Business

They went uptown when life was down

If you've walked around uptown lately, you may have spotted them:

A young girl with braids carrying a white wicker basket filled with fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies and brownies. Or maybe you noticed her younger brother holding bottled water. Or the 18-month-old twins in their stroller in the shade, mom and dad nearby.

The family of six has been selling homemade baked goods and bottled water since spring, when Earnest Walker, 30, lost his job in customer service at Harris Teeter.

“After he was laid off, instead of buckling under the pressure, we said ‘What can we do to be proactive,'” said his wife, Akua Walker, 27. “We had talked about (selling homemade treats) before, and when he lost his job, we said ‘Are we going to step out on faith operating this business and see what happens?'”

On a recent Wednesday, daughter Imani Jones, 10, stood on South Tryon Street, selling chocolate chip cookies to passersby with brother Arkeim Walker, 7, at her side. Mother and father took turns watching the twins, Amora and Sanaa Walker.

The family had sold out of oatmeal raisin cookies and were running low on their remaining chocolate chip. Each day, Akua brings about 150 cookies, sometimes brownies or cake slices, and about 36 bottles of water, which they sell for $1 each.

Akua said she keeps a daily journal detailing how much she spends on ingredients. An avid baker, she makes her cookies and brownies from scratch each morning using recipes she created. Her children help wrap them in plastic. Ultimately, she dreams of opening a restaurant in NoDa.

She said Earnest has no plans to look for another job and is focusing on growing their business, named Mosaic Edibles. Akua says she also runs a small courier service.

When Earnest worked in customer service, he was gone 14 hours a day because he had to take a bus and walk more than 40 minutes each way, Akua said. Now, the family can spend time together.

“It's been a blessing,” she said.

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