By Michael Yu, Sept. 21, 2021
Jayla Littlejohn is a psychology major at CPP with a passion for the sweet which inspired her to start her own dessert business, “Littlejohn Treats,” with the goal of making desserts more affordable and accessible to the community.
Based in Pomona, Littlejohn uses her social media following to give back to the community by holding quarterly donations to various local institutions through her business.
“During my second year, on Valentine’s Day, I set up my shop in front of the African American Student Center and had a really good turnout,” shared Littlejohn. “After that, I set up a website and Instagram and officially launched my business with my Mother’s Day sale.”
Valentine’s Day is a significant holiday for Littlejohn because it helped her discover her passion for dessert making. In high school when the holiday would come around, she noticed that items like edible arrangements were not easily accessible for their age group. This gave Littlejohn the idea to create affordable treats anybody could buy to celebrate their loved ones.
After that day at CPP’s African American Student Center, Littlejohn’s Treats expanded into a custom chocolate treats business with a variety of sweets from chocolate covered strawberries to caramel apples.
Now with over 1,200 followers on Instagram and 308 fulfilled orders, Littlejohn’s business has skyrocketed past her expectations. However, Littlejohn expressed that this fast growth has its drawbacks as well.
“The amount of growth my business had was both a blessing and a curse. It was a curse because I had to upscale my inventory and do everything very quickly so I could keep my business open. It went from inventory that could fit in a small closet to needing over three 6-foot shelves to fit everything,” said Littlejohn.
When starting her business, Littlejohn struggled to juggle her schoolwork, her business and caring for herself.
At the time, I was working two different jobs on campus while also being a full-time student and running this business. It was extremely hectic and tough trying to find the balance for any kind of personal time,” shared Littlejohn. “I struggled to put myself first and give myself time to make sure that I am OK.”
Once Littlejohn learned to take care of herself and balance her business, she decided her next priority was to give back to the community.
“I recently finished the back-to-school donation where we collected over 30 backpacks and boxes of school supplies for the teachers,” Littlejohn said. “We then donated the supplies to three local schools. Being able to use my business and my platform to give back to my community is very important to me.”
Littlejohn’s love for sweets started at an early age. Growing up in Pomona and Diamond Bar, her passion for making treats started with her family.
“The passion for treat-making started in my mom’s kitchen with a fondue machine and some strawberries from the farmers market. My mom would put chocolate into the fondue machine and my family would dip the strawberries inside,” shared Littlejohn. “We would all have a great time, and this inspired me to create some of my own treats.”
Littlejohn shared that support from her family and community has pushed her to turn her “side hustle” into a legitimate business. Currently, Littlejohn manages her business through Instagram where clients can direct message her with their sweet ideas.
Littlejohn’s business sells a large variety of desserts from large breakable chocolate hearts to cheesecake stuffed strawberries. A popular item is the Halloween themed skeleton stuffed waffle cone, made with a crispy waffle cone, filled with creamy cheesecake and topped by graham cracker crumble and fresh strawberries.
When looking towards the future, Littlejohn has plans to improve her practice by owning a personal commercial kitchen but does not plan to have a walk-in store. Littlejohn wants to prioritize maintaining a personal connection with clients and the custom designs she creates.
Littlejohn reflects that she is thankful her business has reached a point where she can help the community around her.
“A lot of people from CPP shop with me and support me. It’s a really nice feeling to know that the campus community has played such an important role in helping my business grow and getting my name out there,” said Littlejohn.
To support Littlejohn’s business “Littlejohn Treats” visit her Instagram page.
Feature image courtesy of Jayla Littlejohn.
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