We had the good fortune of connecting with Kala Vaughn and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kala, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
How has your balance changed over time? My work/life balance changes often. Being the single mother of a toddler, changes come around in my personal life almost every week. So with dealing with a customer-based business, I have to learn to adapt to the changes of the market and the little person that depends on me every day. When I first started my business there wasn’t much thought about work/life balance. But now that I have shifted the focus of my business, have a concentrated niche, and a set schedule, I’m able to balance work & life with a little more ease; but it’s no walk in the park. How do you think about the balance? I welcome the challenge of having to balance my work and life, and the frequency of those changes. Thinking about the balance allows me to work on my other entrepreneurial endeavors, and fit those into the mold. I feel if I am cognizant about these changes and the need to work on balancing these two very important things, it makes me a better businesswoman, better mother, and a better person overall.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Belle Sweets is an online vegan gourmet cookie shop delivering delicious, decadent, and unique cookies and brownies straight to your door. Belle Sweets uses organic ingredients, fair-trade chocolate, and takes pride in creating beautiful things you can eat. What sets Belle Sweets apart from other bakeries is my focus on being flavor forward. Yes, if you’re craving something sweet you want it to be sugary, but I pride myself on developing treats that give you a balance of sweetness and flavor. I’m proud of being able to reinvent my business and try new things. When I was previously featured by your publication, I was a southern-inspired bakery offering sweet bread, cupcakes, cookies, and brownies. But last year I reevaluated my best sellers and decided to focus my creativity on a niche market, cookies. It was not easy getting to where I am, and it still is not. It’s all about continual education, I learn new things every day. I still have things to learn about running a business, because I’m only 3.5 years in, but I’ve learned a lot and am fortunate to help friends and family with advice that I’ve used for myself. I want the world to know that Belle Sweets is a labor of love. I started this bakery when I was a recent graduate of ASU and 5 months pregnant, named it after my mother and daughter, and have continued to turn a hobby into my passion that I want everyone to experience.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
First, I would go hiking, because that is one of the best nature experiences you can have in the Phoenix valley. I love to show people Downtown Phoenix, because it has a lot of character, and the street art is phenomenal. There are so many great restaurants around the city, especially vegan spots, so I would set up a few days to do miniature food tours around the valley. Some of my favorite places are the Phoenix Zoo, Phoenix Art Museum, pretty much any mountain park because the views are amazing. But I think one of the best views looking west of Phoenix is from the Papago Buttes at night.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My shoutout goes to my family. I consider a good amount of people my family, from my actual immediate family to individuals I’ve chosen to be my family. I’m shouting out this special group of people because they have either been there for me from the beginning of this business journey or jumped in within the last year or two and showed so much love. Going into business while prepping to be a mother was liberating, but also terrifying, and my parents have been the biggest supporters through that process. I can’t thank them enough for what they have sacrificed and assisted with to allow me to grow my business and push it forward. So to show my true appreciation, I’m not going to leave everyone I consider family under this umbrella group name. I’m sending so much love and the biggest shoutout to: Neicy(Mom), Mike(Dad), Jason, Mike Jr., Lavonda, Asia, Dina, Dawn, Ifayomi, Ashley, Sitovea. If I missed your name, I still love and appreciate you.