While growing up in Roslyn, sisters Ali Borowick Zmishlany and Lauren Borowick would help their mother Karen as she made chocolate covered pretzels in their kitchen.
“Our mom who was always making treats for us and everyone she knew,” Zmishlany said. “Her chocolate covered pretzels were our favorites and since she had so many sprinkles and kinds of chocolate in our pantry, we had a ton of fun helping her decorate.”
Zmishlany would graduate from Roslyn High School in 2002, going on to Binghamton University to study psychology with minors in art and business, then to New York University for a master’s in technology management.
It was in 2012, as Borowick, a 2008 Roslyn graduate, was finishing a bachelor’s degree in accounting at Cornell University, that the two sisters got the idea to start their business.
“On a Sunday, we were at home and hanging out with our family, but we had this conversation about pretzels that we used to make together,” Zmishlany said. “There was something unique about how our mom made her pretzels, and we discovered, we can do this ourselves. It was an idea that we couldn’t shake, to reinvent and modernize the chocolate covered pretzel.”
With Borowick still in school and Zmishlany working as a designer, the two sisters took a year and a half to create the prepare the concept for their business, which they wound up calling Fatty Sundays. Borowick herself had to make a choice after receiving a tempting offer.
“I had interned at Ernst and Young and got an offer to work there, but I deferred to do Fatty Sundays instead,” Borowick said. “And eventually I turned it down so I could work there full-time.”
Zmishlany would design the product and packaging, with Borowick taking on the business side. Both would work together to dip and decorate the pretzels.
“We’d make everything by hand, and would bring pretzels to stores in Roslyn and surrounding towns like Great Neck, and let them sample there,” Zmishlany said.
Eventually, the sisters would move Fatty Sundays into a space in Brooklyn, and would expand their team.
“We started by going around to places in Brooklyn and Long Island, asking if they’d carry us,” Borowick said. “Now, we ship nationwide.”
Prior to coronavirus, Fatty Sundays’ main focus was online retail, creating specially designed treats for weddings, corporate events, and use as party favors. The pandemic, though, meant a cut in their wholesale profits, until they added something that took off.
“We had thought of the idea to sell kits to make the pretzels at home, with melting chocolate and sprinkles,” Borowick said. “They didn’t sell at first, so we took them off the menu, but we ended up putting them back on during the virus, and it was a major success.”
Instagram influencers took a liking to the vibrant colors and photogenic nature of the pretzel kits, leading to parents buying them as an activity for their kids while under quarantine.
“I know a lot of kids usually are going to summer camp, and that’s not possible this year,” Borowick said. “You need adult supervision, but you can do it on your own, safely.”
“The kits were proving to be fun for everyone while they’re sheltering in place,” Zmishlany added. “It’s a break during the day, and it’s fun for the person who wants to decorate and have fun in the kitchen.”
Part of the profits from sales of the kits are going to the Bring Back Brooklyn Fund, a program from the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce to help small businesses affected by the coronavirus that have been shut out of traditional loan programs.
Parents and kids using the kits at home brings the experience full-circle for the sisters, whose parents still live in Roslyn. Their dad Jeff is their “biggest fan,” and runs their booth at the yearly Union Square Holiday Market in Manhattan, and their mother Karen continues to be the “care package queen.” Even people they knew in the past have been reaching out, like a former classmate of Zmishlany’s that planned a pretzel-decorating Zoom session for her daughter’s birthday.
“Two days ago, that I went to school with Roslyn someone reached out through customer service, and she ordered pretzels for her nieces and nephews,” Borowick said.
For the sisters, it’s gratifying for something that started in Roslyn to return as it grows.
“We’re on our way to becoming a household name,” Zmishlany said.
Pretzel kits from Fatty Sundays are available for purchase at fattysundays.com/collections/diy-kits.