Barack Obama’s historic and successful campaign for the presidency provided a sweet victory for many voters across the country, and James Mathis of Indianapolis has been adding something else sweet to all the excitement.
Mathis, the owner of Ministry Cookies Inc. has been selling special edition cookies that feature several images of Obama, including him posing alone, with his wife Michelle, with daughters Malia and Sasha, and with Vice president-elect Joe Biden.
During a recent Sunday Mathis brought in dozens of the cookies for members of First Baptist Church North of Indianapolis, his home congregation, to enjoy.
“Man, they ate those cookies up,” Mathis said, laughing. “Everyone tried them and some people even said they wouldn’t eat the cookies, just freeze them and hold on to them as souvenirs. I told them they didn’t have to do that; we can always make more.”
Fun and excitement over Mathis’ products is nothing new, since he has been designing and selling cookies for more than six years. During that time Mathis has developed an impressive product line that can fit the needs of anyone.
His cookies range in size from three inches to 16 inches, and come in nine different flavors. Customers can have anything they want printed on the cookies including photos, Bible verses, holiday greetings, friendly messages or even business information.
“If you change your e-mail address, for example, you can have your new address printed on cookies and delivered to all of your business associates,” Mathis said.
Mathis can also bring in cookies for birthday parties, weddings, business functions and other activities.
Ministry Cookies was established in 2002, when Mathis came up with an idea to help publicize a drug rehabilitation ministry at Emmanuel Missionary Baptist Church. He produced dozens of cookies that contained the points of the 12-step program used by Alcoholics Anonymous and many people to get free from alcohol or drug addiction.
“That was helpful because some people don’t get the help they need because they’re afraid of embarrassing themselves and their families,” said Mathis. “With these cookies they were able to benefit from the 12-step program anywhere,” said Mathis.
Mathis consults with customers to design the cookies, then places an order for them to be made at First Avenue Cookie Co. in Carmel.
Mathis appreciates his partnership with the company because there’s no overhead costs to have cookies made.
However, Mathis says he must give 75 cents on each dollar he makes for a cookie to the manufacturer, which has made it difficult for him to make a profit and expand Ministry Cookies. Also, like many Americans, Mathis is facing severe financial challenges in this nation’s sour economy.
“I would like to grow ministry cookies in order to share these products with more people, but due to the hardships of life it hasn’t happened,” said Mathis. “My 10-year-old son and I have faced eviction, and other problems. Pennies have been standing in the way of dollars for a long time, and I’m ready for them to get out of the way.”
Indeed, the lack of financial collateral is standing in the way of Mathis securing a lucrative sponsorship deal with the Indianapolis Colts, as well as bar codes government-mandated health labels needed to place his products in stores that would otherwise sell them including Kroger and Marsh.
Mathis is currently looking for more opportunities to share his cookies with customers, and has been quietly searching for potential investors to plant “seed capital” into the growth of Ministry Cookies, which he says has the potential to become a multi-million dollar company once people become aware of its products on a national level.
“I don’t think anybody in the country, let alone Indianapolis, is doing what I’m doing, especially with these Obama cookies,” Mathis said.
He added that the growth of his company will not just be a blessing to him, but would help Ministry Cookies finally meet the goal of being an actual ministry. Mathis would like to open a shelter for the homeless and provide assistance to individuals who have been stressed with severe financial setbacks like himself.
Mathis, however, says he has been mostly met with a cold reception from people who are “willing to eat up my sample cookies, but won’t follow up” with promises of support or opportunities for him to earn more business.
Mathis does have some faithful supporters in the community, including his pastor, Dr. Ivan Douglas Hicks of First Baptist Church North of Indianapolis.
“Brother Mathis definitely has great and awesome cookies,” Hicks said. “We know many wonderful things are going to come out of his ministry and we are privileged and honored that he chose to be a part of our church history in this way.”
Pastor Joe Johnson of Lawrence United Methodist Church has worked with Mathis in youth mentoring programs, and his congregation has also enjoyed the cookies.
“I really do think they are great,” Johnson said. “James is a person who has a lot of determination and faith in God. He’s really doing some positive things through his cookies.”
For more information about Ministry Cookies call (317) 717-7989.