When Shea Gouldd leaves to start college, she’ll say goodbye to her friends, her mom and the baking business she started nearly four years ago.
She’ll still handle administrative duties for Shea’s Bakery, but the 18-year-old has a full-time cook taking her place in the kitchen of the business that’s earned her accolades and attention.
Gouldd’s latest is being deemed Young Entrepreneur of the Year by the National Federation of Independent Business. The award included a $10,000 scholarship to her chosen school, Washington University in St. Louis.
The award joins her past honors including an entrepreneurship award from the National Association of Women Business Owners and a $1,000 scholarship from Girls Going Places. The university’s dean’s scholarship will pay for her tuition, she said.
She won the federation award out of a pool of more than 500 high school seniors who own or operate businesses.
She was honored at an award ceremony Thursday in Washington, D.C., where she said she was excited to meet Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., and Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach.
The scholarship is to show there’s no age limit to starting a business, said the Nashville-based federation’s Florida executive director, Bill Herrle. He said other teenagers could benefit from adopting the Spanish River Community High School graduate’s enterprising spirit.
“We want to highlight to the young people that entrepreneurship is a great thing to pursue,” he said.
Shea’s Bakery began when word about then-eighth-grader Gouldd’s passion and prowess for baking spread beyond family and friends. Launched in her Boynton Beach home, the bakery moved to bigger quarters in Delray Beach to produce made-to-order cakes, brownies and cookies. Sales have doubled every year since Grouldd started in 2008, she said.
Reinvesting in the business helped Gouldd buy more and better baking equipment, said her mom, Lesley Marlo.
Marlo, a 42-year-old copy editor, helped at first with permitting and licensing, administrative duties and even goods delivery in her SUV. She said she still helps coordinate big projects and market the bakery.
“I just feel so lucky and blessed and fortunate,” Marlo said. “I couldn’t be more proud of her.”
Gouldd said her calm personality helped her overcome the large responsibility and time management issues she struggled with when she started. Balancing baking with schoolwork cost her Friday football games and playing in the marching band, but she stuck with cooking, even when her mom offered her exits from the business.
She donates 10 percent of her profits to charities including Share Our Strength for hungry kids and the Wounded Warrior Project for military veterans. In July, Gouldd and friends helped clean the yard of a Delray Beach woman who lost her daughters and ex-husband in a landslide in Canada.
She also mentors business-interested young adults. Motivating others is her proudest achievement.
“To see that I’ve even sparked a thought is its own reward,” she said. “It’s more than I can ever ask for.”
She leaves in about a week to register for classes, but hopes her business continues to grow. And she’s open to possibly starting another bakery in St. Louis.
“I have had an experience many people my age haven’t,” she said. “I have no intent of slowing down. I’ll just see what opportunities come next.”