Lauren Forney was a finalist for the 2023 Rising Innovator Scholarship.

By Lauren Forney

My journey into becoming a small business owner/entrepreneur started by accident. As a four-year-old, my family and I were always involved in community service projects and believed in the Motto-Service Above Self. For example, we have canned food drives, scarf give-a-ways, teddy bear drives for children patients, charity art shows and we make nursing home visits. From this mindset, I organized and created my own Lauren’s Community Service Academy. Our mission is to help young people get more involved in the community and to engage in service projectsthat help uplift people and the community as whole. So, to thank our familymembers, friends, donors and supporters throughout the year, each year my mom and I would make cake pops and homemade candy treats and give them away as small tokens of appreciation for their ongoing support of me and my academy and community service efforts. We would give a way treats throughout the year and often during the Christmas season.

After friends, relatives and supporters began receiving our sweet treats, they wanted more of them. Therefore, in response to the requests we were receiving to make more treats, we set out on a journey to first have a cake pop tasting to test the market to see what folks liked and didn’t like. We developed a plan and mapped out a strategy for our first Cake pop tasting. One weekend we held a cake pop tasting and made over a dozen different flavors of cake pops and other specialty treats like chocolate.

We took notes, gathered feedback and data from the cake pop tasting and decided to explore the idea of starting my own cake pop business. As a result of my community service involvements and sweet treat give-a-ways my company Cake my Day was born.

My business began to fail when the pandemic hit, and the nation shut down. I had lots of inventory but no customers. I was worried that years of work would be lost and the money that I had spent would be lost forever. I was attending school virtually at the time. I was engaging in a plethora of multi-media platforms during classes. I was expanding my technological skills by using Google Meets, Zoom, Canva and other tools to enhance my skills to engage in school virtually.

Then, I had the idea of how I could keep my business afloat. I decided to offer virtual cake popping classes to children. I spent many hours investigating if it had been done. Looked at websites of others that were engaging in teaching new fun skills to kids virtually. I studied several platforms that were teaching a new skill virtually and decided to try my hand of expanding my cake pop business using technology.

I created a training module that included a baker’s box that could be shipped or picked up, videos that accompanied my online class. Decided to add an educational layer to my virtual classes. I created a training module that included two breakout rooms. One breakroom entailed a mini workshop with students on how to take a big idea and turn it into a business. Reviewed the definition of entrepreneurship reviewing key steps in planning and working your plan even as a child. The other breakout room was entitled igniting the creativity in your child.

I asked my mother to create a presentation where she would share tips and strategies with parents in a practical manner. Both breakout rooms were received with positive engagement from parents and students in attendance of the virtual classes. Also, included a certification prong to my classes. If the students were able to achieve keeping a certain number of cake balls on the stick, they would receive a Cake Popping 101 certificate. I plan to expand my classes to include Cakepopping 102 where I teach advance piping skills and Cakepopping 103 where participants master the art of Cake Pop Bouquets.

I began advertising on social media. The flyer is what was shared to communicate to the World at large that I was open for business. I shifted gears and revived my business. I included some personal touches to my classes. Once students were enrolled, I would send an electronic thank you card communicating that I was looking forward to seeing them soon. I also made a series of videos to strengthen the understanding of the participants.

To date, I have conducted 6 virtual classes. I have been able to save money toward my college education, develop critical thinking skills and developed communication skills. I would like to expand my Cake pop business, develop a website, and explore the possibility of adding more treats and more flavors to our current menu.

My entrepreneur mantra is, “if you give a person a fish, they will eat for a day but if you teach a person how to fish, they will eat for a lifetime”. Through business ownership and entrepreneurship, I would like to share and be able to metaphorically eat for a lifetime.