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Success Story: Kaliyah

July 12, 2013

IMG_5754Not many 15-year-olds can call themselves entrepreneurs, but for Kaliyah, a participant in Goodwill’s Career Leadership Academy for Youth (CLAY) program, launching a baking business was something that came naturally to her.

“The idea for starting a business came from a desire to call something my own,” says the rising junior at Phillip O. Berry Academy of Technology. “I’ve been baking since I was 12, so I figured why not do something that I love?” With specialties like Oreo cream cheese cupcakes, cake pops and custom cakes, Kaliyah’s business—called Sophistikakes—grew by word of mouth as people began noticing photos of her desserts on social media sites. Soon the orders for her baked goods started coming in from all over the community.

As the demand for Sophistikakes products grew, Kaliyah found counsel and support from Goodwill staff. She, along with her older brother Eddie and mother, had first come to Goodwill in January seeking employment opportunities. A Goodwill team member encouraged Kaliyah and Eddie to join CLAY, an intensive program that provides Charlotte youth with job skills development, mentoring and support services.

Kaliyah cake pops“My biggest challenge was time management and learning to juggle my schoolwork with my hobby,” said Kaliyah. “The CLAY team gave me advice, encouragement and motivation to keep baking without neglecting my school activities.” Additionally, the CLAY team connected her to a local baker and founder of Neet’s Sweets, where Kaliyah will intern as a baker’s assistant this summer.

The CLAY career counselors have also helped Kaliyah develop ideas for a recipe book, a project she hopes to complete in the next few years. “Right now I’m experimenting with different flavors and techniques and learning as I go,” she says. “I invested in a cake pop maker, but I found that I would rather do it by hand because it just tastes better.”

Kaliyah credits the CLAY program with giving her motivation and guidance on how to chart a course for eventually opening up her own bakery. “I like knowing that whenever I need help, there is always someone there to support me,” she says.

Elizabeth Isenhour

Elizabeth Isenhour

Who is someone in your life who has supported your career goals?

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