Blair Alderson, 14, and Suzie Stipp, 13, have infectious smiles and their bakery is helping put a smile on the faces of other children around the world.
The friends, who will enter ninth grade at Kankakee High School this fall, have been baking since they were little girls and started their own business to “have fun and help others.”
Bluzie’s Bakery, a combination of the two founders, business partners and friends names, is in their fourth year of operation.
Both learned how to bake from their parents – Blair, the daughter of Jeremy and Kari Alderson and Suzie, the daughter of Brian and Elizabeth Stipp.
“My mom always let me help her bake when I was little,” said Suzie. “As I got older, I started baking by myself because I really enjoy it.”
Blair added, “I helped my parents in the kitchen when I was little. Now we are doing it for ourselves.”
“The first year, we had a lemonade stand and sold cookies too. By the next summer, we turned it solely into a cookie stand,” said Suzy. “We just really like to bake.”
While the basics of the recipes were found in cookbooks and online, they add or change some of the ingredients to make it original.
Blair and Suzie bake for two to three hours the day before a sale. Their stand is setup from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the corner of S. Chicago Ave. and Park Place, Kankakee. Future sale dates include Saturday, July 6; Wednesday, July 17; and Saturdays, Aug. 3 and Aug. 10.
“This year, we are experimenting more and using new recipes,” said Suzie. One special ingredient is fresh eggs, laid by her family’s six chickens.
Bluzie’s Bakery products vary each sale between chocolate chip cookies, cupcakes, ginger cookies, brownies and crispy treats, just to name a few. Brownie cookies and dog treats are available each sale.
“The brownie cookies are our signature item,” said Blair. “I got a package of brownie cookies from a store and they were really good. So we found some recipes. Every time we get together, we would make them.”
Bluzie’s Bakery began offering dog treats based on customer demand.
“A lot of people stop just to buy the dog treats,” said Suzie. “We get customers with health issues or those who don’t want sweets. But they always stop for the dog treats.”
All of the Bluzie’s Bakery proceeds go toward Smile Train, an organization that raises funds to send doctors to third world countries to perform cleft lip and palate surgeries.
“My dad had a cleft lip when he as born. He was able to have surgery and the care he needed,” said Blair. “Smile Train has always been important to our family and dear to our hearts.”
Blair’s father even ran the Chicago marathon last year as a fundraiser for Smile Train.
In the past, Bluzie’s Bakery funded a cleft palate surgery for a boy in India and a girl from the Philippines. In both cases, their parents could not afford the surgery and did not have access to a hospital. Again this year, Bluzie’s Bakery’s goal is to not only raise the $250 for one child to undergo surgery, but to raise at least $350 for the cause.
“Over the past few years, we’ve really seen our business grow. We like the fact that we’re a part of something bigger than ourselves. We’re making a change. This is not about us. It’s about the kids we’re helping and the lives we’re changing,” said Blair.