“Everyone should have access to life’s most basic need. If I could have any wish for anything in this world, it would be that everyone has safe and clean drinking water.” ~ Kayla Houchin
Recently, I had the pleasure of speaking with Kayla Houchin, founder of Sonder Bakehouse in Fargo, North Dakota. If you ever get to meet Kayla, please take it. She is the kind of person who reminds you there is goodness and joy in a sometimes tumultuous world. You see, Kayla loves to bake, but more importantly, she loves people. This shows even in the name she chose for the bakehouse. “Sonder” is the realization that everyone you meet, every stranger, has a story all their own and a complex life just as you do, even if you know nothing about them.
Kayla credits the woman who babysat her as a young girl, Karla, for lighting her fire for baking. They would spend time together in the kitchen baking, making messes, and sharing conversation, and her life changed because of it. Today, Karla, now 76 years old, is back in the kitchen, spending time with Kayla at Sonder Bakehouse whenever she can. As Kayla says, “I believe baking brings people together.”
Even while at college, where Kayla studied to be a teacher, the baking bug never left, and she soon learned that people were happy to pay for her efforts so they could enjoy the delicious things coming out of her kitchen. She baked for weddings, fundraisers, and whenever the community needed her help. Fast forward to 2021, and Kayla had to decide between teaching and baking, two things dear to her heart. The stars aligned, and she knew it was time to make the jump, and now here she is, running Sonder Bakehouse. The world may be a better place thanks to Kayla’s fabulous, sweet treats; however, it’s the message she is spreading through those treats that make one stop and consider how they, too, can make the world a better place.
Inspired by a book
Kayla is an avid reader and all-around knowledge seeker, and several years ago, she read the book, “Start Something That Matters,” by Blake Mycoskie, which discusses finding one’s purpose and using your talents to make a difference in the world. The book is full of success stories about passionate people helping others, and Kayla was specifically drawn to the story of Scott Harrison, who wrote “Thirst,” a book that spreads the word about the world’s need for clean water and how we can help. Have you ever seen something and knew you were meant to see it? That’s what happened to Kayla. She knew immediately that her talent for baking would be used to help bring clean water to those who need it.
The story gets more impressive. As luck, coincidence, or perhaps God would have it, it just so happened that Scott would come to Fargo, North Dakota, to speak just four months after Kayla read his book. She went to hear him speak, and that was it. She wasn’t going to waste any more time. When her next birthday came around, Kayla launched her first birthday campaign on social media to raise awareness and money for Charity Water. This charity uses all donations to bring clean water to areas of the world that do not have it.
Today, Kayla continues her birthday campaigns (in 2019, her campaign raised $17,000) and, of course, uses Sonder Bakehouse to raise money to bring fresh, clean water to people in countries without it. She also speaks at schools; some of her sweetest stories come from those times as she’s seen the hearts of children willing to give. Kayla says, “One 5th grader gave me $100 and said it was their report card money. A kindergarten student gave me $7 and some odd change; everything in her piggy bank.” Listening to Kayla speak with passion in her voice and hearing her impact on children and the world gave me chills the entire time. Another child, deeply moved as Kayla spoke of the world’s need for clean water, has since published a book while in 8th grade about the need.
Supporting Charity Water
Sonder Bakehouse offers regular events to raise money for Charity Water, such as experiences that guests sign up for, with part of the price going toward clean water. You can also find baked goods, like a box of beautiful macarons on her site to order and support Charity Water.
In May, an exciting event is coming up, hosted by Kayla, called Fargo Gala: Charity Water. Kayla took a shot and reached out to Scott Harrison, assuming the chances were slim that such a busy person, heavily involved in clean water charities, would have the time to speak at a gala in North Dakota. Chances are worth taking, and Scott will speak at this critical event on May 2nd. You can find more information about the Fargo Gala here.
When I asked Kayla how others can get involved, she said, “Get involved however you can. Anything you enjoy doing, you can turn it into a beautiful giving moment.” Kayla reminds others that it’s not always about money. We can also raise awareness with social media posts and bring up the topic in conversation.
I do a lot of interviews, and I can promise you this…I will never forget Kayla Houchin, her empathetic heart, and her passion for giving to others. One of Kayla’s favorite quotes, which you’ll find in Sonder Bakehouse, is “You’re the Magic.” I hope this story resonates with many, and if only one more person uses their gifts to help others and share their magic, the world will be better because of it.