Jalen Bailey is a 14-year-old entrepreneur and founder of Jalen’s Bakery, a business he started in 2016. Bailey started the bakery when he was eight years old because he wanted to raise money to buy a house for his mother and he is getting there one cookie at a time. He opened his bakery out of his mother’s kitchen in a small apartment in Fresno, California.
Baking is a tradition in his family. His mother, Sharhonda Mahan, is a baker and decided to pass on the skill to his son. And to inspire Bailey, his mother spoke to him about entrepreneurs of his age and how they are making six and seven figures.
“I’ve had side businesses since I was 18 so I felt that it was something he needed to learn,” Mahan told ABC 30. “If he wanted to be an entrepreneur when he grows up or it’s something he wanted to do on the side.”
According to Bailey, his love for baking is what drove him into it. “I love baking because it’s kind of like science — and that’s my favorite subject in school,” Bailey told Today. “You get to put different baking materials into a bowl and make something new, which is what science is all about.”
His mother helped him to register his business. He first started the business online and has since shipped hundreds of cookies worldwide “to put a smile on the faces of many.” Locally, he delivers to Fresno.
From his mother’s kitchen, Bailey makes cakes, cookies tarts and muffins with perfectly crisped edges. “He’s very excited,” mom Mahan told ABC News. “It seems like the more orders he gets, the more excited he gets and the more serious he gets about his business.”
Before opening his own bakery, Bailey started a book club for kids in 2013, holding weekly reading and activities. He and his mom invited mentors to come into their local library to read and speak with the students to encourage literacy, the importance of leadership and respect, according to a statement on his website.
Recently, Bailey was among the recipients of the maiden Central Valley Small Business Awards Breakfast of the Fresno Metro Black Chamber of Commerce. “These Fresno-based businesses were honored for the employment growth they have provided to the community,” according to ABC 30.
“Hundreds of thousands of small businesses here that really keep the economy turning, and we the state of California and the office of business and economic development really wanted to support those businesses, particularly in the wake of COVID,” said keynote speaker Dee Dee Myers.
Bailey was the youngest winner, and everyone present was proud of his story. “To me, it underscores the importance of entrepreneurship training, the importance of parents planting seeds and telling their children that they really can do anything,” Director of California’s Office of Small Business Advocate, Tara Linn Gray, was quoted by ABC 30.