The coronavirus pandemic in the United States has affected many businesses, however, Black-owned businesses were hit the hardest, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal. In the darkest period for small scale businesses in America, particularly Black businesses, many are innovating and finding new ways to stay afloat.
Starting a business in these uncertain times may be daunting but not for 15-year-old Layla Wallace, who has started her own cupcake shop called Layla’s Cool Pops. The teenpreneur has nurtured her business plan for nearly five years and it first came to her when she was in 5th grade.
She started Layla’s Cool Pops with her mom, Luchara Wallace, in 2016, serving the Kalamazoo area. After retiring from gymnastics, she needed something to focus on and took to baking as a way not only to make money but to help the less privileged in her society.
What began as a 4th-grade economics project is now a small neighborhood business. Layla’s products include cupcakes, cookie pops, brownies, and more. She also specializes in special orders and catered events. “It’s a very unique experience. Owning a business with my daughter, especially with her being 15 and a half.” Luchara told WBCV.
She recently received a grant of about $2,300 from the city of Kalamazoo’s Business Development Fund. The fund was used for technical assistance, such as in setting up a website and social media accounts, and for signage.
Layla donates 10 percent of her proceeds to charitable organizations or communities in need. “I feel like I’ve gotten what I’ve needed and wanted, and they don’t get what I get to have,” Layla said of her desire to help homeless people, according to MLive. “I care about them because we’re all people and we all need certain things and sometimes they can’t get what they need.”
She also plans to raise enough funds to build shelters for the homeless in her community. “Layla’s Cool Pops was established to support Layla’s Sweets4Homeless Initiative,” her website reads. “It is a non-profit designed to ultimately purchase homes for homeless families and provide financial support to other organizations in the community committed to combatting homelessness.”
Combining school and business has not been easy for Layla, especially when certain basic work ethics are expected of her. In a statement to Black Business, she said: “I think that some people think that my work ethic would be different because I’m younger, so I have to prove them wrong by working really hard. I still get scared of talking with people, so I’m warming up to talking with people and I still do school so it’s kinda hard.”