By Jay Powell The Daily Herald, Columbia, Tenn.
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) In between ballet lessons and singing gospel songs at her church you can find four-year-old Sky Hatton working in the kitchen alongside her grandma creating unique recipes for her cupcake company.
The Daily Herald, Columbia, Tenn.
It's never too early to learn about starting one's own business, and it helps when the product is something flavorful and delicious to satisfy the customer's sweet tooth.
Four-year-old Sky Hatton of Columbia is learning the ropes of entrepreneurship, and with great success, after recently founding her own baking company, Sky's Cupcakes, along with her parents James Jr. and Yolanda Hatton, and her grandmother, Sharmnitta Hatton.
After just a few months of creating fun and unique ideas, the business already has a growing customer base, and their cupcakes were a popular item sold at this year's Maury County Fair.
In addition to taking orders directly by calling (931) 255-3169, Sky's Cupcakes can be found at Bubba Gandy Seafood and Tallgrass Meat. Co., as well as Amber Falls Winery every other Saturday.
"We put a lot of time into making these cupcakes, creating the designs and making them homemade, never frozen or store bought," James Hatton Jr. said. "We don't use any cake mix, which is a little more expensive to make, but we want to make sure people are getting a good product. Even the icing is made from scratch."
Sky's love for baking began when she would watch cooking shows like Rachel Ray, Martha Stewart and "Cupcake Wars" on the Food Network, working alongside her grandmother in the kitchen and coming up with new ideas. Pretty soon the idea came about to start her own business and bring her tasty creations to the community.
"We've sold so many that we ran out of boxes last week," Hatton said. "The sales are really high right now, between selling at the fair and taking calls. We had more calls than we expected, but we are prepared now to meet all orders."
Sky's cupcakes offers 10 unique flavors, such as grape Fanta, banana pudding, PB & J and Mississippi Mud. Cupcakes are sold for $20 per dozen, as well as "specialty flavors" like peach cobbler or Grandma Sharon's Old Fashioned Caramel for $25 per dozen. There are also Sky's Cupcakes T-shirts sold for $15 in all sizes and colors.
Sky said her favorite is the multi-colored rainbow flavor, and what she loves most about the business is getting to spend time cooking with her grandmother. Her other hobbies include taking ballet at Columbia Dance Academy and singing gospel songs at church, but her biggest passion is working in the kitchen and creating new ideas she hopes people can enjoy.
"I love baking cupcakes and getting to work with Grandma," Sky Hatton said.
She also donates a portion of proceeds from the "pink velvet" flavor to charities for cancer research and prevention.
Her father said he is proud to watch his daughter's sense of entrepreneurship grow, instilling principles of working and supporting yourself at an early age, as well as how to manage money.
Ten percent of sales is donated to the family's church, Christian Faith Church, and another 10 percent is placed in a trust fund, while the rest is either put back into the business or used for things like toys, because after all she still loves being a kid.
"We take 10 percent and give it to church for our tithes, because that's the most important part," Hatton said. "If she wants to go to college or be an entrepreneur, the money will be there when she turns 18. Most of this money is going to a college fund, or trust fund, that we have set up for her."
Having her own business at a young age is also a valuable skill he tries to instill in her for future success as she gets older, namely being able to take care of herself and to always have a willingness to work hard to succeed.
"I always tell people she's pretty like her mom, but gets her business ambition from me," Hatton said. "I want to support her in everything she does. And I talk to her and teach her that you want to create a good product and for your business to succeed, because you don't want to grow up and have the government take care of you, pay your bills and rent. I want her to be self-sufficient and understand that you don't have to depend on government programs to be successful in life."
Sky's Cupcakes recently launched a Facebook page, where customers can learn about flavors and keep track of local events where cupcakes will be sold. The Hattons have long-term plans to launch a full website later in the fall, where customers can make online orders through Paypal. They also hope to have a full-time food truck by March of next year.
There are also plans to bring her cupcakes to local schools, starting with Riverside Elementary where Sky attends pre-K, and Little Tikes Daycare, where she also attends.
"We'll go to places like Riverside or Highland Park Elementary, and we're going to hand out free cupcakes and business cards so people can actually taste the product, and if people have a birthday or just for any day they can order from us," Hatton said. "It's a really good cupcake, and we're very confident in what we're selling."
The main goal, other than developing a larger local customer base, is to move into a brick and mortar facility in downtown Columbia, and eventually open in multiple locations in Spring Hill and other Middle Tennessee areas.
"We want to have a Sky's Cupcakes in every county in Middle Tennessee over the next 5-10 years. That's our plan," Hatton said. "Our slogan is 'Everybody needs some sugar in their life,' and we're just trying to provide that part."