For many, just the thought of eating a doughnut can elicit excitement, as well as a little guilt over diet plans being ruined. Enter Kleo Redd, who’s hoping her vegan and gluten-free variations of these treats impress not only as healthier and more animal-conscious alternatives but also, and perhaps most importantly, with their taste.
Redd is only 12 years old, yet she’s already achieved success as a mainstay at the Nevada City farmer’s market. Each Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., she can be found at the Kleo’s Doughnuts stand, selling the pastries she crafted the previous day. She says she spends six to eight hours baking, not frying, her doughnuts. Customer favorites include strawberry, s’more, maple, cinnamon sugar, vanilla and triple chocolate.
“We make about 125 (doughnuts) and we pretty much sell out,” said Andrea Hope, Redd’s mother.
Redd, a committed vegan, came up with the idea for the business while reading through a cookbook.
“I found a recipe that I created a variation of in one of my favorite vegan cookbooks, (BabyCakes Covers the Classics: Gluten-Free Vegan Recipes from Doughnuts to Snickerdoodles). It kind of became my thing, and so everyone was like ‘You should make a business, you should sell these,’” Redd explained. “I’ve been vegan my whole entire life and it’s been my way of living. I think that’s important, because the way factory farms are now is awful and so it made sense to be vegan. [Vegan and gluten-free] kind of go hand in hand because they’re thought of together, so I thought that would work best and it really appealed to a certain crowd that’s at the farmer’s market and in this town in general.” While doughnut makers don’t typically cater to the vegan community, that doesn’t mean that taste has to be sacrificed. According to Redd, it’s the opposite. Many have told her that her creations are actually better than their fried counterparts.
The business hasn’t been all smooth sailing, though. For one, there were numerous obstacles to overcome in simply starting it up.
“I think, so far, the hardest part ... was all the paperwork. There were hoops, you know. Just getting licenses and paying fees and getting all the paperwork filled out,” said Hope, who offered to do most of the start-up legwork for her daughter. “I didn’t want her joy to be squished at the beginning by bureaucracy. It was like, ‘I’ll get you to the point where the joy begins.’”
There’s also the issue of time invested, as Redd has to balance her work with other activities she enjoys.
“I have two constant days, and then the rest of the week I’m busy,” she said. “Right now, I’m working at a junior lifeguard camp and then I have swim team. The one day I have off from that stuff, I do doughnuts. So it’s pretty hard.”
In order to help fund some of the necessary expenditures and alleviate some of the stress, Redd decided to post a fundraiser on Kickstarter, a website that allows users to contribute money to a project to help it get off the ground. She created the webpage a month ago, asking for $3,300 and offering free doughnuts for those who pledged $25 or more. Though a reasonable goal, she was worried she wouldn’t make that mark.
“We saw someone, just to prove a point, ask for $10 to make potato salad (on Kickstarter) and got $22,000. So we thought it wouldn’t be hard at all to make $3,300,” laughed Redd. “But it was really hard. We had to post up a lot of (advertisements) and we had to keep that going, which was pretty difficult. I thought we weren’t even going to make it.”
Not only did they make the goal at the deadline, but they surpassed it, raising more than $3,500.
“It was nice to see the whole community supporting her. (I have) a lot of gratitude,” Hope said. “The fact that people in their busy lives not only paid $25 or pledged $50 but then continuously put it up on their own Facebook pages and checked in with us. So many people were excited when she made it, it was really nice. I think we’re both learning a huge lesson in what a beautiful amazing (community) this is.”
With the money, Redd hopes to expand her business to local retail. She cites the ability to work on the days she wants and being able to focus on baking the doughnuts that sell well instead of a creating a wide variety as ways this will actually help make the business an easier balancing act.
“When you sell at retail, you can choose your day. I’m doing every Friday right now, which makes it hard for me. Especially when school starts,” she said.
“It’s through November at the farmer’s market. From there, she gets to decide. We get to sit down and say, ‘Here are the options, do you want to do farmer’s markets, do you want to do retail?’ We have the funds; we’re going to be able to invest in both. Whatever works best for her and her schedule, she can build it now that she’s got the support,” her mother added.
For now, Redd knows for certain what she hopes to accomplish with Kleo’s Doughnuts.
“I’m going to use (the business) to pay for college for me and my little brother, who’s 9,” she said. “I’m also going to donate some of it to my favorite non-profit organization, which is Farm Sanctuary. They rescue factory farm animals and animals from other really bad situations and give them really nice homes. I love volunteering there because it’s a lot of fun.”
“It’s a challenge when (she) wants to swim, and there’s homework and life and family,” Hope said. “The most impressive part is being able to balance all of that and still stay positive, and to make a choice and stick to it is something a lot of grown-ups have trouble with. So in that way, I’m incredibly impressed. But I’m not surprised. She’s always been super-clear and motivated and confident on a level that made me feel really secure in her decisions.”
For more information, go to https://www.facebook.com/kleosdoughnuts.
Spencer Kellar is an intern with The Union, He can be reached at NCPCINternC@theunion.ocom.