This 13-year Old Opened a Bakery to Give Cupcakes to the Homeless

Michael uses a 1-for-1 business model to take on food inequality.

Jul 7, 2019

(Courtesy of Michaels Desserts) 

Michael Platt is not your ordinary 13-year old. He is the creator and baker and owner of Michaels Desserts, a company that gives a cupcake, cake, or cookie to the homeless for every dessert it sells. This is quite an accomplishment for a youth barely in his teens.

Michael said he started baking because he has an epic sweet tooth, and opened the bakery when he was only 11-years old because he is passionate about ending inequality. "I know that a cupcake won't end hunger but a tasty treat, when times are tough, can make life sweeter," he wrote on the company's website.

Inspired by the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., Michael has been very passionate about inequality, especially concerning income inequality and child hunger, and always wanted to work for justice.

He also loved to watch Youtube bakers in his Bowie, Maryland home and wanted to start creating the same kind of elaborate edible designs. He was awestruck by the way they turned eggs, flour, and water into art, according to the Washington Post.

When his parents gave him a pair of Toms Shoes for Christmas three years ago, Michael saw this a way of connecting his passion for fighting inequality with his love of cupcakes. He founded Michaels Deserts – he left out the apostrophe to remind himself that his mission is to bake for others and not for himself – on that model.

Twice a month Michael distributes his amazing creations to domestic violence shelters, transitional housing, and visits McPherson Square in Washington, DC to pass out his pastries. But what he really enjoys is giving them to kids. He also works with the DC-based nonprofit No Kid Hungry. 

“I know I like cupcakes, but also cupcakes are part of a child’s childhood so they should get them,” Michael told the Washington Post, and added that he always eats one with whipped icing on his birthday.

When Michael started his business, his parents purchased the supplies to help get it going. Now, the home-based bakery funds itself, according to his mom, Danita Platt.

Michaels Deserts offers three kinds of baked goods a month: shortbread cookies, a staple item and a specialty "Chef's" choice item that he invents every four weeks and dedicates to freedom fighters.

“So I choose a person to base a cupcake off for each month,” Michael said. “And each month I have a flavor that represents them — and I’ll tell their story on my Instagram page.” Some of his freedom fighters are MLK, Maya Angelou, Harriet Tubman, and Nelson Mandela.

Most of the customer's order on Facebook, but now Michael also has a website. He sells around 75 cupcakes a month charging $15 for four and gives away the same amount. He will also bake special ordered cakes and cupcakes for birthdays, weddings, and other events.

Michael can do all this baking because his mother homeschools him. Michael had to leave public school (and Danita had to leave her job) when he was diagnosed with epilepsy in the sixth grade, and his seizures were too frequent for him to stay in school.

It was a very, very difficult time,” Danita said. “He had to stop everything he loved: gymnastics, climbing trees, [and] diving. So that’s when he kind of threw himself into baking.”

Michael does all his baking at home in the kitchen he shares with his mom, who he calls his baking consultant because she is there to provide support and supervision. He is a perfectionist, and everything is made and decorated according to his high standards.

But Michael is still a 13-year old, and he gets tired of being in the kitchen but said that that's when he thinks about a homeless boy that he met once while handing out cupcakes. A few days later, the boy's father sent him a message on Facebook that his son was so inspired by Michael that now he wants to become a baker too.

“I always wanted to have a purpose for what I do,” Michael said. “It’s all about helping people — not just having a purpose for yourself, but thinking about, 'How does this touch other things?’ ”

Sharing deserts might not change the world, but it will brighten the day of the people who receive them. Sometimes that's all it takes to make a difference in a person's life.

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BONNIE RIVA RAS, EDITOR & WRITER
Bonnie Riva Ras has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.

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