When Covid-19 led to the cancellations of the camps and concerts they had planned for last summer, incoming high school seniors Alice Huang, 16, and Sarah Zeng, 17, in Austin, Texas, turned to baking and video chatting with each other "like five hours a day."
They turned their passion for baking into a home-based cookie business, Dough Re Mi, which launched in May 2020.
Huang and Zeng release new flavors each month, such as oatmeal raisin, spiced carrot cake, and chocolate in August. They sell cookies online and at a biweekly farmer's market, and they also hand-deliver online orders to customers.
The business began to take off when the Austin-American Statesman published a story about Dough Re Mi in June 2020, two months after the business launched. That article brought in over 40 orders that week, Huang and Zeng say, and they were up until the early hours of the morning baking and packaging.
"My mom had to help me," Huang says. "My parents were like, 'Why did you do this to yourself?' And I was like, I mean, 'I didn't think we would go this far.'"
They decided to donate the majority of their proceeds to Covid relief, in part to stand out from the competition, especially since many home-based bakeries have opened during the pandemic.
"We didn't want to be, you know, just something really boring or just like a copy of another business," Zeng says. "And so we thought we would do something good for the community, since we knew that a lot of people were struggling in our community due to Covid. You know, being laid off from jobs and struggling to find resources to help them."
Huang and Zeng have since brought in more than $12,000 and donated more than $8,300 to All Together ATX.
At first, the best friends were hoping Dough Re Mi would perk up their college applications: They both planned on becoming health-care professionals after graduation.
Through running Dough Re Mi, though, Huang and Zeng discovered how much they love being entrepreneurs — as well as helping others in need. "Now that I started this business, I think that, you know, studying business in college, and like maybe doing something entrepreneurial in my future — it's not completely out of the question anymore," says Huang. "I never thought I really had the guts to do that. But now, I feel kind of encouraged."
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