This 17-Year-Old PSEO Student Runs a Bakery in Her Spare Time (When She’s Not in Class)

Karissa Gilbert is one busy 17-year-old.

As a Crown PSEO (Post Secondary Education Option) student currently in her second year of college (she is a high school senior), Gilbert owns and operates a small business called Rissa’s Sweet Treats. She has processed over 250 orders and started the bakery when she was 12. We asked her to share how she manages her time…and still manages to excel in college.

1. When did you first start the business and what were your first orders?

I first started my business five years ago when I was 12 because family and friends were asking me to make baked goods for their birthdays. My first orders included making cake pops for friends’ birthday parties and a bridal shower.

2. Why did you decide to start Rissa’s Sweet Treats?

People were wanting me to bake things for their birthdays and I thought, “Why not make this a business?” Ultimately I have always loved baking as my great grandparents baked a lot when I was little, and I grew up baking with my mom. Then I started creating some of my own recipes for new things and have built my business from there.

3. What have you learned at Crown so far that you have applied to your business?

Being a Business Administration major (and going to do a double major in Marketing) at Crown College has definitely helped me progress in my business. I have learned some management techniques, accounting tricks, more about computer application programs–but also tips on how to hire in the future since I’ve learned about the human resources field. All the classes within Business Administration and Marketing have been relatable to my business and it makes the degree enjoyable to pursue.

4. How many customers do you have, and how many orders have you done?

It’s hard to say how many customers I have because I get orders almost every week. Within the last two years alone I have covered over 250 personalized orders, including multiple graduations, a couple of weddings, and many parties. Along with the personalized orders I also do end-of-year school cookie boxes for teachers and bus drivers, and many other things!

5. How do you balance the business, work, and classes? What have you learned about how to run a business while simultaneously attending Crown?

Balancing the business, classes, and work would seem difficult. If you eliminate procrastination, that balance can be easier to achieve. Time management is the biggest thing I have learned while at Crown. With keeping busy baking, working, and doing schoolwork, managing my time and knowing what I have to get done is extremely important. At times, there are things I have to turn down because of the busy schedule; however, when you prioritize tasks it can be easier to manage everything you want to get done.

6. What advice do you have for anyone hoping to start a business at a young age?

If you have something that you love to do or that you dream of doing, it never hurts to try. When I started baking, it was just something I liked to do and was a hobby. People that I knew started asking me more and more to bake items for them and that is when I started my business. Now I am able to do baking as not only something enjoyable to do but also as a way to spread joy through food and treats with my business.

I now have over 500 people on my Facebook page and it only keeps growing. Ultimately, if you have something that you like to do, keep doing it. Although it may just be a hobby now, it could be something that turns into more later. Everyone has a skill that they were gifted from God, and he puts us on the path to pursue that skill, to show and gift others with. We don’t always think that something will work out, as I never imagined I would be able to start my own business for baking. I was put on the path to pursue that, and I didn’t think twice about starting the business, I just did it. If you have a calling to do something, do it!

7. What are your plans for next year and after grad? Do you hope to turn Rissa’s into a full-time business? Why or why not?

After graduating high school, I will be attending Crown College to finish my bachelor’s in Business Administration and Marketing. However, after graduating with my degrees from college, I don’t know where it will lead me yet.

As for my business, I am not sure where that will lead, either. I have imagined that someday it will lead to a storefront and that I will be able to turn it into something bigger, only because I feel called to do a bakery and make people smile and be happy through baked goods and much more. But everything takes time, and that’s exactly where I am at.

I hope to continue building Rissa’s Sweet Treats as a baking business but also as a way to reach customers and offer products they love. The goal for now is to continue growing in my skills and make great tasting items for people to enjoy.

You may also be interested in: