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Cupcakes and Christmas find youth a creative home


In his dreams, 19-year-old Novocastrian James* wears a superhero cape and mask.

Rather than leap off tall buildings though, the former Kotara High School student has visions of feeding people tasty treats.

Some are red velvet in flavour, others are peppermint and many are chocolate.

Captain Cupcake, as he’d prefer to be known, loves nothing more than planning a menu, buying ingredients and baking and cooking, and impressing people with his food.

On Saturday 5 December, the cheeky teen will take part in his first public sale when he hosts a stall at the Young Artisans Marketplace’s Christmas Youth Market.

The market is designed to offer creative youth aged between 12 and 25 a chance to showcase their talents and be paid for their efforts.

The event, the fourth of its kind to be held in Newcastle, will this year be sponsored by the Hunter Futurepreneurs and received a grant from the City of Newcastle.

Young Artisans Marketplace coordinator and brainchild of the event, 22-year-old Asha Larkin, says gaining financial assistance has given her future reassurance.

“This sponsorship has been very important,” she said.

“It’s allowed me to obtain additional resources to hold outside stalls, insurances and promotion of the event.

“As a young 20-year-old with a passion for recycling and upcycling, I hoped to start a business for my recycled products, and markets seemed to be the best options to start.

“[But] I checked all the markets around Newcastle, only to discover the costs required for insurances and registration on top of marquees and tables etc was inhibiting.

“This opened my eyes to a gap in the market, so I wanted to create a market which catered to youth like myself, allowing them the opportunity to promote and sell their products without all the costs.

“I partnered with the Hunter Multicultural Community Centre, which offered free inside venue hire and use of table and chairs, taking away the costs involved with having a stall.”

Support has also been the key for many of Asha’s stallholders.

“Hunter Futurepreneurs is offering business training free for all stall holders and views this type of initiative as a great opportunity for young people to gain business skills and create a pathway to job creation,” she said.

Captain Cupcake is one of those stall holders.

“I started baking cupcakes because they are so good, simple and yummy,” James said.

“I’m nervous about my first market because I have never been to this market before. The Hunter Futurepreneurs team introduced me to the markets.

“I hope that people enjoy my cupcakes and I hope I can advertise them so more people want to try them. I also would like to see if making cupcakes can be like an enjoyable way to make a profit too.”

Hunter Futurepreneurs’ Entrepreneur Facilitator, Cheryl Royle, encourages youth to seek out their own business path.

“My role is to help youth identify if there’s an opportunity to build their own business and help create awareness,” she said.

“This will be James’ first opportunity to launch Captain Cupcake and hopefully he’ll learn a lot from the experience and it will set him up for his own career path.”

The Christmas Youth Market will be held at Hunter Multicultural Community Hall in Waratah on Saturday 5 December.

Local youth will be showcasing handmade products such as scrunchies, artwork, jewellery, food and live music from 1pm to 5pm.

Entry is free and cash is encouraged.

*Surname withheld for privacy reasons.

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