The Baltimore sisters who got Walmart deal from cheesecake business they started during govt shutdown

Ama Nunoo October 02, 2019
Baltimore sisters who began cheesecake during government shutdown get a Walmart deal

In January, the U.S. government had a partial government shutdown, the longest in American history.

Many families were severely affected. In homes where both spouses were government workers, they could barely keep food on the table or even purchase toiletries at a point during the shutdown.

So, what started as a leap of faith for two sisters who also got furloughed by the government, has become a full-fledged business that supplies cheesecake to Walmart as of August 18 this year.

Nikki Howard and Jaqi Wright were both government workers who were forced into a long leave of absence during the shutdown.

The sisters worked as a human resource at the Food and Drug Administration and the Department for Justice respectively.

Combing their passion for cheesecake and their drive to make ends meet during the shutdown, Furlough Cheesecake was born.

Speaking to ABC 7, Wright said, “We had bills due and no pay checks coming in, including college tuition. So, we had to think fast.”

For the sisters, the idea behind homemade cheesecakes sprung up at a New Year’s family dinner. When Howard made cheesecakes for dessert, Wright and their mother were impressed with the flavours from the cake and its taste.

“My mother said, ‘Girl, you could sell these cheesecakes,’” Jaqi said. “And I was like, why don’t we sell the cheesecakes?”

The mere thought of selling the cheesecake struck a chord for the sisters who were at the end of the road and they decided to give it a go.

“Light bulbs went off and the Furlough Sisters and the Furlough Cheesecake came about,” Nikki said.

Right away, they started making and advertising their cakes through social media and then through their website,

They gained traction and after their first interview in January with ABC 7 through to their appearance at The Ellen Show, they began receiving nationwide orders.

“Almost instantly, we had thousands of orders,” said Wright. “I was trying to think how we were going to make a hundred, and then we got requests for thousands.”

The company instantaneously shot up and they had to rent industrial kitchen space to cater for the massive orders. This was the green light that made the sisters resign from their government jobs to take the cheesecake business to the next level.

The Baltimore sisters who got Walmart deal from cheesecake business they started during govt shutdown
Photo: Facebook

Wright said, “We furloughed the government in March.” They went with their gut and plunged into their own business not knowing what the outcome could be.

“Don’t be afraid to take a leap of faith,” Wright said. “Fear could have kept us waiting for the government to make up their mind about our pay, but when we realized that we had something special, we decided to just go for it. At some point, you just must step out and believe in yourself,” HuffPost reports.

Maisha Dellinger, the founder of CURLS, the organic hair-care line, had offered her assistance to the sisters after they went viral. She established contacts with Kinna Thomas, a senior buying manager for cakes and pies at Walmart. 

Howard told Huffpost that “For us to have an opportunity to speak with Kinna and then be invited to Walmart for them to taste our cheesecakes, that was amazing.”

The highlight of their short business is the Walmart deal. They currently supply mini cheesecakes to 100 stores in Washington, Virginia and Maryland.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: October 2, 2019


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