By Troy Donté Prestwood
The temperatures outside may be cooling off, but it’s quite the opposite inside the kitchen of 13-year old Madelynn Martin. With the home oven set to 350 degrees, you can even say it’s sweltering. That’s part of what her popular “Very Strawberry” recipe calls for: two large eggs, a stick and a half of butter, some baking flour, milk, fresh strawberries—and a hot oven.
The young CEO of Madelynn’s Bake Sale, who uses a dash of love as a signature ingredient, just received the “Youth Entrepreneur of the Year” from the National Community Reinvestment Coalition—her second straight—for demonstrating achievements, innovation and vision in support of the District’s small business community. But this latest award doesn’t seem to overwhelm the teenager who remains focused on developing new cupcake flavors and finalizing her website.
“Once we’re done with the site, I want people to see our new cartoons, all the places I’ve been, play fun online games, and place orders,” Martin said. “I consider myself an original so I’m always working on something new. Two years from now I see my business growing really,” she told the AFRO.
The Alice Deal Middle School honor roll student lives with her mom in the Congress Heights neighborhood of Southeast. She has a business resume that easily outshines CEOs three times her age. In 2016 at the age of nine, Martin started her cupcake business with money largely saved up from her allowance. She went on to win first place in several competitions including the D.C. State Fair, the Women’s Business Center, where she also received a business grant from the D.C. Department of Small and Local Business, and served on youth business panels for Google and the Montgomery County Children’s Business Fair.
Local television station WJLA-7 showcased Martin on its Inspire Report segment. Earlier this year she won “Best of DC 2019” from the Washington City Paper. Martin along with her mom, Tosha Terry, was honored by the nationally syndicated Café Mocha Radio show with a “Salute Her” family legacy award. Recently, Martin was once again awarded, “youth Entrepreneur of the Year” by the National Community Reinvestment Coalition.
“I see my role as ensuring she has a solid foundation for the future,” said Tosha Terry, who recently presented Martin with keys to her own condominium. “I tell Madelynn it’s more than baking cupcakes, it’s about running a successful business and carrying on our family’s legacy of leadership and ownership. I’m extremely proud of her accomplishments so far with more to come,” Terry said.
Terry credits her daughter’s third grade teacher at Hearst Elementary School for recognizing Martin’s love for numbers. Katy Monaghan, who now teaches fifth grade in Annapolis, said she knew on the first day of class Martin was special.
“I realized early on that she knew her math facts really well. She could do computations in her head that other students couldn’t do,” Monaghan said. “We did a lot of real-world class projects like operating a store. I remember telling her mom that Madelynn was really good at it and that we should continue with it.”
Monaghan said, hands down, Martin’s mom deserves the glory for her daughter’s success because she did all of the necessary “front-loading” with her.
“I was very fortunate to have a parent like Tosha in my class to help lead the way for others. She set the bar really high. When you have a parent who is willing to support their child’s dreams, the sky is the limit for this kid,” Monaghan said.
Terry told the AFRO parents often ask for advice on how to get their kids on a similar path as Martin. “Nurture it,” she said. “Every single person on earth has a gift. Our gifts need to be nurtured. Children display their talents easily – they express their dreams easily. Listen, watch, encourage and allow your child to find their flow,” Terry said.
Martin is confident she will need to expand her team, which for now consists of just her and her mom, to keep up with future orders. “The hardest part has been not having enough employees,” Martin said. “I’m going to need more bakers, cashiers and a person to run the store.”
Even with the level of business success amassed by the young CEO, it’s clear Martin is still a normal kid who loves traveling, swimming, and the occasional selfie with friends. She’s excited to be in the eighth grade but told the AFRO she has plans to attend Howard University for her MBA, and perhaps medical school.
For now, she offers these words of encouragement to others following in her footsteps: “Be brave and follow your dream. That’s the advice I would give to people all around the world.”
This article originally appeared in The Afro.