Life’s a Cakewalk for Sha’nelle!

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Life’s a Cakewalk for Sha’nelle!

Sha'nelle Huff started her own cupcake business at a young age.

Sha'nelle Huff started her own cupcake business at a young age.

Madison Muse

Sha'nelle Huff started her own cupcake business at a young age.

Madison Muse

Madison Muse

Sha'nelle Huff started her own cupcake business at a young age.

Madison Muse, Staff Writer

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Born in a mixing bowl, raised in an oven, the creation of cupcakes requires a precise and experienced hand, which can sometimes belong to the most unexpected person. Sha’nelle Huff, a seventeen year old from Leesburg, Virginia, is the owner of Cupcake Couture, a small cupcake business ran online. Now I know what you’re thinking, we’ve all seen Shark Tank, so it’s not totally uncommon for a seventeen year old to start a business, invent something, become social media famous, etc. But for Sha’nelle, she was just ten years old when she began this business venture with her mother.

The root of Sha’nelle’s culinary dream came from her grandmother, “My grandma inspired me to start baking, and then my mom took that idea and went ahead and turned it into a business.” She began baking from a young age with her grandmother, then later let that passion flourish into a thriving business, “ I baked a lot when I was younger, before I moved to Leesburg, Virginia. I lived in Williamsburg, Virginia before, and we were really close to my grandmother, who baked a lot. And then when I moved here, I didn’t bake as much, until I started my company, and that’s when I really started baking almost every single day,” Huff states.

From the beginning, the dynamics of Cupcake Couture had Sha’nelle mainly dealing with the cupcakes, while her mother handled the finances for her. “I would say I was exposed to less than 50% of the business side, especially during the first couple of years, because I was so young. Because I started my company at ten years old. I really didn’t have a lot to do with financial decisions or anything like that, that was handled primarily by my mom and a little bit by my dad.” As for the profits, “I’d keep whatever money I got from that order, and then my parents funded whatever – supplied me with the money to buy whatever supplies I needed for cupcakes.” Sha’nelle’s mother allowed to be fairly independent with her company, allowing her to create and deliver the cupcakes in a self-sufficient manner, “Basically, an order came in, I would bake it, I would bake it, decorate it – whatever, my mom would then drive me somewhere to deliver it.”

From the beginning, Cupcake Couture met admirable success, spreading to local businesses and throughout the community. “In the very beginning, I quickly partnered up with Panther Laser Tag, along with a couple of other different locations. I was selling my cupcakes, for birthday parties at whatever time they needed me. I would make cupcakes every single Saturday for Panther Laser Tag, along with every Tuesday for Jersey Mike’s and a couple other different locations, but aside from that I was mainly just doing orders based off of whatever came in through my website.” Her mother even helped her with advertising, making her company much more legitimate, “We advertised through a group on the River Creek website called RC Moms. My mom also put it up on Facebook and reached out to a couple of her other friends within the business world.”

It appears as though Sha’nelle’s business has had varying effects on her relationships growing up, which is understandable seeing as it’s not a common situation for a child to run a cupcake business. “Starting off with the negative, I had a hard time hanging out with my friends, in the beginning – when I was in middle school, because I would have to bake on the weekend, and be doing deliveries, or doing something associated with my business and I couldn’t just hang out like a normal twelve or thirteen year old or whatever.” Though her company put some strains on her relationships with her peers, Sha’nelle achieved many things and was presented with many opportunities through Cupcake Couture. “ I was able to bring in extra income that an average twelve to thirteen year old wasn’t. I was also exposed to business relationships within the culinary world.” One significant opportunity presented to Sha’nelle during this time was auditions for popular cooking shows, which exposed her to the inner workings of the culinary world. “I auditioned for Chopped Junior, I also auditioned for Masterchef Junior, I made it through four different rounds of that. I have met a couple different celebrities within the culinary world, I’ve met Gordon Ramsay, Candace Nelson and a French guy but I don’t remember his name.”

Today, Sha’nelle’s busy high school life has kept her from keeping Cupcake Couture a running business. “Because I am a high school student, I have a lot less time to do things that are associated or linked with my business. I work a hostessing job, a part time job, at Blue Ridge Grill, that is my primary job. I have the occasional order through my website and through my business but as of right now if I bake it’s mainly for fun or for a friend.” Although it was a significant achievement in her life, it looks like Sha’nelle is ready to leave Cupcake Couture in the past.

About the Contributor
Madison Muse, Editor

Madison Muse is a junior in high school and entering her third year of journalism. She is the assistant to the managing editor and undercover journalist...

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Life’s a Cakewalk for Sha’nelle!