Kalissa Armstrong, 16, launched her cake business when she realized that every week she was attending a different friends’ quinceañera, a coming of age ceremony common in the Hispanic community and is held on a girl’s 15th birthday. After doing some research on the city of Dallas where she lived, Armstrong learned that Hispanics made up 66% of the population and celebrated 20,000 quinceañera every year. So when she needed to start a business for school, Armstrong thought about her love of baking and decided this market was a prime opportunity to make a profit on quinceañera cakes. Now charging $35 per cake she has earned profits of $850 so far for 2009 and plans to open up a bakery in the future.
But scheduling around a business can be tough for a teen entrepreneur. For her first quinceañera, the high school junior had to bake two dozen cakes that would be used as centerpieces. “It was very challenging,” says Armstrong who says the job took her two and a half days and required help from four volunteers. Although she says she has fun baking cakes she still knows that organization is a key recipe to her success. Here is her advice on how to make the dough without missing out on the sweet life.
Create a detailed schedule. Armstrong suggests that teens make a chart of everything they need to complete in a day. Include time for school and homework before planning to spend time on the business. Finally, add must-attend events with friends and family.
Choose a business that is fun. Armstrong doesn’t mind spending 30 to 40 hours a week on her business because for her it doesn’t feel like a job. She had started baking as a hobby before coming up with the business concept. She encourages other teens to start a business doing something they already love to do so they won’t have a problem doing it. “Once my business is up and running, my hobby will have just turned into a career,” she says. “For me, that’s my fun right there.”
Don’t let your customers down. Some people will doubt your abilities because of your age. Make sure they know that they can trust a young start up, says Armstrong who is very aware of the importance that young Hispanic girls place on the success of their quinceañera. She compares their desires to how she wanted her own Sweet 16 party to be perfect. “Every time I make a cake I put myself right back in that place. I tell my customer…I will make sure your day is as perfect as my sweet 16.”