Circle Back: Cordia Harrington

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By Jane Allen, Nashville Entrepreneur Center CEO

Several years ago, when starting out as an entrepreneur in Nashville, I was honored to receive nominations for business awards from the Nashville Business Journal and others in our community.

Quite honestly, it was a bit intimidating to walk into a grand ballroom with others who were so much further along, even as I realized how validating it was for the people who took a chance and believed in our vision.

But one thing I will always remember about those evenings is Cordia Harrington. 

Cordia Harrington — known affectionately around town as the Bun Lady — would show up to these events with her prosthetic “buns” and bring the house down. I was in awe, admiring her and thinking, “Wow, it must be a ride to work at the Tennessee Bun Company, (now all grown up and called The Bakery Companies).” She just had such an energy about her, an electric confidence and enthusiasm.

I learned that Cordia had gotten her start owning a McDonald’s location in Effingham, Illinois and had pivoted to meet a need she’d noticed in the bustling day-to-day of being a franchisee: She started making buns for McDonald’s, then grew her supply chain by adding Pepperidge Farm, KFC and  many more. My thought was most people would be content owning a McDonald’s franchise; especially back then, a woman owning a McDonald’s franchise was a big deal.

But not this woman — she wants to do more.

I became a fan, albeit a far away fan, as I never really got to know Cordia – just admired her from a distance. It wasn’t long after that Cordia started winning even more awards at the local business ceremonies – this time with Bun Lady Transport – and I thought, “Why of course – she now owns the logistics/transportation side of her business to distribute her buns!” It seemed the perfect next step for an entrepreneur who knew she could do it all.

This woman founder is a true entrepreneur and we are honored to share her entrepreneurial story in Season One of Circle Back. While I have always been a fan, after listening to her story, I now admire, respect and value having Cordia Harrington as a part of our entrepreneurial community even more.

When you listen, you will hear her energy and authenticity, more importantly, you’ll learn a few things about entrepreneurship and leadership. Thank you Cordia for being a mentor, albeit from afar, to me and other entrepreneurs.

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