As an NFTE student, New England alum Jennifer LaSala was bitten by the entrepreneurial bug, “I was all in the moment I stepped in class. I went home and read the entire NFTE textbook the first week of class. I always knew that I wanted to start a business.”
Jennifer started her business originally as a traditional style bakery in 2011 at the age of 17. Then, while recovering from a work-related accident, she experienced an overactive immune response that left her covered in hives and struggling to deal with possible food allergies. That’s when she decided to transition her operation into an allergy-friendly bakery.
Since 2015 all of her baked goods have been vegan, gluten-free, nut-free, peanut-free, and sesame-free—and nearly all her items also avoid soy and coconut, too. Jennifer credits her entrepreneurial mindset for helping her see the opportunity within her personal challenges to recreate her business.
“Participating in the NFTE program allowed me to see opportunities to either start a business or improve on a business.” Jennifer said, “Flexibility and adaptability are my strongest skills in the mindset. I have always loved challenges, having to make changes, and taking big risks. It is who I am as a person.” In shifting to become an allergy-free bakery, LaSala found her momentum and niche.
Now a successful entrepreneur, when asked what she would say as to inspire up and coming NFTE students who are building their entrepreneurial mindsets for future success, LaSala replied, “The biggest pieces of advice I have learned now that I am eight years into having this business is: don’t ever let a closed door stop you from what you love to do. Every single mistake is a learning experience and happens for a reason.”
The door is open and LaSala has created something sweet indeed with the popular vegan and allergy-friendly Jennifer Lee’s Gourmet Bakery, currently located at a stall in the prestigious Boston Public Market. The tempting treats Jennifer creates–usually off limits for allergy sufferers—attract loyal customers from across Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New York.
Seeing that her most devoted fans would travel long distances sparked an idea to create a second storefront in Worchester, MA. The new location means easier access for many of her customers outside of Boston. The new space also allows for possible expansion into allergy-friendly baking classes and special events. With the help of a recent crowdfunding campaign, Jennifer will soon be welcoming more customers to a new, larger location in central Massachusetts.
Keep up with Jennifer Lee’s Bakery on social media.