Celebrating Local Black Heroes: Layla Wallace

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Michigan is proud to celebrate Local Black Heroes in honor of Black History Month. Join us on social media and our website throughout February to learn more about the impact of local heroes in your community.

Layla Wallace is a 10th grader at Portage Central High School with her own cupcake shop, Layla’s Cool Pops. She has a national following and was recently on an episode of the Kelly Clarkson Show.

Layla’s Cool Pops serves cupcakes, cookie pops, and pretzel sticks, and also has gift baskets, t-shirts, travel mugs and other merchandise. Each of her sweet treats are homemade with love and have fun toppings like sprinkles and amazing frostings. Find Layla’s Cool Pops in Kalamazoo’s Washington Square neighborhood at 1336 Portage Street.

Inspiration

In fourth grade, Layla had to design an item to sell for a school project. She made Oreo cookie pops with sprinkles and they were a huge hit. With her supportive parents, Layla was able to turn her elementary school project into her own business.

She shares, “My parents inspired me to do great things, taught me to push through struggles, and work hard. But one of my main inspirations isn’t a real person – it’s Princess Tiana from the Princess and the Frog. Princess Tiana started her own bakery, and I knew I wanted to be just like her. She’s powerful, works hard, and never gives up.”

A Balancing Act

As a Black business owner, Layla supports other young girls’ dreams and offers advice, tips, and even internships at her shop. She is also a part of Jack and Jill, an organization dedicated to nurturing future African American leaders by strengthening children through leadership development, volunteer service, philanthropic giving, and civic duty.

Layla is also a busy high school student. She’s involved in activities like Merze Tate Explorers, Girl Scouts, volleyball, track, and is a part of JEDI Club at school (Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion). “I want to make sure school is welcoming for everyone!  We have deep conversations about issues and how to help people feel welcome and accepted.”

Layla balances a lot for a high school student but reports that with the support of her family, friends, and faith in the Lord she manages any stressful situations that arise.

She also has a message for other teens:  “If you have a goal, don’t give up. As long as you believe in yourself it will get done.”

Giving Back

Layla’s Cool Pops is all about giving back to the community. “I’ve been gifted with so much, and not everyone gets the opportunities I’ve had in life. I feel blessed and want to bless someone else. I’ve always liked helping others.”

Layla’s Cool Pops has given 10% of their sales to local nonprofits such as Kalamazoo Loaves and Fishes and Kalamazoo Gospel Ministries. Currently, her mission is to give back to the homeless community and is doing a “Socks with Love” drive. For every 4 pack of cupcakes you buy, $1 will go towards purchasing a pair of new socks for people who are experiencing homelessness. The shop also accepts drop off cash donations or sock donations.

A Michigan Destination

After high school, Layla would like to continue her education and athletic career. She’d like to get an athletic scholarship to college and pursue a business or culinary degree.

As far as her business goes, Layla hopes to make Layla’s Cool Pops a top Michigan destination for cupcakes expanding statewide and hopefully even nationally one day.

You can support this incredible teen by taking your sweet tooth Layla’s Cool Pops. Layla recommends her favorite: “Dad’s Favorite.” It’s a chocolate cupcake with milk chocolate frosting, and Reese’s Cups inside and on top. Learn more, or plan your next curbside pickup here.

Find Local Black Heroes throughout the month of February on social media and on our website. Visit ThinkBigToday.org/Volunteer for more information about how you can ignite the power and potential of youth in Southwest Michigan.

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