Running a vegan donut shop while being a full-time student is as ambitious and as busy as it sounds.
Kimberly Ng is a 19-year-old student doing a double-major in English and Continuing Education at Queen’s University. She takes on a full schedule load of six courses per term, which means she takes a whopping 12 courses within eight months. Kimberly created Kmelyshop back in September 2016 when she noticed a gap for vegan treats in the market of the Kingston community, where Queen’s is located.
“There aren’t a lot of vegan options in Kingston,” she says. “There was a gap in the market and I saw it as a project for me. I had some free time and I’d always wanted to start a business. I liked experimenting with baking as a challenge, so making things vegan was really cool for me. I also wanted to not use a lot of animals products because I know it’s not good for the environment. That really came into play for my shop.”
Kimberly created an Instagram account with the handle @kmelyshop for her business, and has reached nearly 1,000 followers within six months. She posts minimal, aesthetically-pleasing photos of her vegan baked goods. Occasionally she features a meal she eats, or a colour-coordinated flat lay she took. What kickstarted the rise in her following was when she posted a picture of a batch of donuts she was selling.
“In the beginning, I didn’t start off selling donuts…but I made one post about it and it took off!” She posted the photo to gage the interest of potential donut fiends, and they became a hit for Queen’s students and the Kingston community alike.
Now a typical week for Kimberly looks like this: on Wednesday, she reviews all her online orders, then makes an inventory of what ingredients she has. On Thursday, she goes to the store to buy any missing ingredients from her pantry. On Friday, she wakes up at 7:00 AM to bake, cool, and decorate her donuts. She then brings the donuts to her Friday class at 11:30 AM. At 1:00 PM, she heads to one of her campuses libraries to wait for customers to pick up their orders. Doing homework and chatting with her customers to fill the time, Kimberly waits until 6:30 PM – the cut-off mark for order pickups.
“During the holiday season, it’s really hectic. Like around Valentine’s Day and Christmas, I’d have to wake up at 5:00 AM to bake orders. I was doing lots of events and selling lots of donuts and you try to lump everyone into one delivery time. To run a business like mine, you have to be organized, and you have to attend lots of events to sell your product.”
As spring exam season approaches, Kimberly says she’s lost a lot of motivation to run her business while she simultaneously studies. “I’m at the stage where I have no motivation to make many donuts. Exams are coming up and it’s pretty stressful right now.”
Though she feels burnt out, Kimberly has big plans for her business. “My goal is to open up a cafe in Toronto. It’s a different concept, not revolving around donuts.”
Kimberly says the main concept of the cafe is to feature food trends around the world. “Like there were times when I though ‘oh, wouldn’t it be great if I could try that rainbow bagel from New York or that raindrop cake from Japan?’ So I want to bring all these trends to this one place and feature them for like two weeks, then move on to the next trend.”
For now though, Kimberly continues to write essays while selling and posting pictures of her vegan baked goods to the platform and customers she has built from the ground up.
Photo source: @kmelyng
Published by Eunice Lee