Inspiring Community Involvement Through Doughnuts
About two years ago, a craving for a good doughnut led Youthprise staff to a doughnut shop in Dinkytown where they discovered the creative force of Bradley Taylor. Taylor’s shop Sssdude-Nutz sold square doughnuts designed to satisfy every craving. (The name derives from a braces-imposed lisp in Taylor’s youth when he tried to say “Dude.”)
A California born University of Minnesota Sociology graduate, Taylor turned his craving for the doughnut shops that are community gathering places in L.A. into a business. He was just getting his feet on the ground with Sssdude-Nutz when Youthprise entered the picture. “I met all these cool people from various backgrounds who saw young people, community, and business/commerce in what I was doing, and I wanted to be part of it,” says Taylor. With Youthprise’s encouragement and resources, he went from an entrepreneur who “just wanted to sell doughnuts to hungry college kids” to a community-minded activist with more than doughnuts on the menu.
Not only does Taylor sell every imaginable variety of doughnut in an appealing square shape that gives you 11% more doughnut in their corners, he also sponsors community gatherings called “Backpack Buffets.” Inspired by a friend’s story of kids not having school supplies at the start of the school year, he uses the power of social media to organize give-away events. After soliciting donations by group-texting his friends, he identifies convenient distribution centers. “First there were 50 kids,” he says. The numbers have tripled since that first event in North Minneapolis. The beauty of the event is that kids have the agency to choose what school supplies they need.
People think things are unattainable because they’re big aspirations,” he says of the Backpack Buffets. But Taylor monitors community needs and listens to customer desires, leading to Sssdude-Nutz becoming a food truck. The truck has allowed Taylor to reach neighborhoods that might be considered food deserts, impacting local food systems, and helping him spread the message of the Backpack Buffets.
After following Youthprise’s suggestion to extend his community involvement, Taylor wisely apprenticed himself to an experienced food truck chef to sharpen his business savvy. His chosen mentor, Alec Duncan of Potter’s Pasties and Pies is currently 8 yearsand five trucks into his food truck enterprise. He’s demonstrated how even the small alteration in recipe can lead to better profit margins.
As for Taylor, he advises us all to “stay tuned” for upcoming Sssdude-Nutz news. He’s already made onto an episode of “Food Truck Nation” with innovations such as vegan doughnuts.
It turns out the ingredients in growing a food cart business aren’t so different from those to build community impact: a mix of attentiveness, responsiveness, and creativity. But, as Taylor sees it, “None of this would have happened without the people and culture of Youthprise” who share in his philanthropic interests that are “bigger than doughnuts.”
Writing by Maddy Wegner, editing by Youthprise staff