If you don’t yet know the name Alea Ogle, you will. This 16-year-old stands poised for sweet success –most likely as a baker.
She’s already made a name for herself in Streator, Ill., her rural hometown near Peoria (about 80 miles southwest of Chicago). Folks there have followed Ogle’s trajectory, along with her pastries, for five years already.
“I started selling cinnamon rolls, blueberry scones, muffins and cookies at our farmers market when I was 12. After a while, I had a lot of regular customers and followers on social media,” she says. “When I saw customers eating my products and loving them and wanting more, that kind of got me going and really motivated me to open my own shop.”
She gives a good measure of credit to her family for introducing her to batter bowls and baking sheets at a young age. From the time she was 4 or 5 years old – while kids her age were making pretend cookies in their play kitchens – Ogle was discovering the joy of cooking in her grandmother’s kitchen.
“I was always in there with her and my great-aunt and mom; they’d let me help,” she says. “My grandma taught me a lot of baking. Most everything else I learned from watching YouTube videos or Pinterest and testing unique recipes in my own kitchen.”
So for members of the Streator community who already knew of her locally acclaimed baked goods, it came as little surprise when Ogle opened her own store-front bakery business and coffee shop on Main Street last June.
The then 15-year-old opened the doors of her Blue Eyed Rascal Baking Co. at 6 a.m. and completely sold out of everything by 8 a.m. “I had to start baking all over again, and as soon as I’d fill the case, it would empty out in no time. It kept up like that the whole day. I finally had to close two hours early because I was all out of raw ingredients,” she says.
Now, as her bakery approaches its first anniversary, Ogle knows vastly more about managing the business and maintaining life outside the bakery. She plans for customer demands (like baking enough of her signature scones), orders supplies, hires and manages employees (one employee is her older sister, Helena) and handles other business-related activities while maintaining her junior-year classes and actively participating in the Streator Township FFA Chapter. Somehow, she even finds time to serve as the chapter reporter. But being a normal teenager and having fun remains a focused item on her to-do list.
“She’s always been a go-getter,” says her mother, Jody Ogle, who explains her role as the corporate officer and investor in the Blue Eyed Rascal Baking Co. As a former accountant, Mom also manages payroll and the books until her daughter can acquire those skills. A computer programmer at a full-time