BAY CITY, MI — Natalia Luke is only in middle school, but she's already an entrepreneur, small business owner, competitive baker, and the youngest member of the Bay Area Chamber of Commerce.
“She originally started baking when she was about 5 or 6 years old,” said her father, Ali Smith, who gave her an Easy-Bake oven for Christmas one year.
Luke is currently an 8th grade student at Handy Middle School in Bay City and the owner of Natalia's Sweets D'light, a baking company that offers a variety of cupcakes and cookies.
“My favorite thing to make is probably cupcakes, because cupcakes are my favorite thing to eat,” Luke said, pointing out his mother Nicole Dyer's kitchen. I pointed out that I learned how to make bread by helping them.
“When I was little, my mom was always cooking and baking, so I was interested in it. … I really, really started to like it.”
Luke's cupcakes are sold at Gilly's Bistro (1023 N. Johnson St., formerly 3rd and Johnson Market & Eatery) in Bay City. She also accepts online orders.
When Smith stumbled upon “The Greatest Baker,” an online competition sponsored by Buddy Valastro, she knew it would be a great opportunity for her daughter.
Luke recently placed 4th in the semi-finals of an online voting-based competition.
“She was very excited, but even more excited about the support she received from the community,” Smith said.
Smith said her daughter started baking professionally last year after taking a baking class with Sierra Crudup, owner of Saginaw-based Delicious Sweets Bakeshop and Craven Cookies. .
And last fall, she won the Dare to Dream Pitch Competition by Kids Rule Now, a Saginaw-based nonprofit focused on developing young entrepreneurs in mid-Michigan, and received $1,000 for her business. won a dollar.
Magen Samin, president and CEO of the Bay Area Chamber of Commerce, said Luke is the organization's youngest member and they are pleased to have her on board.
“Natalia is a hard-working and ambitious young entrepreneur and we look forward to supporting her in her journey. When we talk about the need for talent in our region, young entrepreneurs like Natalia It is important to support them to retain them,” Samin said. “And may I just say that her cupcakes are delicious?”
When he's not baking, Luke is busy doing normal teenager things like going to school and playing sports.
What's next for Luke? The teenage baker is learning how to decorate cakes so she can add custom cakes to her product list and hopes to start taking larger orders.
“We want to expand our business so that more people know about it,” she said. “I also love sports like swimming and volleyball. That's what I focus on too.”
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