In a new and exciting series, I’m meeting up with inspiring millennial women who are challenging the perception that ours is a generation of spoiled, lazy and entitled young people. Featured in this inaugural series post is Kendra Coons, a fun, outgoing, and (despite her short stature), an exceptionally big-hearted young woman. I had the pleasure of getting to know during a volunteer stint in Peru, where we became friends amidst a community greenhouse project. Globetrotting on pause for the moment, Kendra currently resides in Toronto where she’s turned her apartment into the Bake-a-Change headquarters. Intrigued? Do read on…
Q: Kendra, in a nutshell, describe what Bake-a-Change is for people who have never heard of it.
A: The way I like to describe it is a modernized, glamourized bake sale. People place orders for whatever type of baked goods they want, (cupcakes, cake-pops, cookies, we’ll do anything), we bake it from scratch, deliver, and then all profits are donated to the charity of their choice.
Q: Mmm… sounds delicious. What charities are you currently working with?
A: I’m working with over a dozen charities right now that range in causes from the environment, health, animals, children and youth and lot more. But if a client has a specific charity that’s not currently listed on the website, we make that new connection and arrange for that donation to go exactly where the client wishes.
Q: So I have to ask, how did you wind up starting this?
A: Funny you should ask! Well, I have some very supportive friends that helped “push” me into this. Essentially, I’m obsessed with holidays, specifically baking for holidays. So every Christmas, Halloween, Easter (you get the idea), I used to bake for for all my friends and family. Eventually, though they loved the desserts, they begged me to stop bringing them so many treats and encouraged me to use my baking talents for my passion for non-profits. By day I’m a full-time professional fundraiser in the non-profit sector, so it was a natural progression to combine that love with my love of baking.
Q: So far, what has been the general response to Bake-a-Change?
A: Honestly, I did not expect anything to really come of this. I thought I would just make a little Facebook page, get a few orders from my network, and have a little hobby but it kind of snowballed from there. The response has been overwhelming! People have been so supportive and positive about what I’m doing. My roommates especially have been incredibly helpful, allowing me to take over our kitchen with cupcakes, helping me bake, even my neighbors have opened up their kitchen to me! One of the most amazing things was being contacted by Jenny at Tangerine Chan productions, she offered her videographer services to create an amazing promotional video! (Coming soon!)
Q: What has been most challenging?
A: There’s just a huge learning curve in setting up and running a business. At one point I accidentally deleted the whole website. Not even joking. But at the same time I’ve managed to find a lot of help in my network. I’ve had friends assist me with setting up a website, designing a logo, so I’ve been learning along the way. At this point the most challenging part is just managing to get all the orders out the door. I’m using an oven right now that can only bake twelve at a time and at this point I’m probably averaging 500 cupcakes a week!
Q: What do you hope Bake-a-Change looks like in ten years?
A: In ten years I want to be running the bakery full-time, with some staff and volunteers. I’m hoping to initiate and manage special projects abroad that Bake-a-Change’s profits would contribute to. This is more than a bake shop, this is a non-profit organization. I’d love to support some projects with Awaiting Angels, that organization in Peru we worked with. Oh yes, and I’d like to have an oven that bakes more than twelve cupcakes at a time.
Q: What are some of the immediate priorities for Bake-a-Change?
A: I am always interested in meeting with people who would potentially like to volunteer with us. People with viral marketing experience would be helpful to us right now, as well as anyone interested in baking and decorating. In the next year, I’d like to put together a project on Kickstarter to raise money for a physical location – hopefully in Stratford (Ontario).
Q: Kendra, exactly what is your favorite cupcake flavor?
A: Okay this will sound really weird, but I’m actually not much of a cupcake person.
Q: Sorry, did I hear that right?
A: Yes… it’s quite shocking. But I’m told my raspberry lemonade cupcake is amazing! Personally I’m into gingerbread, or pumpkin spice tiramisu.
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Kendra reminds me that we don’t have to know all the answers in order to start something great. Often, it’s taking that first step that’s the most scary, but once you do, amazing things can start to happen – Kendra’s proof of that.
After wiping the drool from your chin I suggest you check out Bake-a-Change here! And while you’re at it, consider ordering cupcakes with a cause next time you have a little soiree, or just crave cupcakes and want to feel less guilty about indulging!
If you ordered cupcakes from Kendra, what cause would you donate proceeds to?
Locations served: Greater Toronto area, Kitchener-Waterloo (other locations upon request)
Causes: Current list here
Events: Corporate events, weddings, private parties, individual indulgences, etc
Photo credits: Alvin @ Tangerine Chan Productions
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Liked this post? Read some of my other musings on the millennial generation…