For Jane Hursh, a shortbread cookie is much more than a sweet and buttery accompaniment to a warm cup of tea; it’s a way to change lives. If that sounds a little too grandiose, you haven’t met Jane and her husband, John—and you haven’t tasted her amazing shortbread cookies.
Just a few years ago, Jane considered herself a hobbyist baker with a slew of friends and family members who had become diehard fans of her melt-in-your-mouth sweets. But after lots of encouragement and prodding, Jane secured commercial kitchen space at Truffles and Trifles in College Park, left her day job at Campus Crusade for Christ and started the business of baking for profit. But here’s the catch: She and John give all of their profits away—100 percent.
“This was, from the beginning, an opportunity to be involved with the community,” Jane says. “We’ve traveled and lived overseas, and kept wanting to give to women and children who need access to health care and education. We really felt compelled to pursue those kinds of organizations, abroad and right here in our community.”
While Jane handles the cookie operations, dubbed Jane’s Short & Sweet, John heads up 306 Foundation (a 501c3 non-profit), which has a mission to assist at-risk women and children. In addition to facilitating Toolbox for Life, a local culinary and life-skills program for women, the foundation supports organizations globally with an aim to address the needs of sex-trafficked minors.
These days, Jane is cooking out of the commercial kitchen at East End Market, where she can be found as early as 4 a.m. on Tuesday mornings cranking out dozens of cookies and filling the local food hub with the buttery aromas of her bounty. Her repertoire consists of about 30 shortbread flavors, with about six available at any given time online at janeshortandsweet.com and at retail outlets across Central Florida.
Her classic cookie will long be one of her best sellers, but fans also love the way she whimsically plays with atypical ingredients such as rosemary, blue cheese, walnuts and Parmesan, all of which find their way into her line of savory appetizer shortbreads. “Not all my cookies are meant for dessert,” she says.
But they’re all meant to please, and scores of orders from across the United States and around the globe prove that people love not only Jane’s cookies but her mission as well. “People want to give a gift that does some good,” Jane says.
“We follow the social entrepreneur model,” says John, who calls the venture a mom-and-pop operation, with the duo in charge of everything from licking envelopes to taking out the trash.
“I was on the Newman’s Own website the other day, and it says that they’ve given over $400 million in profits so far. We’re not even close to that yet, but we believe that this has given us a platform to accomplish our mission to make a difference in the lives of women and children.”