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Rising Stars: Meet Zakiyah Johnson

Today we’d like to introduce you to Zakiyah Johnson. 

Hi Zakiyah, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
A little bit about myself, I am a 21-year-old full-time business owner of Za’s Delights. I am also a full-time employee as a Veterinarian Assistant. I am one of few in my family to receive my High School diploma with a 3.0 GPA. I was about 6 years old when I realized how much I loved to bake. My mother and I would bake a cake just about every 2 weeks. She taught me how to properly combine ingredients all the way up to decorating our masterpieces. As I grew up things started to change for me. I lost contact with my biological mother, and my love for baking went dormant for a while. I had trouble knowing what I wanted in life and lost my connection and joy to my hobbies. This lasted for a few years as I didn’t know what I would become or grow up to do. 

About 5 years ago I found my way back to my family. I realized that life was too short to not have good times and enjoy as much of it as you can. At that moment I decided that I needed to figure out what I love to do most. What were the things that made me full of joy and bursting with laughter more than anything. And that was having those wonderful moments with my family, baking till our hearts were content, throwing flour on each other’s faces. All of those wonderful memories helped me in making my decision on who I have become today. 

My sophomore year of high school is when I tried making cake pops for the very first time. They weren’t perfect, but man did I have a tone of fun! I started making them for friends at school and my family. Quite a few people told me I should think about selling them, but I never thought that much of it then. By the time I made it to my senior year of high school, people started asking me if I could make them some for family occasion and celebrations. I was definitely overwhelmed in the beginning because I’ve never expected anything like it before. But the emotions and excitement people shared from enjoying my cake pops made me feel what I’ve been missing for so long. It brought back the memories from my childhood. I wanted to carry those memories as far as I could and decide that I would put a little of those memories and love into my baking. This is where I came up with my slogan, “Bringing Love and Joy In Every Bite!” When customers get to try our delicious cake pops for themselves, they tell me that they definitely can feel the love and care put into every individual cake pop. 

I officially decided to create my very own business on January 15, 2021. My family and I spent a whole month branding, creating the personalized logo and name for the company. We soon came up with “Za’s Delights”! My father actually calls me Zah, short for Zakiyah. So, we wanted to add in this special touch and I honestly love it. It reminds me of him every single time it’s spoken. 

Now, I have had some interesting feedback from some customers who prefer not to eat cake but love Za’s Delights cake pops which is such a huge compliment. My cake pops are always created fresh after cooling from the oven, and moist from being baked to perfection. 

My business quickly went from family and friends as customers to people from the community I live in. My sales doubled once I started setting up a booth at local events like First Fridays in Downtown Columbia every month. That is when I met more people interested in what I was offering. I started having regular customers returning every month and people asking for more. So, I went on a search for more events and opportunities I could participate in to be available to my customers. I recently started attending a Farmers Market every weekend in Spring Hill, TN called Hidden Gems Farmers Market. I now have my regular customers from First Fridays coming to visit me at the Farmers Market as well! I was blown away to see how many people really loved our cake pops to come and see us in another location. I now have a list of regular customers that order from us on a monthly basis and the list of customers has been growing ever since! 

I am currently operating as an at home business, but my next goal is to own a location for a bakery. I want to be able to invite and serve all of my customers with open arms in a comfortable and loving environment. This way they can relax and enjoy all of what Za’s Delights can offer. 

We actually have a few thing on our menu: cake pops, chocolate-covered pretzels, chocolate-covered pretzels with caramel, chocolate-covered strawberries, dirt cake, and trail mix. We also are working on adding cakes to the menu. We do local delivery and offer shipping, when weather allows us to that is. I would love to get to know more customers and share our many delights! 

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not, what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
There was one major struggle when I first started the business, and that was time. I was working at Chick-fil-A full time, managing the business full time, and going to college full time for my Veterinarian Technician License. This makes the list of the hardest things I’ve had to overcome. It was definitely draining me physically and mentally and causing stress. I finally sat myself down and analyzed everything that was before me. I dropped out of my 2nd semester of college. I quit my job at Chick-fil-A and now have a job as a Veterinarian Assistant. And of course, I am putting majority of my time and efforts into the business. 

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
I am a Veterinarian Assistant at the moment. I am a business owner of Za’s Delights. I am known for my cake pops and persistent hard-working ethics and willingness to constantly get better. 

What makes you happy?
Having a family that supports me makes me happy because if I didn’t, I would not be where I am now. I absolutely love that I do and wouldn’t give it up for the world. And to know that I can make other people happy just by doing what makes me happy, that’s a steal and in my opinion. 

Pricing:

  • Gourmet Cake Pops: $2.50 each. Starts off 20 count
  • Original Gourmet Chocolate Covered pretzels: $2 each. W/ caramel, $3. Starts off 20 count.
  • Gourmet Chocolate Covered Strawberries: $20 for a dozen. Starts off 12 count
  • Gourmet Oreo Dirt Cake: $25 each
  • And much more!

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Khalil Deon
Blackiston-Mostiller

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