Two weeks ago I learned about a local twelve year old girl who recently started a vegan and gluten free doughnut business. I was in total shock, one, because I could hardly believe that a twelve year old would take on such an entrepreneurial venture and two, because I don’t know any twelve year old vegans, especially in my small town! I knew that I had to meet this young woman and within a couple of days I set out to do just that!
I got up bright and early on a Saturday morning to visit the Nevada City Farmers Market with the distinct mission of meeting the young and mysterious Founder of Kleo’s Doughnuts, Kleo Redd. Accompanied by her mom, I was pleased to meet Kleo at her booth, who presents herself as being much older than her years. Though it was a warm and bustling Saturday morning, Kleo and her mother took time to let me sample the selection of doughnuts, all made in a local commercial kitchen, and even sent me home with a few. The doughnuts were dense, delicious and and I had no idea by taste that they were gluten free.
Why was I soooo excited to meet a fellow vegan and try vegan donuts? Mostly it was because vegan donuts are a rarity where I live here in the Sierra Nevada Foothills of Northern California in spite of our great vegan-friendly businesses and restaurants. And, who doesn’t love doughnuts? They have always been one of my favorite sweet treats ever since I can remember.
After spending time with Kleo I learned that she is in great need of significant help. Not only is Kleo making tasty doughnuts that are made from high quality animal-free, plant ingredients, but she shared with me that she can’t sustain her new business without the assistance of her fellow vegan friends like you and me. Kleo is more than half way through her online 30 day Kickstarter campaign where she’s trying to raise $3,300 to help fund her business. In order for her project to be funded, she must reach her financial goal by July 21st (that’s just 10 days away from now!). Can you help? Even a donation of $1.00 may help Kleo meet her goal. If you pledge over $25.00 you may just be able to try her vegan and gluten free doughnuts yourself as she’s offering yummy incentives to some of her high rolling backers! After meeting Kleo, I can vouch that she’s motivated, she wants to make a difference on this planet, and she’s a great chef! Read on to learn what Kleo had to say when I sat down one on one with her last week.
CCG: How’d you come up with the idea of Kleo’s vegan and gluten free doughnuts?
Kleo: I made a variation of my favorite doughnut recipe from my favorite cookbook called Babycakes Covers the Basics: Gluten-Free Vegan Recipes From Donuts to Snickerdoodles. My family and friends loved the doughnuts and the recipe stuck. I brought doughnuts into my school for Valentine’s Day and I also made chocolate doughnuts for the entire kindergarten class at my school when they studying the letter “D”. With the support of my friends and my community I was encouraged to start my own business making doughnuts.
CCG: Why did you decide to create your doughnuts both vegan and gluten free?
Kleo: It only makes sense to make the donuts vegan because I have been vegan my whole life. The recipe I started from was already gluten free and my family is mostly gluten free so it made sense to keep the recipe as it was, especially because vegan and gluten free aren’t that far off. As I mentioned, I have been vegan my whole life and I don’t approve of the way that farm animals are treated or the way that the dairy and meat industry work.
CCG: What do you see the future holds for Kleo’s Doughnuts?
Kleo: I see it as a segway as what I really want to do; to be a fashion designer. I want to use the profits that I make to start saving for college for me and my little brother. And I also want to donate some of the proceeds to my favorite non-profit organization, Farm Sanctuary who rescues factory farmed animals and gives them a lifelong home.
CCG: What makes Kleo’s Doughnuts special and different from other donuts aside from them being both vegan and gluten free?
Kleo: All my doughnuts are baked and not fried. I use apple sauce as one of the wet ingredients and coconut sugar, so for being doughnuts they are relatively good for you.
CCG: Can you tell us about some of your flavors and which is your favorite?
Kleo: I make an array of flavors for the local Farmers Market each week: Chocolate, Maple, Vanilla, Smores, Triple Chocolate and one fruit flavor that changes weekly (blueberry, strawberry, raspberry). My favorite flavor is Vanilla, but Smores seems is the best seller as well as a favorite amongst young kids. I’m exploring creating other new flavors including Limoncello.
CCG: Is there anything else that you want people to know about you or your new business?
Kleo: I’m twelve years old and I really want this business to work which is why I recently launched my own Kickstarter campaign to help get my new business off the ground. I really need the help of my vegan community near and far. I hope that everyone who reads this will consider pledging to my campaign even if it’s as little as $1.00. My hope is to spread my love of cruelty free eating through delicious doughnuts.
Watch Kleo’s short Kickstarter Campaign video below (there’s only 10 days left to help her meet her goal!) and make a small donation if you possibly can. We need more compassionate human beings on the earth that are willing to make a difference from a young age just like Kleo!
Thanks and yeehaw, Kayle