Independent Sweets, the baking business of sports administration manager Marileah Niddrie, started as a fun way to make money during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now she averages about 120 orders per month.
Niddrie’s business started out selling chocolate covered candies on Facebook and Instagram and has since expanded to include other baked goods, such as cupcakes, brownies, cookies and charcuterie boards. She also creates special limited-edition menu items during most holiday seasons.
Niddrie’s clientele is primarily made up of LSU parents. Holidays, welcome week and exam season are particularly popular times for ordering, as parents want to buy treats for their children who are away from home. In order to keep up, Niddrie often works long hours.
“Usually my days get up, go over the orders I have, go to school, come back, go to the store – just orders, then homework in the evening. So it’s like that pretty much every day,” she said.
Niddrie thinks one of the reasons her business is so popular is because she delivers orders directly to student dorms.
“A lot of my parents are usually first-grade parents, and so [the students] generally do not have a car on campus. So it’s kind of hard for them, you know, to get deliveries…unless they’ve mailed it to the MJS mailroom. But I really think that’s one of my strengths, as you know, Independent Sweets,” she said.
Niddrie is still deciding if she wants to continue the business after graduating, but has ideas for potentially expanding the business into a physical storefront.
“My ultimate goal might be to franchise it at some point…and I really want to maybe even try, do it for other colleges specifically because I know there have been other parents on [Facebook] who said, “I have friends who have kids at other schools who would love to have something like this at their school.” So it’s definitely a work in progress,” she said.
Niddrie said her business and getting to know so many LSU parents and students has been a “blessing” in her life.
“Just being able to connect with…all these different students from different backgrounds, from different places is definitely something that I really appreciate,” she said.
Heather Verdi lives in Massachusetts and has placed several commissions this semester for her freshman son.
Verdi bought a charcuterie board, brownies, cookies and chocolate-covered strawberries from Independent Sweets to send to his son during Welcome Week. She also ordered a cookie cake for her 19th birthday – her first birthday away from home. She was so pleased with the service she received that she has already placed another order for Halloween.
Verdi was originally drawn to the display and variety of items available at Independent Sweets. His son prefers healthier foods and Verdi said he particularly enjoyed the charcuterie platter with cheese and meat.
For out-of-state parents, Verdi said sending treats helps them feel close to their children while they’re in school.
“We are so far away and we cannot see our children often. It’s good to send them something to let them know you’re thinking of them,” she said.
All of the orders were delivered to her son’s dorm, and Niddrie even sends photos to parents of their child holding the treats. After not seeing his son for so long, Verdi said it was nice to receive the photos.
“It was extremely helpful, being out of state [and] having someone on hand to provide something for your child to make them feel extra special and taken care of… Especially with the boys they never send you pictures of anything so that’s nice to see your child,” Verdi said.
After hearing about Independent Sweets from an LSU 2026 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 his daughter. Heck also bought brownies and chocolate-covered strawberries for her mother, who spent her birthday in Baton Rouge to visit her daughter.
“[My mom] loved it — she ate them all and she didn’t share them,” Heck said.
According to Heck, Niddrie goes above and beyond with her clients. She recalls a parent mentioning that their child was feeling sad and lonely, and Niddrie offered to meet them and make sure they were okay.
“[Niddrie is] a college student, and she’s just really kind and supportive and genuine with everybody… I think anybody that’s hurting, she would, you know, [say] “I can help you, what can I do for you? Heck said.
Heck said she was amazed at Niddrie’s work ethic and intended to commission her again in the future.
“It’s really impressive for a student to run a small business like this, because it takes a lot of work: marketing, ordering, invoicing and delivery,” she said.
Christa Seal is from Bogalusa, Louisiana, and used Independent Sweets to send a dozen cookie sandwiches to her son, who is a freshman at LSU.
Even though she’s in good shape, Seal said it meant a lot to her to see her son’s picture with the treats.
“He had been gone for a while so I was a bit broken because you know he’s my baby. But she sent me a picture with him with the things and he was so surprised. He didn’t even know what was going on,” she said.
Seal said Niddrie was always quick to respond and made it easy for parents to send their children a gift.
“You can just reach out to her, sort of choose what your kid likes that you would normally have at home…[Niddrie] just made it so easy. It was just a very handy little service to surprise your child,” she said.