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Community Highlights: Meet Kaylynn Martin of Kakes the Great Popcorn

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kaylynn Martin. 

Hi Kaylynn, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start, maybe you can share some of your backstories with our readers.
In 2019 I was told I needed braces. My mom began saving for them because braces are expensive! Especially when you have other dental work that needs to be done. I decided I would try and help her out. I began making kettle corn and asked family and friends if they would like to buy my treats, and they loved them so much I sold out every time. Kakes the Great Popcorn Co. became real in January 2021 when my mom formed my company legally and created our website as a birthday present to me and my brother. After which, we hosted our very own pop-up at my mom’s spa. It was a huge success. From there, I have gone on to win a pitch competition, received achievement awards, featured in news articles, Scholastic Reader, Sesi teen magazine, and met the mayor of Saginaw, state reps, and our governor Gretchen Whitmore twice. I have even had billboards and produced a commercial for Kakes the Great Popcorn (featured on my website)! It’s been a busy year. 

Kakes, as I am called, is the head chef and flavor innovator. Kris, my twin is also a partial owner and is considered “the muscle.” He aids in all the heavy lifting and sales. Alesha and Kim, my mom and cousin, are the “everything else.” They manage social media, the website, most of the admin stuff, set up all the shows, pop-ups, and collaborations (yawn…all the boring stuff…jk lol). Finally, I am mentored by two phenomenal local businesswomen Cierra Warren and Ce’Erica Allen on becoming a young business professional. 

Moving forward, we have expanded our goals and look to offer our products in the wholesale space of small markets and specialty shops. I love to collaborate with other teen business owners and participate in non-profit events. 

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back, would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
No way! My first challenge when I first started actually learning to make kettle corn using a kettle and from scratch. It definitely was a learning process in the beginning. When we decided to offer it for sell, we had to figure out proper packaging, shelf life, testing different flavors, Etc. I also had to learn about marketing and to reinvest to allow for my business to grow. My next biggest challenge was to prove to adults that I deserve to be here too. I’m not going to lie; it was very hard for me to open up and talk about my business because I am really shy. I took a big leap and decided to do a pitch competition to get the Kakes the Great Popcorn Co name out there. Learning to speak up about my business took time and lots of coaching. I was extremely nervous, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me from pitching my dream. I was proud about my vision for my company. I competed with all adults who had established companies. I not only won my first pitch competition, I also won crowd favorite. Lastly, learning that losing is a part of winning. I have participated in events with great turnouts and events that no one showed up to. It takes a lot to keep your chin up and keep doing it when you get discouraged. 

We’ve been impressed with Kakes the Great Popcorn Co, but for folks who might not be as familiar, what can you share with them about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
We are a small family-based business that specializes in custom treats. Our focus is delivering a unique take on the sweet and salty versatility of homemade kettle corn and expand our product menu by offering our customers the best treats and taste explorations we can create. Kakes the Great Popcorn Co is a Saginaw-based company founded and headed by 16-year-old phenom Kaylynn Martin. 

Kakes the Great Popcorn Co created a buzz about town with our thriving gourmet kettle corn as we offer a large variety of top-quality, delectable treats and flavor combinations such as “Black Girl Magic” and “Myrtle Turtle” that keep our customers coming back for more. Myrtle Turtle is a blend of tangy, sweet, and salty with just bit of a nut! Adding to this decadent flavor burst of kettle corn is cranberries candied pecans and topped in a white and milk chocolate drizzle. The Black Girl Magic blend is the perfect mix of everything sweet, salty, and nutty. Get double chocolate from this toffee and pecan-packed kettle corn treat. It wouldn’t be magic without our gold sparkle finish. Each flavor has been created and crafted in the Kakes Kitchen using premium ingredients, locally sourced products, and guaranteeing freshness with every bag. We offer 7 of our top-selling flavors on our website kakesthegreat.com along with our gift boxes and specialty flavors that are limited by season. 

Our values are simple, and this is what we are most proud of; we create our product with love and integrity, keeping the customer first. We seek to innovate the market with fun collaborations and partnerships amongst teen entrepreneurs. We endeavor to collectively inspire creativity within our community, specifically by promoting teen entrepreneurship with collaboration over competition. We partnered with fellow teen entrepreneur Jasmin Robbins, owner and creative of Sweet Lips by Jazz. We created a gift box for teens, tweens, and in-betweens called #JazzyKakes. Each box comes with an XL bag of a Kakes the Great Popcorn in special flavor, 2 full-size specialty flavored lip-glosses from Sweet Lips by Jazz. Plus, 4-6 additional items and accessories such as beauty items, stickers, candy, inspirational quotes, totes, etc. Each box retails for $33.95 and is shipped directly to our customers. 

Kakes the Great Popcorn finds it very important to give back and support the community. Kakes has participated in backpack giveaways, teen empowerment sessions and donated 1000s of bags of our Kettle Corn. We are proud Saginawians wish to impact the community with positivity and tangible support. 

Kakes the Great Popcorn is available throughout the year online at www.kakesthegreat.com, seasonally during spring and fall at various local craft shows, pop-up shops, and through our awesome partnerships with luxxB.R.W, Delicious Sweets Bakeshop, and Katy’s Kards. We also specialize in custom orders for special occasions such as graduations, showers, birthdays, and more. 

If we knew you growing up, how would we have described you?
Growing up being the only girl with 3 brothers was not easy! My brothers were always very protective and wanted me to be tough: however, my mom always had my back and encouraged me to be my own individual. I grew up here in Saginaw and for a short time lived and went to school in Baltimore, MD. I love to have fun, laugh, and do things for my brothers. I also help my mom’s a lot. I am pretty typical when it comes to figuring out what interest me… EVERYTHING lol. To me nothing is impossible! I have done everything from being the only girl on a flag football team to learning to play the violin and now being a teen entrepreneur. I would say I am a pretty normal teen. I like hanging out with my twin brother and making TikToks. Outside of owning and running my company, I also work for my 2 moms at luxxB.R.W Skincare and Massage Studio, and I am a 10th grader at Mackinaw Academy. 

Pricing:

  • Pricing ranges from 7.00 to 44.00

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Image Credits

Phil Eich
Tanisha Jackson

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