We had the good fortune of connecting with Kaleigh Marks and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kaleigh, how do you think about risk?
Risk taking is something I am getting better at. At first, when I started my business I was ready to take all the risks. Mostly with the people I chose to trust in the business. Other businesses wanting to help me and I was so excited to listen to what everyone had to say. Eager to learn all that I could because I had heard that Arizona was one of the places you had to fit into a clique to make things actually happen for yourself. Being the introvert that I am, I was still ready to put myself out there and it is exactly what I did. I was taking more risks letting people in my circle than I should have rather than taking bigger risks with myself. I have learned that the biggest risk I took was trusting the people that were around me. Starting a business you really have to KNOW the people your working with. You have to read fine lines and between the lines. Not everyone is really out to help you, so know their gain from the situation. Looking at risk now is all about calculation, not jumping to any decision, & reading the fine lines. I come from absolutely nothing, so starting a business was a risk. In my opinion, you have to take risks in life to learn and grow. But you must learn from mistakes made to move forward. Don’t give up on your vision if a risk you take doesn’t pan out. You have to take that risk of listening to the voice inside of you that tells you to keep moving forward. The risk of believing in yourself. & The risk of failure, because you have only failed once you stop trying.
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?
I own and operate a Hemp Infused Bakery based out of Phoenix. Honestly, we have quite a few differences than most of our competitors. First, we are a proud LGBT owned and operated business that promotes more than just our brand. We promote self love, growth, and hope inspire others to follow their dreams. Life is too short to be unhappy! As far as our brand goes, we focus on quality, flavor, and sustainability in our packaging. We wanted our company to make products that people would savor till the last bite. We use only the best ingredients to include: natural sugar, cage free brown eggs, pink Himalayan salt, real & unsalted butter, Ghirardelli chocolate, and fresh fruit to name a few. We also use mason jars for the majority of our products and or Kraft bags and boxes. We are not a company that takes shortcuts, even being such a small company we care about not only our customers but the planet. We want that to be shown in everything we do. I will say it has not always been the easiest. Currently the consumer focus has been the highest dosed products instead of quality and sustainability. That is why we do our best to educate the consumers the best we can and make ourselves available to them. I will say that I have lost opportunities because I chose not to use preservatives to elongate the shelf life. Quality is one of my foundational business focuses and there are plenty of companies out there that provide products with longer shelf lives. We are targeting the more health conscious consumers that look to treat themselves from time to time. The other issue has been my not budging on using sustainable packaging. I understand plastic is a cheaper option, however, cheaper isn’t always the best in the long run. Along the way I have learned so many lessons. The ones that I have taken to heart the most is that you must take risks, you cannot give up on your dreams, and the unexpected happens. You must chose the people around you wisely, because the people around you matter. If I were to want people to know anything about me, it would be that this hasn’t been easy. I don’t need EASY. What I needed was to believe in myself, and that alone has gotten me so incredibly far. You don’t need to be given a silver spoon to be successful. All you need is to trust yourself, to learn from mistakes, and to never give up on your dreams.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
If I were to take a friend visiting the area to anywhere to show them a good time, it would be Fossil Creek in Strawberry, Arizona. It is less than 2 hours away and one of my favorite places in Arizona. It is about a mile hike, through trees, along side a creek that leads to a waterfall. The trail along the way is absolutely beautiful, and an amazing reminder of how beautiful nature is. That is is something that needs to be protected. I have always met amazing people there and cant say I have ever had a bad time. I would bring a picnic and something to smoke on. But, I have found that in chaos, in times of depression, in times of doubt… nothing soothes the soul like serenity. Bars are not my thing, and nature has a way of bringing peace. I wish nothing more than for the people around me to have the sense of peace and wonder. I don’t think there is a better place for that than along side a waterfall surrounded by trees. I love Sedona as well, it would be my second choice. But anywhere in nature is an exciting place for me. Growing up in Washington, I can appreciate the sounds and peace that comes with nature.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I’m not going to lie, I have a very small circle after this last year. Like most, it was one of the hardest years of my life. But 4 people HANDS down deserve a shout out standing by me after all this year has thrown at me. Prince & Angela, I’ve never felt such a sense of family as I have the day you both walked into my life. You both have always seen something in me I didn’t know I had until now. You all have shown me more of what family is in the last 2 years than I’ve known my entire life. Quon, my business partner, you are one of the smartest individuals I know, and my go to for almost everything. I thank you for always answering my call when shit hits the fan and teaching me patience. Teaching me to trust myself, and helping me learn that this is indeed the right path for me. Lastly, Seni, for standing by me since day 1 rooting for me and taking the absolute BEST pictures of me in the world. I am truly blessed to have these individuals in my life.
Photos taken by Kaleigh Marks & Seni Olivares.