Sports management senior Marileah Niddrie’s baking company Independent Sweets started out making money in an interesting way during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, she averages about 120 orders per month.
Niddrie’s business started out selling chocolate-wrapped treats on Facebook and Instagram, and has since expanded to include other baked goods such as cupcakes, brownies, cookies and deli boards. She also creates special limited-edition menus during most festivals.
Niddrie’s client base is primarily LSU parents. Holidays, welcome week and exam season are particularly popular order times, as parents want to buy snacks for their away-from-home kids. To keep up, Niddrie often works long hours.
“My day is usually waking up, checking my orders, going to school, coming back, going to the store – just the order, and then homework at night. So it’s repeating almost every day,” she said.
Niddrie believes part of the reason her business is so popular is that she delivers orders directly to student residences.
“A lot of my parents are usually freshman parents, so [the students] There are usually no cars on campus. So for them, you know, it’s kind of hard to get it…unless they mail it to the LSU mailroom. But I do think that’s one of my strengths, as you know, independent candy,” she said.
Niddrie is still deciding whether she wants to continue the business after graduation, but there are possibilities for the idea of expanding the business to a brick-and-mortar storefront.
“My ultimate goal might be to franchise at some point…I really want to try it out, especially for other colleges, because I know there are other parents out there [Facebook] They keep saying, ‘I have friends who have kids at other schools, and they want their schools to have something like this. So it’s definitely a work in progress,'” she said.
Niddrie said her career and the opportunity to meet so many LSU parents and students has been a “blessing” in her life.
“Just being able to work with … all these students from different locations, different backgrounds, different students is definitely something I really enjoy,” she said.
Heather Verdi lives in Massachusetts and has made multiple orders this semester for her freshman son.
Verdi purchased a deli board, brownies, cookies and chocolate-covered strawberries from Independent Sweets to send to her son during Welcome Week. She also ordered a biscuit cake for his 19th birthday — his first away from home. She was very happy with the service she received and has placed another order for Halloween.
Verdi was initially drawn to Independent Sweets’ display and variety of available items. Her son prefers healthier options, and Verdi said he especially likes the deli board with cheese and meat.
For out-of-state parents, mission hospitality can help them feel close to their children when they go to school, Verdi said.
“We’re too far away to see our kids as often. It’s good to send them something to let them know you’re thinking of them,” she said.
All the orders were delivered to her son’s dormitory, and Niddrie even sent a photo of the child holding the snack to the parents. After not seeing his son for a long time, Verdi said he was delighted to receive the photo.
“It was very helpful, out-of-state [and] Someone is there to offer something to your kids that makes them feel extra special and cared…especially for boys, they never send you pictures of anything, so it’s great to see your kids, ‘ said Verdi.
After hearing about Independent Sweets from the 2026 LSU Parents Facebook page, Suzanne Heck, who lives in Illinois, decided to place an order for her daughter’s birthday.
Heck ordered sugar cookies, M&Ms and Peanut M&Ms and brownies for her daughter. Heck also bought chocolate cake and chocolate strawberries for her mom, who spent her birthday in Baton Rouge visiting her daughter.
“[My mom] Loved it – she ate them all, she didn’t share,” Heck said.
According to Heck, Niddrie goes above and beyond with her clients. She recalled a parent mentioning that their child was sad and lonely, and Niddrie offered to meet them and make sure they were okay.
“[Niddrie is] A student, she’s so sweet and supportive and genuine with everyone…I think anyone who gets hurt, she’s, you know, [say] “I can help you, what can I do for you?” Heck said.
Heck said she was surprised by Niddrie’s work ethic and intends to order from her again in the future.
“It’s really impressive for a student to run a small business like this because it takes so many things – marketing, ordering, billing and delivery,” she said.
Christa Seal, from Bogaloosa, Louisiana, used Independent Sweets to send her son, a freshman at LSU, a dozen cookie sandwiches.
Even though she was in the state, Seal said seeing the photo of her son holding the treat meant a lot to her.
“He’s been gone for a while, so I’m kind of breaking down because you know, that’s my baby. But she sent me a picture with him and he was surprised. He didn’t even know what was going on, “she says.
Seal said Niddrie was always quick to respond, making it easy for parents to gift their children.
“You can contact her directly, graciously or pick something your child likes, which you would normally have at home…[Niddrie] It’s that simple. It’s just a really handy little service to surprise your kids,” she said.