Baking and eating sea turtles might not seem like the best way to save them, unless the turtles are really cookies and a portion of the proceeds from selling them goes to help actual sea turtles.

Then it’s OK.

That’s the essence of a just-signed, year-long contract between South Padre Island-based Sea Turtle Inc. and Doughmestic Sweets LLC, a home-based baking operation launched last month by Brownsville resident Patricia Ramirez-Biondolillo. The company has committed to donating 3 percent of revenue from sales of all its cookies, not just sea turtles, for the next 12 months.

Ramirez-Biondolillo, a science teacher and University of Texas Rio Grande Valley doctoral student, wanted to combine her love of baking and art with her passion for science and marine conservation.

“I came up with partnering with Sea Turtle Inc.,” she said. “I called them and they said yes, absolutely, and we signed a contract.”

Sanjuana Zavala, marketing director for Sea Turtle Inc., said it’s an example of the “proceed projects” the nonprofit has with a number of local, regional and national businesses.

“She brought her cookies, we tried them, we loved them,” she said. “We started a one-year campaign with her proceeds donations to Sea Turtle Inc. That actually started last week. … We love cookies. It’s extra special to have the sea turtle theme.”

Doughmestic Sweets operates under Texas Cottage Law, which allows for home-based food businesses as long as labeling requirements are met. Ramirez-Biondolillo said Facebook, door-to-door and word-of-mouth are the extent of company’s marketing and advertising, though the response has been robust. Baking and delivering cookies on top of raising three kids and working on her doctorate is keeping her busy, though her family is very supportive, she said.

“I’m booked all the way till June 21 actually,” Ramirez-Biondolillo said. “Yesterday we had four dozen. Next week we have three. And this past weekend we sold 50 cookies for a baptism. … The majority right now are people on the Island that are coming to visit, so a lot of my sales have been here on South Padre Island.”

The marine-themed cookies — her repertoire includes starfish, jellyfish, seahorses and other denizens of the deep — are a way to welcome the tourists and give kids something they’ll like while spreading awareness of conservation, she said.

Ramirez-Biondolillo is planning a pop-up sale for Sea Turtle Inc.’s Father’s Day event on June 16, which coincides with Sea Turtle Week and World Sea Turtle Day. Her cookies will also be part of Sea Turtle Inc.’s Fourth of July family event.

“We’re looking for a storefront, so hopefully we’ll have a storefront in Port Isabel, on the Island or in Brownsville, wherever we can find one,” she said. “Or a commercial kitchen that would allow us to use their kitchen and space, so that we can grow our organization and donate to multiple nonprofits.”

Ramirez-Biondolillo has in mind Friendship of Women Inc. Brownsville and Veterans Outreach in Harlingen among other nonprofits she’d like the company to be able to support simultaneously. Sea Turtles are just the start of a movement she hopes to spark and which she’s calling “Bake a Difference.”

“I want people to see that you don’t have to be a big organization,” Ramirez-Biondolillo said. “It’s all about compassion, kindness. We need so much of that in the world right now. There’s so much negativity out there. I want to be an advocate for change. I really want to move that forward: bake a difference.”

Doughmestic Sweets LLC

(956) 266-8827

Patricia Ramirez-Biondolillo, founder and owner of Doughmestic Sweets LLC, displays a plate of cookies as Gerry, an Atlantic green sea turtle, swims in his tank at Sea Turtle Inc. on June 5. STEVE CLARK/THE BROWNSVILLE HERALD
Shown is a sampling of the cookies Patricia Ramirez-Biondolillo is baking to help support Sea Turtle Inc. on South Padre Island. STEVE CLARK/THE BROWNSVILLE HERALD