Kaley Dawson of St. John wins $10K prize in Grace College Business Plan Competition • Northwest Indiana Business Magazine
Kaley Dawson Grace College

Kaley Dawson of St. John wins $10K prize in Grace College Business Plan Competition

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Kaley Dawson Grace College
Melissa Chappell (left) and Jeff Fawcett (right) with Grace College, celebrate with Kaley Dawson (center) who won $10,000 in the 10th annual Grace College Business Plan Competition. (Photo provided by Grace College)

Kaley Dawson’s vision to grow her cupcake business received a $10,000 boost.

The St. John native and 2019 Illiana Christian High School graduate earned the prize in Grace College’s 10th annual Business Plan Competition. Dawson, a senior entrepreneurial student at Grace who is on track to graduate this spring, plans to use her winnings to expand her custom cake, cupcake and sugar cookie business.

“Making custom cakes and cupcakes has been my passion for as long as I can remember,” said Dawson. “I've actually owned Kaley's Cupcakes for over three years, and I was looking for a way to grow my business.”

Dawson, who attended Moraine Valley Community College in Palos Hills, Illinois for one year to study culinary arts before transferring to Grace, already was planning the next evolution of her business when she purchased a vintage trailer, which she planned to use for selling her baked goods at farmers’ markets and other events. Now she plans to use her prize money to remodel and equip the trailer for her business.

Dawson prepared for the competition, which was sponsored by the law firm of Beers Mallers Backs & Salin, Wildman Business Group and Horizon Bank, with help from a local branch of the Service Corps of Retired Executives.

“The SCORE mentors were so helpful throughout the entire class and presentation,” Dawson said. “The business plan competition walks you through everything that goes into planning a business, including writing a detailed business plan and thinking of all of the details to successfully present your business idea.”

Dawson hopes one day to open a storefront for her business. She recognizes the importance of the business lessons learned during the competition and looks forward to what tomorrow holds for her company.

 “I can't wait to see how Kaley’s Cupcake Co. grows in the future,” she said.

Melissa Chappell, assistant professor of management and interim director of the William P. Gordon Institute for Enterprise Development at Grace College, said it has been a joy to see Dawson’s dedication in developing her business.

“For all of us in the school of business who have walked alongside her in this journey, we are thrilled to see her business dreams come true,” Chappell said.


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