shortly after her son, Tommy Saliamonas, died of fentanyl poisoning.
After his death, photography was a little too personal and emotional for her to continue. After some years passed, now in her new home in Montana, she also lost her mother and father.
“My family has been through a lot in the last few years,” Wiley told the Outlook Valley Sun. “I’m so thankful to have been able to do this. I’ve always been appreciative of family, but when Tommy died and my brothers, sisters-in-laws, friends and extended family dropped everything to come and support Peter, me and my parents, it really confirmed how fortunate I am to have them.”
Since she started her cookie brittle company, Fat Kid Cookie Co., in 2021, she decided that it would be a good idea to give a portion of all sales to fentanyl awareness organizations. She started doing that in 2022.
“I started this business to spread joy through cookies, to keep myself busy and to give back to fentanyl awareness organizations,” Wiley said. “So last year we were only able to raise a minimal amount and we donated that to Song For Charlie.”
She recently found out about End Overdose, a nonprofit based in Los Angeles “working to fight against drug-related overdose deaths through education, medical intervention and public awareness.”
“I reached out to them and later found out that my niece was already volunteering for them and really believed in their work,” Wiley said. “When we lost Tommy, this fentanyl epidemic was very new. I was also very unaware of what overdoses look like but sadly I learned. I think that training on the use of Naloxone and handing it out will save many lives.”
In the future, she hopes to donate to even more nonprofits.
With some help from her siblings who work in marketing, her cookies are in 47 retail locations nationwide and her goal is to get even bigger, but more importantly, her goal is to bring joy to people with her cookies.
“My goal is to grow big enough to make a difference so that others don’t have to go through what my family and I have been through,” Wiley said.
The 54-year-old has challenged herself with this business, which originally started online. She had to learn everything herself to build the business from scratch. She is now working on two new recipes to grow her business even more.
“When I finally did jump into selling the cookies, it was exciting and scary, but I really felt like I didn’t have much to lose,” Wiley said. “Worst case scenario was having it not work out and needing to go find a job doing something else. At this point, I love the challenge of what I’m doing and since it’s all new to me, I’m learning a lot and am appreciating that process.”
Now, she and Suzanne Jensen, the store owner of Everson Clare in LCF, are preparing for their pop-up shop event on Nov. 9 from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.
“Suzanne and I are giving back a portion of all proceeds raised at the pop-up to End Overdose,” Wiley said.
End Overdose is the same nonprofit that has been teaching residents at the LCF Community Center how to use Narcan and even giving out the opioid antidote to some participants.
“I know that there are many organizations out there to choose from, but after going through what I went through with Tommy, I wish I had had access to these tools,” she said.
To learn more about Fat Kid Cookie Co., visit fatkidcookiecompany.com. To learn more about End Overdose, visit endoverdose.net.

First published in the October 19 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.


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