On one particular morning, 12-year-old Jaden Corrales sets his alarm for 4 a.m.
He wakes up, ties an apron around his waist and begins gathering ingredients for an order of his specialty, freshly made doughnuts so they can be delivered by 7 a.m.
Jaden is the owner of a two-month-old business, Dab Donuts, which he runs out of the kitchen in his Lynchburg home.
Jaden doesn’t remember a time he hasn’t loved to bake. He is working to save up enough money to purchase a $16,000 food truck by the time he is 16.
Even at 2 years old, Liz Corrales remembers her son mixing and playing with his food.
“I love baking. I’ve always loved it for as long as I can remember,” Jaden said.
His favorite part of baking is watching the looks on the faces of those who sample his creations.
The business was birthed from a set of online videos Liz Corrales had Jaden watch. The videos were part of a personal development program for children called Apex For Kids.
“At first, he thought it was silly and wasn’t into it but he got sucked into them quickly,” Liz Corrales said.
One of the videos has children come up with a goal and set a timeframe to have it completed by.
Jaden, who is home schooled, told his mom he wanted to have his own food truck by the time he is 16. How will he accomplish that? By selling his own doughnuts for the next four years.
His recipe has been perfected by trial and error, he said. Some batches have come out where the dough still sticks to his fingers so he’s learned to add more flour.
The entire process from start to finish takes a whopping three hours. Liz Corrales helps Jaden stay on track, but she said it’s entirely his process.
Once the dough is mixed together, Jaden puts it in a bowl covered by plastic wrap and puts it in the oven along with a pot of boiling water.
He said this is a hack for a proofing baker — basically a warming chamber to encourage fermentation of the dough to make it rise.
He uses what he said is a special rolling pin to make sure the dough is rolled out to a certain level of thickness and uses a cutter to create the circular fluffy doughnut shape.
He again wraps them in plastic wrap and sets them back in the oven with a boiling pot of water and lets it sit for another 30 minutes before frying.
The doughnuts sell for $13 per dozen, $7 for half a dozen and $1.25 per doughnut. Flavors include lemon, chocolate, pumpkin spice, maple syrup and plain. He also makes a gluten-free option.
He has a Facebook account where he takes online orders and will deliver daily between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. He doesn’t have to have a business license or health inspection because he bakes in his home and hand delivers.
Jaden’s parents helped him by purchasing the first set of ingredients but after that, he was on his own financially.
Once he had enough money saved up, he purchased a used KitchenAid mixer for $100 as well as a small doughnut fryer.
It’s important to Corrales her children learn to make mistakes and not to get stuck on that one mistake and give up to.
“It’s really important to develop grit,” Corrales said. “He may not do this for the rest of his life. It may not be his thing and I’ve told him, it’s OK if you walk away from this, if this isn’t it. It’s OK, you’re going to learn from this process.”
She said he is learning math, profit and expenses as well a just good work ethic.
When Jaden was about 8 years old, he had a trash business in his neighborhood where he would take his neighbors’ trash out for $1. He saved up about $250 and bought an Xbox.
“Very little things will be given to you when you’re up and out of the house,” Jaden said. “That’s not going to be the reality. It’s better to be prepared for it before you have to go out and pay your bills. It’s better to have a life plan.”
Corrales said she and her husband, Armando, have taught their children these lessons because they want them to one day be able to manage their money but to also find something they love to do and figure out how to make a business of it.
“I love to encourage them in that way,” she said. “And if that’s not for them, that’s fine too. We encourage them to do whatever they want. I am 100% behind him working this out and figuring out the kinks.”
Tarsha Joyner, aka Mrs. Joy of Mrs. Joy’s Absolutely Fabulous Treats in downtown Lynchburg, welcomed Jaden into her shop at 1008 Commerce St. about three weeks ago to help him further perfect his doughnuts and teach him some tips and tricks.
“What I don’t see in a lot of youth is initiative and excitement to do work and that boy was excited to do work,” she said. “He doesn’t just want to bake, he wants to be an entrepreneur already and he’s only 12.”
Joyner said Jaden’s big, bold, extroverted personality will serve him well in business and believes he has the potential to be on the Food Network channel next year.
“I saw a picture of his doughnuts and they look amazing,” she said. “I feel like a lot of people would say, ‘Why would you help someone who could take away from your business?’ But there’s enough business for everyone. He’s so young and has so much potential. By the time he gets his food truck, he will be light-years ahead of everyone else.”
Rachael Smith covers local businesses and nonprofits. Reach her at (434) 385-5482.