Looking for an excuse to eat more cupcakes? Krissa Hillman, 11-year-old Maryland native, has a good one.
Hailing from Bollman Bridge elementary school in Jessup, the fifth-grader is the creative genius behind Cupcakes for Literacy. It’s a business that was created to sell baked goods in order to benefit reading programs, libraries and local schools.
“Literacy is a big part of life. You have to read everything,” Hillman said. “So what better way to help people understand than though something everyone likes?”
Hillman’s wonderful idea provided her a spot as a finalist in Warren Buffett’s Secret Millionaires Club “Grow Your Own Business Challenge.” This is a national competition looking to help young entrepreneurs cultivate smart habits financially. It also wants them to come up with unique and fresh new business concepts. About 4000 contestants between the ages of 7 to 16 entered into the competition this year.
Helen is going to fly to Omaha, Nebraska, this weekend with four more individual finalists, as well as three teams. They are going to personally present their business ideas to Warren Buffett himself. The winner of the competition will receive $5000. This is a business dream come true for Hillman.
“Everything about this has been exciting. I get to actually meet Warren Buffett,” she said. “It all sounds like something only someone high up in the business world would get to do.”
Last fall, when Ms. Hillman saw a cupcake recipe book that she wanted to buy at a book sale at school, helped inspire the idea for Cupcakes for Literacy. It was an expensive book, so her mother told her that she’d only buy it if she promised to put the book to good use. Hillman enjoys reading just as much a she really enjoys baking, so she came up with ways that she could combine both of these loves. Everything started to fall into place from there
“Six years ago I made a website called Storytime with Krissa to upload videos of her reading aloud,” said Hillman’s mother Sabrina Wilson. “When she got the cupcake book, we decided to put a new spin on it.”
Hillman wants her website storytimewithkrissa.com to run in conjunction with Cupcakes for Literacy. The website will be a place where people can listen to stories and also pursue other opportunities for literacy. Her friends are even involved in the project, and they have formed a Board of Directors consisting of students.
The business venture has been very successful so far. She had a bake sale during a parent-teacher conference and was able to raise $258 during the six hours that it took. The money was given to the school’s library.
“It was neat to see an idea that sparked from a book turn into something that was able to give back to the school,” said Bollman Bridge’s media specialist Sandy Sneeringer. “The money she raised is going towards purchasing more books that our students like to read.”
Hillman’s great success is all due to her business practices, according to her mother.
“Krissa has learned to go where the people are, sell the best products and treat the customer’s great. That’s exactly what she’s doing with this,” Wilson said.
Hillman is putting together another bake sale that will take place over the summer, but at this time she is focused on her presentation to Warren Buffett.
“I have a script I’m going over,” said Hillman. “Part of the competition is an exhibit where we can explore each other’s business ideas, so I’m also practicing communication and how to shake hands.”
If Hillman does win the grand prize and earns the $5000, she is going to put the money toward purchasing business licenses. That way she’ll be able to operate Cupcakes for Literacy on a much broader scale. It’s her goal to eventually partner with grocery stores and farmers markets so she can bring her cupcakes to a much wider audience.
Even though it’s tough to run a business, Hillman says that it’s simple for someone her age as long a she’s doing something that she loves, just like baking cupcakes.
“You just have to be really into whatever you’re doing,” she said. “Find programs to get involved with and talk to other people with businesses to get help. Just try it out and see what happens!”