Topeka teen looking to keep ‘homemade’ baked goods in hometown

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Life is what you bake it, and for Harper Zimlich, it’s been a life of business.

At just the sweet age of 11, Harper started baking.

“As soon as people started asking me, I had to have a conversation with my parents,” Harper said. “Like, what direction is this going to go? Because it’s a sacrifice for everyone.”

With one cookie at a time, she began to perfect her craft. But the process wasn’t a piece of cake.

“When she first started, she was not very good at baking,” said Rhona Zimlich, Harper’s mom. “And I fired her, because she was not very focused and just wasn’t taking it very seriously.”

After Harper’s mom gave her an ultimatum, an 11-year-old Harper took her hobby seriously, as Harper’s Homemade started to rise.

“Middle school, you’re already trying to fit in with everyone,” Harper said. “And telling people that I baked cupcakes and things, a lot of times kids were confused, you know.”

But it didn’t yield her from making her dreams come true.

“It’s a lot of late nights,” Harper said. “Staying up baking, or doing homework. And things like that. But it’s been really good for me.”

Now at the age of 18, Harper’s Homemade is still going, as she makes her way to college to study business.

“I didn’t let my age stop me,” Harper said. “I made it work. I’m continuing to make it work, and it’s really exciting. It’s turned into something that I want to do for the rest of my life.”

But for the next four years, she’s taking a step back from baking to learn the proper ingredients of running a business. While Harper is in school, she said she’s going to keep baking, but only as a hobby to focus on graduating.

“That’s the greatest dream for a parent,” Rhonda said. “So that we have been a positive part of that, and have encouraged her, and guided and directed her, that’s all you can ask for.”

Eventually opening a sweet treat shop in Top City. Harper will be attending business school in Kansas City, at The University of Missouri, Kansas City.

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