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CNBC The Profit

"As a single mom, I never got to get a good job," says Lisa Howard, 28.

Lisa had her son when she was only 16. She was also in foster care at the time, so for more than half her life, she struggled to make a living and take care of her family.

And she's not alone. According to the United States Census Bureau, 27.5% of single moms were jobless in 2016, and those who did work only made an average of $34,500 that year.


Many single moms feel limited in their options, struggling to balance the demands of child care with workplaces that may not always be able to accommodate their unique needs. It can quickly become discouraging, a struggle that Lisa knew all too well.

"If you want your child to be the best they can be, you put them first," she says.

Despite challenges, Lisa didn't give up. And that determination would lead her on a path that would not only transform her family's life, but would allow her to support other families like hers.

But it wasn't easy. At first, they had to forgo some things many other families take for granted — like a car.

It was a "luxury" Lisa simply couldn't afford, so she and her son had to take the bus everywhere.

Despite that, Cory and Lisa made do as best they could.

Cory, however, wanted to do something big to help his mom— he wanted to make enough money to buy her a car.

He started selling cookies to passersby at a small stand when he was just 6 years old to put that goal within reach. Before long, he and his mom developed the definitive cookie recipe — and they decided to turn that into a fully incorporated business.

They called it Mr. Cory's Cookies.

Cory's the CEO of the company and Lisa's the CFO. Considering she was the catalyst for the whole idea, it seems like a fair split. They make a great (and adorable) team.

Their company garnered a lot of attention initially, even from talk show hosts. In fact, Ellen DeGeneres had him on her show and surprised him with a new car for his family.

But while his first goal of getting his mom a car was achieved, the duo now had a burgeoning company that still required some special attention.

Both mom and son still had a lot to learn about running a successful business, which they realized when problems with their distribution arose.

Since Mr. Cory's Cookies are made of all-natural ingredients, they don't have a long shelf-life, so their distributor couldn't distribute them as-is. As a result, the manufactured recipe changed and product sales came to a grinding halt.

Cory with Marcus Lemonis. Photo via CNBC.

Thankfully Marcus Lemonis, host of CNBC's "The Profit," came in to help turn things around.

Marcus learned at a young age how to help a business thrive. Now he's using that know-how to help other struggling businesses as part of the reality TV series.

After sampling their product and talking with Cory and Lisa, Marcus agreed to invest in their small company. And while he was incredibly impressed with Cory's maturity and go-getter attitude, it was Lisa's story that inspired him to take on the business.

My ❤️ #cookielove #iminlove #myeverything #shesthereasonforitall

A post shared by Mr. Cory (@mrcory) on

Since she had Cory so young and under difficult circumstances, she's always felt like she's been fighting tooth and nail to get the life she wants and, more importantly, deserves for her family.

This business opportunity is giving her a glimpse of what could be possible for her and Cory's future, which is why it's so precious.

It's her chance to reach the goal she's only dreamed of — running a truly successful company and maybe even help other moms like her along the way.

Lisa's long-term hope for Mr. Cory's Cookies is to hire a staff that's 70% single mothers to help give them a leg up.

Cory's mom, Lisa. Photo via CNBC.

"We can help them by giving them a chance," explains Lisa.

This business could be Lisa's opportunity to turn things around for women like her who've been fighting an uphill battle for their families.

Marcus helps Lisa and Cory get Mr. Cory's Cookies back on track, including solving their distribution problems and introducing them to key companies that can help them expand.

But does Lisa end up with her dream staff? Tune-in to The Profit tomorrow at 10PM ET/PT on CNBC to find out.

Can't wait till then? Here's a sneak peak of the upcoming episode.

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