"I just love to bake," Jalen Bailey tells PEOPLE. "it's fun!"

By Susan Keating
August 08, 2016 04:20 PM
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Credit: Sharhonda Mahan

An 8-year-old California boy who loves to bake is cooking up big plans for his family, one confection at a time.

Fresno resident Jalen Bailey runs a home-based bakery, where he creates and sells cookies, bread, muffins and tarts in hopes of earning enough money to buy a house for himself and his mom, Sharhonda Mahan.

This summer, when other kids his age are in swimsuits at the pool, Bailey is wearing his apron, hard at work in the kitchen. Instead of running around a ball field, Bailey is running a hand mixer, whipping up fresh batches of yummy treats.

“I just love to bake,” he tells PEOPLE. “It’s fun!”

Especially when there is a goal to pursue.

“I want to buy a house with a pool and a big back yard and a kitchen so me and my momma can bake and make memories.”

Bailey and his mom, a single parent, live in a small rental house. While still a pre-schooler, Bailey got started in baking by helping his mom during gift-giving season.

“I used to bake sweet potato pies to get extra money for the holidays,” says Mahan, 30, a nanny. “He was always in the kitchen, asking if he could help.”

“I didn’t do it well at all,” Bailey says. “It took me 10 minutes to cut one sweet potato.”

Eventually, though, Bailey got the knack not only for peeling, but also for cracking eggs, measuring ingredients, reading aloud the instructions to his mom, and running the mixer.

“It got to where he could make his first peanut butter cookies all by himself,” Mahan says. “He said, ‘Mom, I got this. I don’t need any help.’ ”

Before long, Bailey was baking up a storm – and cooking up ideas.

A natural entrepreneur – both Bailey and Mahan had been running various side businesses, such as doing photography and making bracelets – the youngster thought he could make a go of his baking.

During one of the duo’s weekly “pow-wow” meetings, where they discuss plans for the upcoming week, Bailey floated the idea of starting a home-based bakery.

“He was serious,” Mahan says. “So we researched it. We figured out food safety, the type of license you need, and how to run a cottage food operation.”

Bailey obtained a license from his city.

Mahan then sent her budding business kid to a workshop for mini-impresarios. There, he learned the finer points of sales, marketing, and how to reach a target audience.

Now, the proprietor of Jalen’s Bakery produces and sells goodies by the dozen.

His personal favorites?

“I love the peanut butter cookies,” Bailey says.

When not in the kitchen, the young go-getter runs an annual back-to-school drive, compiling supplies for kids in homeless shelters. He also has a book club, where he and other kids take turns reading to one another.

“I love reading,” Bailey says.

Strongly supporting Bailey is his dedicated mom, who previously homeschooled her bright son.

“I wanted to keep him ahead,” Mahan says. “I wanted to give him the education I thought he needed. I knew I could do it if I were there.”

With Bailey now in school while Mahan works to support them, the proud mom is thrilled to see the little bakery in progress.

“It’s great to see that they’re picking up what you’re teaching them,” Mahan says. “It’s a great satisfaction knowing you helped them achieve what you want them to achieve.”

Currently, Mahan takes orders from customers and delivers locally. The immediate next goal is to be able to ship orders to customers beyond Fresno.

In order to help Bailey take his bakery to the next level, Mahan started a GoFundMe campaign.

Says Bailey: “I just want to be succesful.”