A sweet partnership.

Vistage and NFTE help a young Boston baker realize a dream.

Vistage’s new partnership with NFTE, Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship brings together bright young entrepreneurs with successful CEOs who are experts at advising business owners—no matter how young.

For one Boston baker, it’s made all the difference.

Jennifer La Sala knew that she wanted to do something with candy or baked goods. She also struggled in school and considered dropping out. It wasn’t until she took a NFTE class that things clicked.

Each student was asked to come up with a business idea, and Jennifer says, “Baking was the first thing that popped into my head.”

From then on, she was focused on making her dream reality.

 “Through NFTE, she was on path that was taking her life in a positive direction.”

Vistage’s Dan Guglielmo had forged a relationship with NFTE, and brought Jennifer to Phil Thomas’ Boston-based Chair Group to do a presentation.

Phil was blown away by Jennifer’s story. “She overcame a lot of adversity and put herself through college. Through NFTE, she was on taking her life in a positive direction.”

Phil approached Jennifer with the idea of the Chair Group “adopting” her as a member.

They recognized how hard she had worked, and paying her Vistage dues for one year gave them a chance to teach her, as Phil puts it, “A spoonful at a time,” how to run a successful business, through their coaching.

Jennifer was still working a full-time job and had a temporary stall at Boston Public Market, a hub of vendors in the city’s center, ideal for her gourmet, allergen-free bakery to attract business from locals and tourists alike.

Phil and other members of his group taught Jennifer the skills she needed—how to do her books, for example. Her confidence and business grew.

Jennifer wanted to apply to be a permanent Boston Public Market vendor, but confessed to Phil that she was unsure—another bakery was also applying. Phil pushed her to apply, telling her she’d never know until she tried.

“So many more people should be part of Vistage.”

In March, Jennifer was selected as a permanent Boston Public Market vendor, quit her full-time job and is now a business owner at the young age of 23.

“The big takeaway from my Vistage experience is that you’re not alone,” says Jennifer. “Being a part of a supportive community feels so great. So many more people should be part of Vistage.”

Jennifer now hopes to get a commercial kitchen of her own so she can be certified as a gluten-free baker and take her business wholesale.

For Phil, seeing Jennifer succeed has been incredibly satisfying. “It’s fun to provide that sort of nurturing, like to a young plant that is going to bloom into a beautiful flower. And Jennifer is well on her way.”

To the Vistage community, Phil also highly recommends “adopting” a young entrepreneur as his group did. He says, “It really adds another dimension to the Vistage experience.”

Learn more here about Vistage’s relationship with NFTE.