June 4, 2014 at 10:42 AM ET
Like most young girls her age, Taylor Moxey, 8, spends her days learning at school, going to dance class and doing her chores.
But unlike her friends, Taylor is the head chef of a booming baking business.
What began as a way for Taylor to make extra money for a toy has evolved into a successful confectionery company out of her parents' Miami, Florida home kitchen that is earning her big-name clients and her very own billboard.
It all started with a Sunday trip to Target when Taylor asked her parents for a toy.
“I told her, ‘You know what? Find a way to get the money,’” Vernon Moxey, Taylor’s dad, told TODAY.com. “She asked, ‘Can I sell cookies?'"
Moxey, who works as an etiquette consultant but says he was at one point homeless, decided to use this as a life lesson to teach Taylor about being self-sufficient. They wrote out a business agreement on a napkin and Moxey gave Taylor $40 as a loan. Taylor used that money to whip up cookies and brownies, which she then took to church that Sunday to sell after the service.
“Honestly, I didn’t think she would make $40 back,” Moxey said. Taylor ended up making more than enough to pay her dad back and cover the toy. She walked away with $175.
Soon after, people from the congregation began calling Taylor asking her to bring her cookies back again. She also entered the KISS Country Midtown Miami Cornbread Competition, where, after competing against adults, she won first place — a $250 prize, a billboard and a reputation as one of the town’s top bakers.
“Everything went bonkers,” Moxey said, adding that his daughter's clients include former Miami Heat player Joel Anthony and HGTV designer Bobby Berk . “Suddenly I’m taking orders for Taylor’s Cookies and Cupcakes.”
For Taylor, it seems that the business is more fun than hard work.
“I think baking is mostly my passion,” she said. “You get to take your recipe and different people’s recipes and add different things to them.” She's hoping to host a party this summer serving cupcakes with palm trees on the frosting.
Taylor credits Martha Stewart among her inspirations. She not only makes the baked goods out of her parents’ kitchen, but she also creates a custom box for each customer, made with stickers, markers and other handmade decorations.
“It’s almost nostalgic,” Moxey said. “She takes time to color it, put stickers on it. People say they made them feel like a kid again.”
While Taylor has made nearly $10,000 so far, she donates 30 percent of her proceeds to raise dyslexia awareness, a learning disorder that her own dad has.
“If you have a platform and people can hear your voice, it’s important to use it for some good,” Moxey said.
While the orders continue to pour in for Taylor’s confectioneries, her parents are making a strong effort to keep the business under control so Taylor can focus on being a kid.
“I don’t want to take away her childhood,” Moxey said. “Every decision is cleared by us, but we allow her to make the decision.”