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Passion: a single word that describes Skyla’s pure-at-heart dedication to everything that she touches. Her passion, though, comes as no surprise. The single mom, social worker, and entrepreneur makes rising to the top look easy; working diligently, building a brand, and maintaining a kind heart through the entirety of her journey.
Born and raised in Toledo, Ohio, Skyla moved to Columbus as a freshman attending The Ohio State University. Never a stranger to hard work, she attended college on a full ride academic scholarship through the Young Scholars Program. Knowing that she’d always had a genuine desire to help people, Skyla studied social work and with hopes that she’d graduate and work in a field that she loved. Just like any success story, though, the road to her dreams became a little bumpy. One year into her undergrad experience, Skyla went through what she recalls as a bit of a “shift,” as she became a mother during her sophomore year.
Determined to finish school while embracing her new role as a mom, Skyla went on a mission to find resources that would help her get through. She became a member of Access Collaborative, an academic and social support program to assist single parent students who are pursuing a college degree at OSU. Skyla recalls the program as one of the main reasons that she remained resilient in completing her degree. “Being in Access Collaborative gave me an opportunity to meet other women who were going through the same thing what I was going through,” she said. “They kept me on top of things. The program served as a great support. We shared our fears, our pains, and our stressors. Even our happy moments, because for a lot of the girls, we were all we had.”
With the support of her group and family back home, Skyla was successful. She received her B.S. in social work from OSU in 2013. Little did she know, she soon would have even more to be proud of. She’d finished college, ready to start her career as a social worker, with her baby boy, Drake, right by her side, but she also had a successful business that she says became more than she could have ever imagined. Suga Pie’s Cupcakes, LLC, formerly known as CollegeGirl Cupcakes, is a baking business that Skyla started her sophomore year of college. She says what truly inspired her to start her own company was that she’d always loved to cook. She loved it so much, she would often bake different treats and give them away to family and friends. One day her sister suggested she started selling them, taking something that she loved and making it lucrative. Thus, CollegeGirl Cupcakes was born.
Skyla began making everything from scratch. From the batter to the frosting, to the caramel sauce, through and through, Ms. Johnson’s desserts are authentic and original. After graduation, her company expanded as people heard of and tasted her work. She re-branded, releasing a new logo and name. CollegeGirl Cupcakes became Suga Pie’s Cupcakes. The new name came in honor of Skyla’s great-grandmother, “Suga Pie,” who taught her the skills and foundation of baking; to taste and not measure.
Suga Pie’s has definitely taken off. Over the past few years, Skyla has gone from filling orders every month or so through word-of-mouth about her cupcakes to receiving orders weekly, and sometimes even daily. Staying true to her innate nature to help others, Skyla also uses her gifts and her company as a way to give back to the community. Skyla promotes breast cancer awareness
sales during the month of October and volunteered by teaching a baking class to the young ladies of Crown Gem.
Skyla’s impact on the world doesn’t stop there. As a full-time social worker employed by the Salvation Army, Skyla is a case manager for the homeless–advocating for families who are homeless, living in shelters, to ultimately stably house the family. Despite the large case loads she experiences as a social worker, Skyla says her work is very rewarding. “It makes me happy making others happy. That’s my number one goal.” She exclaims that one of the best feel-good moments in her line of work is when families thank her with their kind words and success stories. “Even when I feel like there’s more I could’ve done to help a family, I am so happy to know that they felt as if I helped them with a fresh start at life. That makes me very happy.”
It’s amazing everything that Skyla is able to get done, but she finds that prayer is essential to her staying grounded. She says she also has an amazing system of support from her family in everything that she does. Her everyday inspiration that she tucks in at night and sees every morning, is her son, Drake. In remembering what kept her going in college and even now is reminding herself that if she couldn’t do it for Skyla, she had to do it for Drake. “My baby is my number one supporter. He loves my business more than me.” Drake often brags about his mother’s creations because his mommy’s cupcakes are the “best.”
Skyla recognizes and knows first-hand how hard it can be for single mothers, especially African Americans, to make it through and accomplish all of their dreams, but she offers words of encouragement:
I need every woman, in my situation or not, to know that they can do anything. The moment I found out that I was having my son I didn’t know what I was going to do. Not knowing is a scary feeling. Not many in my situation have the support that I have, but there are resources out there. Find them. There are social workers like me and other professionals in the community to help you. No matter what, there’s no reason why you can’t continue to be great.
With Suga Pie’s doing so well, Skyla is ready to take her business to the next level. This June, she will be hosting her first ever Suga Pie’s Cupcakes launch party. She plans to have live entertainment, hors-d’oeuvres, and samples of her cupcakes to formally introduce Suga Pie’s Cupcakes to the community.
The launch party will be June 25th at the Wild Goose Creative from 4-5:30 p.m.
The event is free and open to the public.
To keep up-to-date with Skyla and Suga Pie’s Cupcakes and the upcoming launch party, check out her handles below:
Skyla is also working to be featured in a few Columbus local bridal organizations, as a preferred vendor.