Pictures: Chocolate Cupcakes with creamy chocolate frosting, topped with Hershey Kisses (header). Strawberry Cupcakes, Entrepreneur Malila Smiley, Strawberry Cheesecake
Cupcakes, cake pops, and cheesecakes
Written by William Bryant Rozier
13-year-old Lane Middle Schooler Malila Smiley’s dream in the 5th grade was to be a cupcake maker and that’s what she is; she was inspired to act by a YouTuber. Her dad pushed her to just do it right then (in 2016) to get a head start in the business world; inevitably, she would be doing some profession that required those skillsets.
Smiley’s business, Dreamie Pastries was started with a box of cake mix and with recipes she pulled from a recipe book gifted one year for Christmas. “I found it was more fun as I started to do it,” she said.
She cooks everything at home by herself and sells them on her Facebook page @ Dreamie Pastries; she usually gets orders every two to three weeks and will post deals on the regular. Her menu is a long pillar of combinations. There’s chocolate but there’s also chocolate sour cream and chocolate orange. There’s a chai latte and orange soda (no peach soda though), and Pepsi and Root beer (no Coke either). “I only picked stuff I like or what I think other people like,” Smiley said.
On paper, you wouldn’t think these amalgams would work together. “She has a creative mind, an artist at heart,” said her mom, Aisha Smiley. Her daughter has won awards for her ability to mix colors together “and that does carry over into her baking.” Mom would know. Smiley’s first line of critical reception is her family. The closest people to an entrepreneur can be the hardest critics because they’ve seen all your hiccups. Once you get past your family’s goal-line defense (and they loved the cupcakes), the rest is less arduous. Smiley’s first customer outside her father, a teacher co-worker of her father’s, helped spread the great word about the cupcakes.
All of her friends “do sports,” Smiley, said so she’s the lone wolf. But she’s not on an island. She hangs with them enough to feel included and a part of the human experience. I asked her if she experiences the loneliness of the oddball, and she said no before I had a chance to cap my sentence with a period.
Almost all of Smiley’s marketing comes by word-of-mouth. Smiley at age 13 can’t be out there too much because there are obvious concerns about safety. Dreamie Pastries’ delivery option means Smiley will meet a customer at a public place like Starbucks and a lot of her corporate clients (public institutions) include churches and small organizations wanting something sweet and accessibly creative for a party or meeting.
Smiley used to do most of her business during breaks from school but business has been escalating to the point that she’s baking during the school year, when it doesn’t interfere with her book learning. Long term, she wants to get into interior designer and pharmacy, and it’s easy to see how the idea to work those professions can come from cake baking: “designing” medication or a living room. Both need the ability to coalesce disparate “ingredients” into a uniformed idea. And Smiley can say she’s been in the game since the 5th grade.
Her immediate goals are to grow her pastry business so big and so frequent that by the time she can driver herself to her deliveries, she’ll be doing Dreamie Pastries as her part-time high school job. She’ll be baking, reading about baking, trying new combinations until that happens. She’s naturally curious. “I’m a natural learner for a lot of things,” Smiley said. I believe her.
Facebook: Dreamie Pastries