After 8-year-old Jalen Bailey expressed a desire to buy his mother a house, Sharhonda Mahan took the proper channels to get her son’s bakery business running.
In July, the Fresno, California residents applied for the necessary licenses and signed the legal documents to make Jalen’s Bakery a reality.
Within a week, young Jalen was making, selling and shipping off his baked masterpieces to lucky customers.
Jalen’s popularity grew instantly, and local media outlets wanted to share his inspiring story.
Mahan spoke to Atlanta Black Star about how Jalen started his own company before the age of 10 and how homeschooling affected his drive in life.
Around 2014, 6-year-old Jalen was baking on his own and baked his first peanut butter cookie without the help of his mother.
“I look at cooking as one of those things — like a basic thing for me,” Mahan told ABS. “I taught him to read when he was very young, to clean up and cook … Those were essential things he would need to know … I tried to make sure everything was fun — especially the things I knew he would need when he was older.”
In fact, Mahan said then 6-year-old Jalen passed on his knowledge and taught his friends to bake.
The News Story Changed Everything
After a July 29 ABC 30 profile, Jalen’s bakery was the talk of the town.
“Before the news story, he would get about two to three orders a week,” Mahan said. “Since then, he has gotten quite a few requests. We weren’t able to process [all of them] because we weren’t able to ship [them] all. So that is what we are working on now … [Now,] I would say [we get] from three to 15 orders depending on the week.”
There were so many orders coming in after the first week, the website crashed.
“It was crazy!”
At the moment, it is just the two of them working on orders. But, their small numbers have not stopped their growth.
Since the bakery began in July, 100 customers have signed up on a mailing list to have pastries shipped to them.
Mahan launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise funds for shipping, commercial kitchen supplies, licenses for shipping and for his book club.
Donors have given nearly $6,000 of the $10,000 goal in 28 days.
The Bureaucratic Process
Early on, Mahan wanted her son to know the ins and outs of running a business. Years prior, he was homeschooled and taught life skills that public schools could not and would not teach him. This year will be Jalen’s first year at a public school.
As an entrepreneur, Mahan taught Jalen how to create a business plan, discover his target audience and decide which products he would sell and create.
“We started out with the Class-A license, which basically means that only Jalen could sell his cookies … He would literally have buy it and give it to you himself. But, with the Class-B license if a store in New York says ‘Hey … can I sell your goods here’ [we can let them].”
Jalen received his Class-B license in mid-August.
Mahan told ABS that the process was fairly quick, but going through the zoning and health departments was a first for her.
“Researching on how to get it started was the most time consuming,” she recalled.
Be A Boss, Not a Worker Bee
Before assisting Jalen, Mahan had a photography business, donation-based tutoring business and more ventures in her community.
She started the tutoring service to help kids who were failing in particular subjects. Many of her students were from a book club that she also created.
Her prior experience helped Jalen learn a valuable skill public school did not teach: entrepreneurship.
“I feel like those helped my son succeed — because in my own perspective — I see that they are taught to be workers. It’s something that I have to do so that my son could have that option. I feel that a lot of kids that are more privileged, they get more options.”
Mahan believes that her son should be able to have the same opportunities as children from wealthy homes.
“I try to [give him the option of entrepreneurship] myself and level the playing field. I’m not rich, but I want my son to get the best education that he can.”
Now, Jalen will enter public school to hopefully get accepted into a highly competitive school later on.
Parents Help Create the Dream
After watching her young son achieve so much, Mahan inspires others to give their children the push and support to make their dreams a reality.
“My mom is the one who inspired me to do the business,” Jalen told ABC 30. “… I wanted to be a millionaire. [And] I thought that wasn’t possible, but now I think it is.”
Mahan added that if you have a child who wants to start anything, “Just stand behind them.”