Young business owner finds balance while earning two diplomas concurrently.
Thursday, May 6, 2021
Kenzie has been operating the thriving business all while completing her high school diploma AND an Associate of Applied Science-Business Specialist degree from Northeast Iowa Community College.
Young entrepreneurs know that a balance of great customer service, expertise, word-of-mouth advertising and social media savvy are the keys to running a successful small business. But try balancing all that with the responsibilities of both high school and college.
Kenzie Bouillon, 18, owns “Sweets by Keke” a bakery in New Hampton. She officially opened her doors in a kitchen attached to her family’s garage last January.
Kenzie has been operating the thriving business all while completing her high school diploma AND an Associate of Applied Science-Business Specialist degree from Northeast Iowa Community College. She graduates from the College on May 13 and will receive her New Hampton High School diploma ten days later on May 23.
“I love being my own boss and turning a hobby like baking that I enjoy into a successful business. For several years I have wanted to start my own bakery. Now I’m almost outgrowing the space I have in the bakery. My dream is to expand to a location on Main Street in New Hampton,” she said
Her growing number of customers’ love for her cupcakes, cheesecakes and cookies keeps her busy and looking to expand.
“It gets really busy, especially during holidays. I might be in the bakery nine hours a day,” Kenzie said, laughing. “Around Valentine’s Day I made 52 dozen sugar cookies for my customers. My cheesecakes are a huge hit. People say they’re better than what you find at The Cheesecake Factory.”
The student receives bakery orders through Facebook, by phone and text. Social media is often the most effective vehicle to grow the business and interact with customers.
“The biggest social media platform for Sweets by Keke is definitely Facebook. I receive orders from businesses in town and I take the treats to them. The bakery is really well-known right now,” she said.
Her older sister and mother help out as needed in the bakery and in the future Kenzie knows she will need to hire employees if the workload becomes overwhelming.
As a high school student she completed 60 credits through NICC since taking her first college-level courses as a sophomore. Her participation in the Career Learning Link program through the College offered opportunities to explore careers and advance her knowledge of business.
“I visited Northeast Iowa Community College when I was looking at colleges and I liked the size of it and how it felt. Teachers I had in my NICC online classes helped with questions I had anytime. I had a great experience taking online courses,” she said.