Wortham, 14, named ‘Entrepreneur of the Year for North Alabama’
MADISON – After consecutive nominations for two years, Joshua Wortham of Madison, 14, has been named “Entrepreneur of the Year for North Alabama” by the Catalyst Center for Business and Entrepreneurship.
Wortham owns Peaceful Pastries and Sweets, which he started as a 10-year-old to help pay for summer camp. “I wanted to attend Peacebuilder’s Camp, but my parents didn’t have the money so they asked me to start a business. I watched TEDx Talks and YouTube videos and started a Facebook page for the business under my mom’s account,” he said.
After securing his Cottage Food Industry License, Joshua could sell from his home without Health Department inspections. Numerous neighbors and church friends ordered cookies, but Joshua still lacked enough money for camp.
“I landed my first big break when Brian Davis, CEO of Wellstone Behavioral Center, ordered cookies and bread for his board meeting. He later gave me $200 to finish paying for camp. He also invited me to make cookies for other board meetings,” Joshua said.
At age five while living in Tuscaloosa, Joshua was infatuated with the owner/chef of Mary’s Cakes and Pastries. Mary allowed him to observe as she decorated cakes. He enrolled in in his first baking class at Williams Sonoma as a 10-year-old.
At first, Joshua baked chocolate chip and oatmeal-raisin cookies and moved to breads, pies, cheesecakes, decorated cookies and cakes. He has dabbled in petit fours, chocolates and macaroons but concentrated on decorating cookies and cakes.
Joshua’s most difficult projects have been a four-tier wedding cake and an ‘Alice in Wonderland’ cake. Macaroons also are challenging.
Joshua’s mentors include Michael Girard, New York City pastry chef who worked at the Ritz Carlton; Chef Stephonie Thomas, Stephan’s Kitchen Cakes, Huntsville, his parents; godmother Marilyn Lands; and family counselor Jim Norris.
“My baking has changed so much. I first was only concerned with how something looked. Now, I understand the color wheel and how ingredients mix. Taste is equally as important as presentation,” Joshua said.
An eighth-grader, Joshua attends Lionheart Christian Academy. He will transfer to James Clemens High School and march with the band. He plays trumpet, piano, violin and flute and is learning cello.
His parents are William and Rebecca Wortham. William teaches fourth-grade math. Rebecca conducts Madison City Youth Orchestra and owns Harmony Home Music Studio. Joshua’s siblings are Bless, 29; Zachary, 25; Jacob, 23; Isaiah (deceased); Caleb, 12; Benjamin, 11; and foster sister, Courtney, 19.
Joshua hopes to own a brick-and-mortar business one day. “I keep looking for ways to get capital. Whenever I see a vacant building in Madison, I dream even harder,” Joshua said. “I have everything but the building, so I might as well keep my dream alive. I love ‘baking’ people happy!”
To order, visit Facebook/Peaceful Pastries & Sweets. Joshua 3,300-plus followers and 450 repeat customers.