Over the past week and a half, we have been asked the question, “How did you manage to launch Layla’s Cool Pops in the midst of a pandemic?” My response has always been that this is something that has been 5 years in the making. Layla’s first vision of owning her own business came when she was in the 5th grade. After retiring from gymnastics, Layla needed another challenge and something else to focus on. She loved baking and the thought of baking to not only earn money, but to be able to help those in need really appealed to her.
During the Spring of 2018, Layla approached me and shared that she would love to open her own cafe one day and that she wanted to be able to teach other teens how to do what she does and expose them to some of the opportunities she has had. Because she’d been able to participate in several Edison Neighborhood Block parties as a cupcake vendor, we felt very comfortable in the community and had the opportunity to meet Roger Schmidt, an Edison real estate investor. Knowing Layla’s vision and knowing that there was a need for teens to have access to employment opportunities and skill development in addition to the other programs available, we conceptualized the idea of developing a Summer Youth Employment Initiative in partnership with WMU.