Amazon and Apple started in Garages. B’s Treats: The basement of her home. Her workstation is a ping-pong table. On the table are dozens of unfrosted cookies–she is preparing for an upcoming farmer’s market that weekend. Next to her is the hot pink Kitchen-Aid® mixer she bought herself at age 9. Across the room is the 3D printer she uses to make cookie cutters and then the pièce de résistance: her edible ink printer. She saved a cool $3k from her cookie sales to buy that.
At just 13 years old, Berkeley has turned her passion for baking and artistic talent into a thriving cookie business. She manages it all: the sales, baking, decorating, marketing and ops. She has already had to use a commercial kitchen to bake for a large order and has learned the value of saving money in order to purchase upgrades for the business.
I knew I wanted to talk with B before I left for California. I had a feeling she would have some gems for all of us. After all, we can learn lessons from anyone, at any age! We don’t have to look to just our peers or those more experienced than us for advice, so I asked her mom if I could speak with her and feature her on my “Lessons from the Road” series. Prepare yourself to be inspired by her success and amazed by her business acumen.
Here are six valuable lessons from our conversation that we can all apply to business:
1. Have a proven process. You need a proven way to provide your service or product to your customers and you should do it that way every time to produce the same results. This can take years to refine, but B already has it down pat. Berkeley’s creative process begins with sketching out her designs on her iPad using a drawing app called Procreate. She wants to ensure the custom designs are just right for her customers. Afterall, that is why they come to her! While she relies on a cookie printer for intricate designs, she also showcases her artistic skills by free-handing the rest. Additionally, for unique requests such as a 1960s-themed birthday party (a hand giving the “peace sign”) or cookies for a Taylor Swift concert (Maaaaaaybe I am the one who ordered these), Berkeley utilizes a 3D printer to create custom cookie cutter shapes. Most of her inspiration comes from Pinterest and Instagram although I would argue people are likely inspired by her artistry.
Y’all, her designs are ridiculously good. Aside from the meticulous decorating, she has a tried and true recipe for the cookies and frosting and she uses a systematic approach to ordering and delivery:
- No orders via DM’s.
- Go through her website.
- Tell her what you are thinking for design/theme.
- Pay upfront.
This streamlined and efficient process results in satisfied customers that enthusiastically spread the word about this teenager’s talent.
2. Make smart investments. Berkeley’s business acumen shines through her remarkable ability to save money and make strategic investments. In a short span of one year, she leveraged her cookie sales to acquire a game-changing $3,000 edible ink printer, unlocking a whole new level of customization in her designs. The true allure of B’s treats extends beyond the fact that she’s a talented 13-year-old entrepreneur; it’s the incredible artistry displayed in her cookies. With this cutting-edge printer, Berkeley can bring her artistic vision to life and efficiently scale her operations. Berkeley also purchased the KitchenAid Mixer herself at age nine, an early investment that has paid dividends in efficiency. We all know time is money and her mom’s hand mixer was not cutting it. Her commitment to saving money and making wise financial decisions exemplifies her maturity beyond her years.
3. Own up to your mistakes. (this is honestly a great lesson for life in general). B forgot about an order and had to make a phone call to the customer to tell her so. She could have easily had her parents bail her out in this situation or blame it on something else (the dog ate the cookies) but she owned up to it and offered to make it right on the next order. Such a young age to be learning the valuable lessons of accountability and self-reliance in business!
4. Sometimes you just gotta be scrappy. – Berkeley’s debut of selling her product to the masses started by participating in a local farmer’s market, where her exceptional product attracted attention and inquiries about an Instagram account… except she didn’t have one. In fact, this was her first time making cookies to sell to the public. But this didn’t phase her. Recognizing the opportunity, Berkeley quickly established an online presence by setting up an IG account (right then and there), and going home after to create a website and business cards.
5. Always do consumer research! According to B, “You just got to know what people like. Like, you’re not going to sell bacon flavored soap. People aren’t probably going to buy that.” So, she goes to TikTok to find the latest trends in cookie decorating to be relevant to her audience. Even this young entrepreneur has the fundamentals down!
6. Don’t underestimate the power of word of mouth marketing. While word-of-mouth remains the cornerstone of Berkeley’s thriving business, she understands the influential role of social media in amplifying her brand. Starting with her Instagram account, she’s attracted audiences by sharing her beautiful cookie designs through Reels she makes herself.
Berkeley’s advice to aspiring entrepreneurs?
“I would say probably just make sure you’re prepared, because if you just go into it and you have no idea what you’re doing, then you’re going to have people that are asking a bunch of questions.. You don’t know what you might get into, but you want to know as much as you can. You’re not just going to get in and be like, ‘I’m going to make cookies, but I don’t have a cookie recipe.’” Such practicality!
What’s Next? Besides starting the 8th grade, playing in club volleyball games, redoing her bedroom with her hard-earned money and just normal 13 year old sassy stuff? Berkeley plans to continue running her business. “I just want to keep going as long as I can.”
I’m here for it, B. Thank you for sharing your wisdom with all of us and for inspiring me to keep going on my own entrepreneurial journey.
Inspired by her hustle? Impressed by her talent?
Let’s Grow! 🌱