Abby’s Sweet Treats
An Interview with Abby Kitlas
By Krista Martinelli, with Photos and Video by Monica Kallas
If you’re looking for some perfectly baked sweets this holiday season, you can support a 14-year-old entrepreneur in Wellington Abby Kitlas. At 5-years-old, Abby was fond of making the slice and bake cookies with her mother Caitlin. After that, the baking progressed to box recipes. And soon after that, Abby started finding new recipes on her phone. At just 13, she expanded and started Abby’s Sweet Treats. “My mom inspired me to start baking,” says Abby, who enjoys baking even more than cooking.
What is it about baking that she loves? She sums it up with two reasons. “I honestly really like eating the finished product,” she laughs. Also, Abby points out that baking is a science. “You follow exact steps and make sure that you have everything measured correctly.” Now that she has added some festive packaging to her Hot Cocoa Bombs, Chocolate Dipped Pretzels and other confections, she’s learned to not add too much, as everything needs to fit perfectly.
As someone who’s not always been lucky with melting chocolate, I asked her what her technique is. She either microwaves the chocolate (Ghirardelli) in 30 second increments, mixing it vigorously or melts it in a Wilton Candy Melting Pot.
As for her customers’ comments about the baked treats, “they love ‘em,” says Abby. “I have a lot of repeat buyers, who enjoy them or give them as gifts.” She’s happy to report no bad reviews to date.
Abby gives approximately 10% of her proceeds to the Palm Beach School for Autism, where her 16-year-old sister Annie goes to school. “Amazingly, they were able to help my sister enjoy school.” In previous years, Annie used to cry when she arrived at school. Now she comes home from school happy and packs a lunch for the next day. Annie feels loved and safe at school. Additionally, the curriculum is more challenging and more engaging for her.
Annie is non-verbal, while being very expressive in her actions and expressions. “I have a very close bond with her,” says Abby. She helps Annie with a lot more things than many sisters do – like taking a bath. “We’re attached to each other,” says Annie, who says they play a lot and watch videos together.
Instead of seeing differences, Abby points out that people on the autism spectrum “are not that different from everyone else.” It’s a fact that she wishes other people would realize. Even though her sister Annie is non-verbal, she plays tricks on Abby and sometimes blames her for everything – with some humor involved. “I wouldn’t trade her to have a different sister,” says Abby.
In the winter, Abby’s most popular treat is the Hot Cocoa Bombs. You simply drop one of these Hot Cocoa chocolate ornaments into some warm milk and voila! The flavors blend and the marshmallows rise to the top. They come decorated with ribbons and are a perfect gift for Christmas or Hanukkah. Some of the flavors are: Peppermint, Peppermint Mocha, English Toffee, Salted Caramel Mocha, Candy Cane, Peppermint Patty, Chocolate Candy Cane and White Chocolate Candy Cane.
What’s next for Abby’s Sweet Treats? She’s not ready to expand to a warehouse space yet, but Abby would like to add some new treats to her offerings. She recently added Rice Krispy Treats. “I’d like to add cake pops and a few other things,” says Abby. She’s careful not to add new items too fast though because she wants to keep up the quality and “not become sloppy.”
In addition to baking, Abby loves dancing. She used to compete and continues to do Hip Hop and Jazz at a studio called “Feet on Fire.” In high school, she plans to try out for the Dance Team and dance at football games. She also loves to read, particularly horror books.
Abby goes to Polo Park Middle School and will go on to Wellington High School. “I want to be a lawyer, particularly a prosecutor for murder trials,” she says. Abby’s father is a lawyer, working remotely for the Department of Veteran Affairs.
Her whole family is supportive of her business. “My Mom keeps me focused and is a big help,” says Abby. She explains that her grandmother makes the peanut butter for the peanut butter cups. “And my sister is both Quantity and Quality Control,” Abby says with a smile. “She eats a little of everything. She particularly loves the chocolate pretzels with sprinkles.”
Two years ago, the Kitlas family moved from Maryland to Wellington. “I love the weather here and it’s nice to know that you’re near the beach. We’re really close to everything. I love our friends and neighbors. But I do miss the snow in Maryland,” says Abby.
She’s also getting an education in the business side of things, keeping track of the profits, re-investing in more ingredients and tools, and keeping track of customers. Abby explains that a lot of time goes into creating each sweet treat; however, she really enjoys doing it.
On Instagram and Facebook: @abbyssweettreatss
Note: Abby’s Sweet Treats will be at the Wellington Lakeside Market on Friday, December 3rd.