Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Local Ladies Enter Dragons' Den

Nine of Foam Lake, Saskatchewan’s ten “Breast Friends” are appearing on Dragons' Den tonight to pitch their latest business idea. The group of ladies has raised money for breast cancer research since 2004 when they self-published their first Breast of Friends cookbook. Foam Lake is about a half-hour's drive from here.

Here's an article from Saskatoon's Star-Phoenix:

From grassroots to incredible success, the Breast Friends never seem to lose momentum. Nor do they lose focus. They continue to work for the cancer cause -- raising more than $1 million for the fight against cancer via their fundraising cookbooks.

"Whenever we get tired and lose energy, there's always something that comes out of the woodwork and re-energizes us, and away we go," Patti Hack, one of the 10 "seasoned" members of the Breast Friends group, said in a telephone interview from her home in Foam Lake.

Breast Friends is comprised of Hack, Cecile Halyk, Linda Helgason, Darlene Cooper, Jacquie Klebeck, Jeannie Johnson, Val Helgason, Anne Reynolds, Nat Dunlop and Charlene Rokochy.

On Wednesday night, the group of volunteer women from Foam Lake will be featured on CBC TV's Dragon's Den. The show sees entrepreneurs pitch their products to a panel of Canadian business people in the hope that one of the "Dragons" will invest.

The Breast Friends auditioned for the show in Regina this summer, and headed to Toronto for the taping.

The group isn't allowed to reveal what kind of deal they're hoping to get from the investors prior to the show airing.

"But what I can tell you is that we don't fit the Dragon's Den," Hack said. "When people hear that we're on, they're always amazed."

That's because Breast Friends is non-profit.

Hack chuckled as she recalled a self-published author, who previously appeared on Dragon's Den, who was told that no self-published author ever sells more than 10,000 books, so his book would never be a success and that he should get off the stage.

"I remember watching that and smiling, because at that point we were way, way, way past 10,000 and we're self-published authors," she said.

While in Regina babysitting her grandchildren, Hack decided to audition for Dragon's Den. She pitched the group's business plan and talked about what Breast Friends has done for sales and donations.

"We honestly thought that would be it, but they phoned us and said 'Come and tape,' " Hack said.

Nine of the 10 group members were able to make it to the taping in Toronto.

"And we only found out three weeks ago that we're on."

In addition to television exposure, the Breast Friends group has moved onto the international stage.

"We've entered a world cookbook competition in Europe," Hack said, though there is no word yet on how they fared.

The group was also featured in the November issue of Gourmand Magazine, a cookbook magazine published in Spain and widely distributed throughout Europe. The magazine featured Breast Friends as an example of a new trend -- cookbooks that support charities.

All of the Breast Friends cookbooks are national bestsellers. For the Breast of Friends, For the Breasts and the Rest of Friends, and Breast Wishes each contain over 400 tried-and-true recipes, as well as pictures, cancer information, quotes and quips and a generous helping of stories. The group's most recent cookbook, Breast Wishes for Christmas, features about 225 of the group's favourite Christmas recipes, as well as holiday quotes and heartwarming stories.

"We hit the ground running and we have not taken a breath," Hack said.

Since they published their first cookbook for the cause, two of the Breast Friends have moved away from Foam Lake and six members of the group have retired, which has created some challenges, Hack said.

"But we still love it," she insisted. "I don't think we are at the end of the journey yet."

For more information about Breast Friends cookbooks, visit their website at or call 1-877-560-4547.
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