Sweet Success: Freshmen turns passion into Profession

Mia Kweskin | Contributing Reporter

Courtesy of Shea Bakery
Handmade crafts and pictures of her two dogs Buddy and Jake color her dorm room walls, but perhaps the most prominent feature is the photo of a perfectly sculpted Sonic the Hedgehog cake—a cake of her own creation.

With an undeniable passion for baking, freshman Shea Gouldd, an entrepreneurship major in the Olin Business School, turned her passion into a profession at the young age of 14.

“I was in the eigth grade when [my passion for baking] really started to take over. I would bake for any possible excuse. If there were ever more than three people meeting up somewhere I would bring something I baked,” Gouldd said.

As she delved into new and elaborate made-from-scratch recipes, Gouldd realized her passion came with a price tag. With pressure from her mom to find a job that could help her pay for her baking necessities, Gouldd began to sell her baked creations.

“I sold my first cheesecake to a family friend in October of 2008, and by that Thanksgiving we had over 30 orders. It really hit the ground running,” Gouldd said.

With that first cheesecake, Shea’s Bakery in Delray Beach, Fla., was born. Law forbids running a food business out of a home, so Gouldd found a space through a family friend. The space, a warehouse for cars, has a kitchen that currently houses Shea’s Baker.

“They let me use it free of rent in exchange for me catering all of their events, which was wonderful,” Gouldd said. “Since then the building has changed ownership, so we do pay rent now, but we’re still in the same building.”

Shea’s Bakery caters weddings, baby showers, birthdays and more.

“When it comes to the food side of it, the best part for me is that we’re always involved in happy occasions and I love that,” Gouldd said.

For Gouldd, however, it isn’t the physical bakery items that define her experience as a baker and business owner. It’s the impact she has had on young entrepreneurs that takes the cake.

Gouldd has the opportunity to speak in front of kids, specifically young girls.

“They’ll come up to me and tell me that I’ve inspired them, and that means more to me than anything that could possibly come out of that kitchen,” said Gouldd. “My dream beyond anything else is to, no matter what I’m doing in the future, be in that position where I can use my presence in a good way and inspire others.”

Courtesy of Shea Bakery
Shea’s Bakery donates 10 percent of all profits to charities including the Wounded Warrior Project, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and various autism charities.

Olin Associate Dean and Director for Undergraduate Programs Steve Malter, who describes Gouldd’s cookies and cake pops as “absolutely outstanding,” said that it’s not uncommon to find business students who have had entrepreneurial experience. However, it’s Shea’s commitment to her business and her charity endeavors that make her stand out.

“I think that Shea certainly stands out in the sense that not only is she involved in an entrepreneurial endeavor, but she went as far as opening her own store and really had tremendous success with her baked products—also with the way she ran her business, giving 10 percent of her proceeds to charity,” Malter said.

Malter anticipates Gouldd’s ability to contribute to class discussions with her experience in business.

“She’ll really be able to have that real world experience, and she’ll be able to connect what she’s learning in class with how she’s seen it play out, and I think that’s just a wonderful perspective to have as a first-year student,” Malter said.

This past June, the National Federation of Independent Business flew Gouldd to Washington, D.C., after she was named one of the top five finalists for Young Entrepreneur of the Year. Gouldd met with senators and representatives to discuss the importance of young entrepreneurship.

At a luncheon after these meetings, Gouldd was named the Young Entrepreneur of the Year, beating out the four others that rounded out the top five. Her congressional representative, Rep. Lois Frankel, spoke about Gouldd’s achievements on the House of Representatives floor a few days after the luncheon. Gouldd described the recognition as “incredible and totally unexpected.”

Gouldd’s roommate, Alena Antonowich, insists that Gouldd stays humble about her business success.

“Shea [Gouldd] is super sweet and very outgoing. She never tells anyone about her bakery,” Antonowich said. “Needless to say, our floor has been very excited about having a world-class baker on our hall, especially since this means treats for everyone’s birthdays.”

Gouldd is eager to begin creating her floormates’ birthday treats because it will give her the baking outlet she needs at school. Although baking has become work for Gouldd, she insists that it remains a release.

“Baking is more than a hobby to me now. It calms me down. It’s my way of sort of getting in the zone and it relaxes me, so it’s going to be an outlet for me while I’m here,” she said. “There is an oven in the basement floor of our dorm, so if I’m not in my room you’ll probably find me in the kitchen. It’s my therapy.”

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