Aliyyah Baylor is all smiles in the kitchen, where she says each one of her ovens and mixers hold a special place.
“This one is going to be miss old reliable,” Baylor, owner of Make My Cake NYC said, laughing about all the memories she has using one particular mixer for years.
Food is the Baylor family's business. Her grandmother Josephine Smith ran a catering business, Josephine's Catering, out of her Harlem apartment. Then Aliyyah's mother, Joann, ran a cake-baking business out of her home. Aliyyah followed their lead becoming the third generation with a business presence in Harlem. She's now in business with her Mom.
What You Need To Know
- The Baylor family has served the Harlem community and city as a whole for three generations
- Aliyyah Baylor says as a Black-owned business, she's experienced difficulty in the beginning of her career getting a bank loan
- Aliyyah and her mother Joann Baylor opened the bakery, Make My Cake NYC, 25 years ago and now have two locations
- Another bakery location is set to open on 125th Street in March
"My mom was my first boss,” Aliyyah said. “She was always behind me, pushing me.”
"To been able to express the feelings I had growing up baking with my mother and my daughter and sharing it with the public is really important,” said Joann, owner of Make My Cake NYC.
Aliyyah and her mother opened the bakery 25 years ago. They now have two locations at 139th Street and Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard in Harlem, and on Columbus Avenue on the Upper West Side.
But getting to where they are now wasn't easy. Aliyyah says Black-owned businesses can face special obstacles. One example was the difficulty in getting a loan to finance her first bakery.
”As an individual of color, as a young entrepreneur, I embarked on looking for financing at the age of 24, 25 when we started looking for a brick and mortar and didn't initially look at it as a road block for me being a woman, Black. You don't think like that because you are believing in your product,” Aliyyah said.
She eventually got that financing, but is now wrestling with a different challenge, the coronavirus.
Her shop in Harlem also known as the Ma Smith's Dessert Cafe has remained open through the pandemic thanks to customers ordering desserts while quarantining. Now, she and her mom plan to expand with a shop on 125th Street.
“The customers were still calling, they were still saying we were essential,” Aliyyah said.
Aliyyah said she is forever grateful to her mentors for helping her grow as an entrepreneur and she hopes to inspire and pay it forward to other business owners.
"My mom was that person who guided me. Today you need a boardroom to get you to that next step and I hope I play a role in some entrepreneur's life,” Aliyyah said.
"I work with three of my kids, so hats off to me,” Joann said, as the two of them started cracking up. Joann also works with her two sons, Dedan and Kevin, at the 139th Street location.