Austin Teen’s Small Business Raises Funds for COVID-19 Relief

nutssosweet goes from Jennifer Fang's kitchen to your snack drawer

The past six months have seen the rise of many side hustles and small business ventures in response to COVID-19’s massive disruption of the traditional job market. Here in Austin, one 16-year-old girl has launched an entrepreneurial project for the purposes of helping those in our community who are most in need.

Jennifer Fang (Photo by Fan Yang)

Meet Jennifer Fang, a rising junior at St. Michael’s Catholic Academy, and the owner of small business nutssosweet. The home bakery operates out of her family’s personal kitchen, and sells organic granola, nut butters, milk bread, and air-fried donuts. Fang donates 80% of her proceeds to charities like Austin Disaster Relief Network and the NAACP.

The teenager thanks her friends, who in March were running a similar small-scale cookie business to raise money for COVID-19 relief, for inspiring her to start her own fundraising project. Fang never imagined it becoming this successful. “Initially, I was thinking for this to be a smaller community thing within my own network, and to be honest I was surprised.” She says from her family’s home in Austin. Fang has only been cooking for a year, as a hobby to relieve stress during her competitive high school schedule, but has been interested in entrepreneurialism since she was a child. A student-council member and founder of a charity dance team, she most recently participated in a business education summer program with the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. “Starting out as a local business really gave me a sense of what running a business is going to be like,” she said. “I definitely like the aspect of being able to connect with people on a personal level”.

Fang prides herself on using only organic natural sweeteners, catering to the foodie culture of Austin by producing nutrient-dense products that adhere to a variety of diets. Her website includes multiple keto, vegan, gluten-free, and paleo options. She also uses a unique Japanese milk-bread recipe for her baked goods. The young entrepreneur plans to continue running nutssosweet for at least the rest of her high school career - “I’d love to offer these in stores.”

Fang’s family moved to Austin three years ago from China, where her mother worked as the national sales director for Mary Kay, a childhood environment Fang credits for her early interest in business. While her family supports her project – her father drives with her to all of her deliveries, and “my mom and sister are just there for spiritual support” she laughs – for the most part Fang runs the entire operation on her own. She manages an extensive PR campaign, has a significant social media following, and has already raised over $1000 in donations. “It’s actually been a quite challenging experience for me,” she said when asked about the stress of starting a business on her own from scratch.

“My advice to people who are starting small businesses is that there are times when you really receive nothing, but just keep your head up, it’s going to come eventually.”

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