Lauren Crawford, 12-Year-Old Entrepreneur
Most twelve year olds spend their days going to school, doing homework, participating in after school activities, spending time with their friends, and helping out around the house. Lauren Crawford is no different, with one exception – she also happens to be the founder of her own successful business.
In 2010, Lauren, along with her mother Patricia Crawford, launched Notta Cupcake, a company that produces and sells kits that allow you to whip up a delectable treat in the microwave in less than five minutes. The kit includes an adorable cup, spoon, mini recipe book, cake mix, and other ingredients to create a cake in a cup – not a cupcake!
It all started when Lauren attended a summer camp at the age of nine where she learned about making microwave cakes in a cup. She loved the concept but not the cake mix. She thought she could do better. With the help of her mom, Lauren tweaked and experimented and finally came up with a recipe they loved. But that wasn’t the end of the story.
Feeling that this was a great learning opportunity, Patricia encouraged Lauren to take their recipe one step further. Together they worked on packaging, mixing, creating, and selling the kits at the Green Market in North Naples, Florida. It was intended as a Christmas project that would teach Lauren about business, responsibility, the value of work, and might even allow Lauren to open up a savings account. Today that “project” has exploded into a full-fledged business.
It wasn’t quite as easy as it sounds. There was a lot to learn for both Lauren and her mother about permits and food safety requirements, all of which they met successfully.
Together they designed their signature brown and white polka dot packaging. According to Lauren, the packaging was designed to be elegant yet still fun and equally attractive to both boys and girls. Each kit is beautifully wrapped, making for a perfect gift.
Since Patricia Crawford was long ago diagnosed with gluten sensitivity, they also created a gluten-free version of their Notta Cupcake mix. Today their gluten-free mixes are produced in a dedicated gluten-free facility and contain no GMO ingredients.
With everything in place, Lauren dressed up in her chef’s hat and apron and began selling the kits at the Green Market in Florida to customers from as far away as New York and Alaska. People were constantly commenting on Lauren’s “very cute cupcakes.” Lauren corrected them saying, “It’s not a cupcake, it’s a cake in a cup.” Thus, the name for the business, Notta Cupcake, was born.
Notta Cupcake has grown from selling one flavor of cake mix in kits at the Green Market to selling five flavors: Chocolate, Mocha Espresso, Carrot Cake, Gingerbread, and their newest flavor, Double Chocolate. All are available in organic wheat or gluten-free online and in select Whole Foods stores with more stores slated to sell their product in the future.
Lauren’s entrepreneurial spirit started early. At the tender age of four she was already creating lemonade and treats in her kitchen and selling them in the driveway of her home to neighbors. Lauren feels lucky and grateful that her mom has been able to help nurture that spirit and values the experience she is getting from running her own business. She has learned about all aspects of business from marketing to bookkeeping, experience she feels is invaluable for whatever the future holds.
And what does the future hold for this young entrepreneur? Lauren’s intention is to grow the company, to keep coming up with delicious cake flavors, and to eventually have her products sold in stores everywhere.
When asked about what advice she would give to other children who may have ideas about starting a business, Lauren enthusiastically exclaimed, “Go for it! Go as far as you can. There is no loss in trying, no matter what happens.”
By Carol Kicinski