Baking is the perfect recipe for spreading joy — owning a small business should be too, said 9-year-old Ire Cherry, recalling the moment she stood before administrators at University Academy in Kansas City, holding a check wider than she is tall.
“My mom and her sister were talking about people in Virginia who couldn’t pay their lunch accounts,” Cherry, a budding entrepreneur who launched Very Cherry Bakery from her parents’ home last year, said of the moment she decided she could use her income to sprinkle a little kindness.
“She also witnessed that some kids couldn’t go on field trips because they had [an outstanding lunch] balance,” added Karien Cherry, Ire Cherry’s dad.
“She took it upon herself to say, ‘Hey, I can contribute to this. I can use some of the money that I made for my bakery to help pay off these accounts.’ … Then it went from there.”
Ire Cherry hand-delivered a larger-than-life $150 check — inspired by her love for such competition baking TV programs as “The Great British Baking Show” — to school officials in May, paying off negative balances on a handful of lunch accounts, explained Karien Cherry.
“We didn’t think anything would come from it. It was just a good idea, we thought, just to help out other kids … that’s what we teach her in the household,” he said of his daughter’s decision to give back to her peers.
Long drawn to the allure of candy-coated, binge-worthy baking shows, artistry and the thrill of competition first inspired Ire Cherry’s passion for baking, she said.
“It’s a lot of pressure,” the 9-year-old Kansas City girl said of “Cupcake Wars” — the Food Network reality show she most frequently daydreams of competing on. “I like all the different things they can make.”
It was no surprise to Cherry’s family when the interest manifested into something more, recalling the day she found a stray package of peppermint Oreos and quickly transformed them into a silky cheesecake, recalled Karien Cherry.
“I told her she can’t keep it in the house ‘cause I’ll be 300 pounds,” he laughed, pinpointing the moment his daughter decided she could start her own business.
Ire Cherry’s piggy bank is primarily filled by showings at bake sales and events along with a decent flow of catering work — a hands-on lesson in entrepreneurship, she noted, sharing her wish to see more business classes in the area’s public schools.
“To me, its a life course,” Karien Cherry added. “She gets so many skills from outside of school.”
A year into life as owner of Very Cherry Bakery, Ire Cherry has found new confidence, her father said in example of the ways he’s seen her grow.
“A lot of kids don’t look at adults in the eye or talk to adults. So, you know, having that confidence, building that confidence when she’s out there selling goods and talking to adults and you know her math skills [have improved], then it’s science. Like it’s the full STEM thing,” he said with pride.
“I just see it bettering her at this young age. ‘Cause I’ve always taught her, it doesn’t matter how old you are or what size you are, you can contribute to this world,” he added.
Watching his daughter fold her business sense into a love for the community she’s growing up in has been a valuable experience for Kieran Cherry, he added, highlighting an observed and newfound sense of fearlessness that now serves as his daughter’s motivation to someday land a spot on one of her favorite shows.