For Darby Day, it all started with cupcakes.
She was 10 years old, loved being in the kitchen and loved baking.
“Darby’s Delicious Delights” was the name of her childhood bakery concept—and what kicked off more than a decade of entrepreneurship.
Day, a senior economics major from Atlanta, started her business by baking cupcakes for people and wrapping them in cute paper and boxes. She started small with stickers reading “Darby’s Delicious Delights” in pink and green, her favorite colors. At age 15, she got an official business license, a Cottage Food Industry License, formed an LLC and got ServSafe certified. In high school, she sold the confections at farmers markets.
“I fell in love with the business side, and that’s when I knew I wanted to study business in college and own something and grow it from an idea to a physical product,” said Day, who is indeed studying business and entrepreneurship at the University of Georgia.
At UGA, Day completed UGA’s entrepreneur certificate program and has gone through the Idea Accelerator several times—learning how to take a business idea into a full-fledged company. She describes the program as fast-paced and challenging.
“I learned so much about networking, interviewing people to get more information, and learning about what consumers are interested in” she said. “I read every textbook cover to cover. The program kept me on my toes and taught me that I have a lot to learn.”
Her favorite read was the Harvard Business Review cases—where a business’s story from start to finish, and every hurdle in between, is explained. At the end the company is revealed—since many companies start with different names.
The program teaches “all the aspects of owning a business— from the finance and accounting side, to creativity and the thought process behind it,” she said. “As an entrepreneur, you have to have a certain mindset going into it, and I think they do a really good job of outlining it for us.”
Baking for others
Ultimately, Day’s dream is to start another business—and own a food product that’s in grocery stores.
For now, her business has grown to include a variety of desserts and kids’ parties ranging from cookie decorating to tea parties. Her new specialty is sprinkles cakes—simple but fun. “It works for every age, every occasion,” she said. She has made graduation cakes and holiday cakes. She even made a cat cake for an 7th birthday and a camping cake for a 12th birthday. All while exercising extra safety and food handling precautions
In high school, her favorite thing to do was bake birthday or special occasion cupcakes as surprises for her friends to find in their lockers.
“It became happiness at school, every morning, especially if it was your birthday or you had a big game the day before,” she said. “It was a thing to go check your locker. That was an exciting surprise.”
At UGA, this often means baking for her brother’s friends. She’s his fraternity’s sweetheart. Pre-pandemic, “I think I stopped by there every single day to surprise one of them with something. It just brings me so much joy. That reaction—the genuine surprise. That’s what keeps me going.”
“My main goal in life is that every person that I come in contact with, I want them to leave my presence feeling more loved and more confident than they were before,” she said. “In dropping off baked goods: I want them to know I was thinking about them, that I love them. I’m trying to say all of that through one cupcake or one birthday cake.”
When she’s not baking red velvet cake, Day is finishing up her economics degree at UGA and working at UGA’s Visitors Center.
On tours, she likes to stop outside Old College to tell potential students her story—that after dual enrolling in high school, she thought freshman year would be easy—and the best ever. And it was, but some days she still called her mom.
“It’s OK for it to feel like it is a transition. A lot of times, you feel very alone your freshman year. We don’t always talk about it, but everyone is in the same boat,” she said. “Not every day is perfect, but in the end, it’s a pretty extraordinary journey.”
For her, college was about learning that she didn’t have to have all the answers on Day One.
“I thought I had to have a major, a career path, and have all my friends day one, and have everything figured out. But it’s okay. Those things come with time. Take a deep breath, and know you have that time.”
The advice she tells students on tours: “Be the best version you can be. And never lose sight of who you really are. Follow your passions. Be kind.”
For Day, from baking cupcakes to easing the worries of parents on campus tours, it all comes back to service.
“Helping people,” she said. “It’s ultimately I want to do with my life.”