Photo: Used under Flickr Creative Commons license / Moriza
By Tami Nantz
WASHINGTON, January 30, 2014 — The day after President Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech, during which he repeatedly told the American people that an individual who works hard can achieve their dreams, local government officials in Madison County, Illinois shut down a little girl’s cupcake business after seeing her story in the Belleville News-Democrat.
Impressed with the determination and entrepreneurial spirit of 11-year-old Chloe Stirling, a local newspaper reporter decided to write a story that would make any parent smile. Chloe’s parents told her that they’d match whatever amount she manages to save before she turns 16, so she can buy a car. Taking them very seriously, Chloe got busy dog sitting and baking cupcakes, naming her businesses “No Bones About It” and “Hey, Cupcakes” respectively.
While Chloe’s mom was reluctant to tell the Belleville News-Democrat how much her daughter has saved, she indicated the girl has been working very hard. “…she’s a darn good saver,” said Heather Stirling. “I thought, ‘Uh oh, we may be in trouble.’”
The 11-year-old has been using her home kitchen in the afternoons when she gets home from school, usually baking the cupcakes one afternoon, and decorating them the next. Her dad, Chad Stirling, usually reaps the benefits. “When I make a mistake, I give it my dad,” said Chloe. Her family has been extremely supportive – her Great Aunt Jennifer is the one who ignited her love for baking by taking her to a class at Michaels, where she learned to bake Valentine’s Day cupcakes.
Because of the story released Sunday, Madison County officials were made aware of the Chloe’s business and called the family Monday to let them know they were shutting it down. For her to continue, she’ll need to either buy a bakery or build a separate kitchen. “Obviously, we can’t do that,” Heather Stirling told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “We’ve already given her a little refrigerator to keep her things in, and her grandparents bought her a stand mixer.”
Madison County Health Department official Amy Yeager told reporters her county is simply enforcing the laws for businesses that sell food. “The rules are the rules. It’s for the protection of the public health,” said Yeager. “The guidelines apply to everyone.”
What little Chloe is sure to learn through this experience is that when you work hard, you are sure to meet the resistance of those who wish to prevent you from succeeding. With a spirit like hers, I have absolutely no doubt that she and her family will find a way for the girl to continue pursuing her dreams. In fact, I’d bet good money she’ll get to meet the Cake Boss — New Jersey baker Buddy Valastro — a baker she admires, and that with all this attention, she’ll far surpass her dream of just saving enough money to buy a car.