Archive for Thursday, March 26, 1998


March 26, 1998


Danyel Bell set out to earn some extra cash but ended up starting a family business with cheesecakes.

Everybody likes a homemade dessert, but not everybody has the time to make one. That thought hit Danyel Bell, Lawrence, about five years ago when she was trying to convince her parents to put her in a summer driver's education course.

``I had made one (a cheesecake) for a woman who was the janitor at school,'' Bell said. ``She came back later and asked how much I would charge to make another.''

The driving class would cost $80 and her parents had made her a deal -- if she paid half they would pay half. After running the idea past her entrepreneur father, Bell decided to make cheesecakes to earn her $40.

``My dad owns his own business,'' she said. ``Starting your own business is kind of in the family.''

After a little help buying groceries in the beginning, Bell's cheesecake business soon became the talk of Central Junior High School. Teachers, parents and others bought her dessert again and again, helping her bring in the $40 and then some.

The oldest of nine children, Bell was soon buying her own groceries and expanding her flavors. She continued making the cakes throughout her years at Lawrence High School, earning extra spending and college money.

Now a freshman studying computer engineering at Kansas University, Bell said running her own business helped her learn how to succeed.

``So many times people think young people are not responsible,'' she said. ``It gives you a lot more credibility, because with a business you have to prove to that person that you are responsible. You can't be soft spoken.''

The success of her business even changed her own life. She'd always thought her opportunities for college and life would come outside of Kansas.

``Because of the business I know a lot of people. They know I am responsible, and they know my work,'' she said.

That could help her in the future, after she finishes the master's program in business she has planned and opens her own computer store.

``My dad has this thing about the `Bell Empire,''' she said. ``If we all are responsible, we will do well. And if we make it, he can retire.''

Although she's passed the majority of her business to her four younger sisters, Bell's part in starting the business recently brought her a piece of fame. She is one of more than 20 young women featured in the new book, ``Girls and Young Women Entrepreneurs: True Stories About Starting and Running a Business Plus How You Can Do It Yourself,'' by Frances Karnes.

To promote the book and young entrepreneurship, Bell appeared with the author and four other business starters at the annual Take Your Daughter to Work Day luncheon held by the Mid-Continent Council of Girl Scouts on Monday in Kansas City, Mo.

Despite all of her experience, the secret of her success, Bell said, is something she hasn't quite figured out. Her best bet -- ``It's just homemade.''

-- Selena Stevens' phone message number is 832-7165. Her e-mail address is

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