At just 24, former CMU student starts own business amid a pandemic, leads the chamber of commerce

Though just three years removed from graduating from Central Michigan University in 2017, Marine City native Kyla Hatcher is quickly establishing herself as one of St. Clair County’s youngest, brightest leaders.

Earlier this year, the 24-year-old was named executive director of the Marine City Area Chamber of Commerce. Hatcher was introduced to the chamber while working events with The Sweet Tooth of Marine City, where she’s worked for more than seven years.

Taking the position just a month before the COVID-19 pandemic gripped the nation this past March, Hatcher has since been putting together resources for the city’s small businesses and working within the region on programs that help promote the small business community.

Hatcher has been adding COVID-19 response pages to the chamber website to help businesses and residents cope with the pandemic. She’s also been working with the St. Clair County COVID-19 Business Recovery Committee on programs like Shop.Dine.Win, which helps to promote the region’s small businesses with weekly cash giveaways.

"It’s been a hard learning curve because the whole job is to promote tourism and help our shops and run events," Hatcher says.

"But the goal is getting back to something that works."
 
As if she isn’t busy enough, Hatcher has recently started her own business: The Cookie Bar – St. Clair.

It wasn’t necessarily Hatcher’s intention to start a cookie business, but downtime from being stuck at home during the COVID-19 shutdowns and mandates for social distancing found Hatcher baking batches of cookies in her kitchen. After sharing photos of her creative cookie designs on social media, Hatcher began to receive messages from people wondering if her cookies were for sale.

Hatcher recently started her own business: The Cookie Bar - St. Clair.
Soon, they would be.

"I started three months ago. Now I’m fully booked for the next month with orders going all the way into November," Hatcher says.

"I hadn’t planned for this but I’m definitely appreciative. I went from bored baking to a business in three weeks."

An example of one of Hatcher's cookie creationsWhile the Cookie Bar wasn’t necessarily the plan, it has been Hatcher’s goal to start her own business. She currently works from home and accepts orders online. A storefront could be in her future, though there are no immediate plans yet.

She says she works better under pressure, which is good considering that she’s starting a business while balancing her roles at the Sweet Tooth and Chamber of Commerce.

"It’s time consuming, but it’s a good kind of stress," she says.

On top of all this, Hatcher is a first-time homeowner, having recently purchased a house in nearby St. Clair.

Hatcher cites family, being close to the water, and opportunity as reasons for her staying in the Blue Water Area. She says the region is growing and expanding and that it’s a good time to invest here.

If there’s one thing she’d like to see change, it’s more opportunities for young people. Hatcher believes that community outreach and entrepreneurial programs for high schoolers would increase the chances that they stay and build successful lives in St. Clair County.

It’s something she was looking at for the chamber, an idea now put on pause due to the coronavirus.

Still, there’s plenty yet to be done.

"It’s easier working on stuff that you enjoy doing," Hatcher says.

"I’d rather be busy than bored."

Visit The Cookie Bar – St. Clair online to learn more about Kyla Hatcher and her new business.
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