This article was originally published on columbusunderground.com.
Anyone with a dairy or gluten allergy knows how difficult it can be to enjoy sweets. But 12-year-old Henry Bowen of Henry’s Vegan Treats doesn’t let his allergies stop him from enjoying one of life’s sweetest pleasures.
Henry started out helping his mom bake before he set out on his own, and he’s been cooking and baking for a few years now. It wasn’t until last year, during his spring break, that he got the idea to start his own bakery. At first, it was just to earn some extra cash.
“There was something I wanted to buy,” Henry says. “I don’t remember what it was. But people say you should find a job doing what you love, so I decided to make some cash baking.”
Henry is allergic to dairy and eggs, so he knows what it’s like to walk into a bakery and be disappointed by his options. That is why everything he bakes is dairy, egg and nut free.
“…When you go to a vegan bakery, like Pattycake or Angry Baker, I can order almost anything on the menu. It’s a huge deal to feel welcome when you have food allergies or preferences,” says Henry. “So I want to be the kind of baker who makes sure there are always treats for everyone.”
Aside from his mom, who helps run his business and decorates all his cakes, Henry has had a lot of help from family, friends and even local business owners.
“My grandparents and aunts and uncles tell everyone about me, so that drives a lot of business. And my next-door neighbors are my biggest customers,” Henry says. “Mark Swanson at Stauf’s invited me to run my first pop-up at Stauf’s Grandview. Lee Ng at It’s All Natural in Gahanna hosted me at two pop-ups. Paul Panzera at Paul’s on Fifth gave me my first stack of cake boxes.”
Running Henry’s Vegan Treats has taught Henry what it’s like to be his own boss, which can get pretty difficult sometimes.
“It’s only hard to run my own business when I have a lot of orders, but that’s a nice problem to have,” he says. “Most of the time, it’s manageable. I only bake on weekends so I have time to do school stuff during the week.”
Henry aspires to culinary school one day, but right now, he still gets time to be just a kid.
“I like that I get to eat the left-overs,” Henry says. “It’s an on-the-job benefit, for sure.”