From left, Jalen Bailey and best friend A.J. Anderson pose with some oatmeal cookies. Jalen started his business in 2016 in order to save up for a house and a golden retriever. Now, he has an online course for other young entrepreneurs. Photo by Donald A. Promnitz
Written by Donald A. Promnitz
Editor’s note: As part of of cover of the 10th anniversary of the start of the Great Recession, we are featuring young entrepreneurs, or “kidpreneurs,” who represent the next generation of entrepreneurism that were in diapers during the start of the downturn.
What started as an 8-year-old’s desire to earn money for college, a house and a dog has turned into an online business with growing popularity, a seat at the Fresno Food Expo, and even a guest spot on television with Rachel Ray.
“So I was at my home thinking I could get out of my apartment for a change,” said Jalen’s Bakery CEO Jalen Bailey. “And I also wanted a golden retriever, so I had to work a lot harder to do that. And to get both of those, I thought I’d just do the thing that I love the most, which is baking.”
Two years later, Jalen’s Bakery is gaining a reputation for its quality — especially its signature chocolate chip cookies. And when Jalen isn’t doing homework, the kidpreneur is working from home as well as a commercial kitchen. According to Jalen, he takes an average of 50 orders a year, getting help from his mother and best friend, A.J. Anderson, for the big orders (20 dozen cookies) and catering jobs.
Though there is a challenge of balancing school with work, Jalen stated that there are advantages that come with age.
“I can learn a lot quicker,” Jalen said. “I don’t really have to process anything a little bit slower, because when I’m older, I’m going to have a lot of things on my time. But right now, I have enough room and enough space for new knowledge.”
Now, Jalen is on a mission to share that knowledge with others. He’s been giving baking lessons to other kids at their homes and at the kitchen where he does his work.
He also started the Plan Big Dreams Online Business Academy earlier this month. Created with help from his mother, Sharhonda Mahan, the five-week course is designed to help other aspiring kidpreneurs through all the steps of opening their own business.
“We get a lot of questions from parents who want their kids to start businesses — that they don’t know how,” Mahan said. “So what he ended up doing was something online.”
And while Jalen is still saving up, he remains determined to make his goals become a reality. According to him, no aspirations are too big.
“Work hard to achieve your dreams, and even though trials may be tough, please don’t listen to other people that you can’t achieve your dreams,” Jalen said. “Because one day, if you do achieve your dreams, you could prove them wrong, but if you just listen to them, then you’re not going to get anywhere.”