February is black history month. Black history month has been celebrated every February since 1915; 50 years after slavery was abolished. The whole idea behind the month is to honor the achievements that African Americans have accomplished throughout United States history. Other countries like Canada and the UK have followed suite, making February a month to step back and reflect on the incredible accomplishment that African Americans have contributed to society.
The American dream is so important to Kizito’s identity. We felt that Black History month and the American dream go hand in hand, so we thought we would reflect and share.
When Elizabeth moved to the US, she realized very quickly what many African Americans did before. Here in the US, anything is possible if you work hard for what you believe in. From the famous past African American examples like Harriet Tubman, Jackie Robinson, and even Michael Jordan; to just your average guy. These people desired to be successful leaders in their community, and learned not take no for an answer. We adore that at Kizito Cookies because that is exactly how we made it to where we are now. It is crazy to think that we started from a make shift bar cart to where we are today. With every “you can’t do this,” from a select few and encouragement from old and new friends made during our journey, we fought to succeed the American dream, and guess what…we did! Come see us on Bardstown Road! We would love to share our african art, stories, and our cookies with you.
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Valentine’s Day is just around the corner! Some people love it and some people down right hate it, but the holiday is huge for retail businesses. Valentine’s day ranks 3rd in highest spending amongst the holidays, with people buying chocolate, flowers, and dinner for their special someone. It is estimated that 1 billion Valentine’s day cards are sent every year, 35 million heart shaped chocolate boxes are sold, and 220 million roses are sold. Obviously, those things are great, but at Kizito we totally suggest buying our cookies and baked goods for Valentines day. We were curious as to where this holiday got it’s traditions, so we did a little digging.
Valentines day has a unclear history. It is thought to originally have started as a pagan festival, in present day Greece. In an effort to Christianize the holiday, Pope Gelasius declared St. Valentines day on February 14th.
There have been many Saint Valentines, but during the time of Claudius III’s reign in Rome is said to be the Saint Valentine that the holiday is named after.
The armies of Rome were known to be ruthless conquers, during the reign of Claudius III. In an attempt to make sure his soldiers were fully focused on their duties and nothing else, Claudius banned marriage altogether. The reason for this being, Claudius thought that single men would make better soldiers. St. Valentine started to secretly marry young couples. Hints his name being associated with a holiday that celebrates love. Soon after, Claudius III found out what St. Valentine’s was doing and had him sentences to death.
As St. Valentine lived out his final days, young couples who were secretly wed by him would visit his cell. They would leave him notes and flowers, to show their thanks for what he did for them. During St. Valentine’s his last days he fell in love with his jailers daughter leaving her a note that ended in “your Valentine” starting a tradition that still exist today.
Even though Pope Gelasius declared St. Valentine’s day was to be celebrated on February 14th to honor St. Valentine, but the day was never associated with love and romance till the 1300s. Valentine’s cards first appeared in Europe in the 15th century. By the 17th century the tradition of card giving was a part of British culture and soon caught on in the US. Today St. Valentine’s story is often forgotten, but his legacy of fighting for love lives on through the holiday. However you celebrate this special holiday, The Cookie Lady wishes you a very happy Valentine’s day!
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Kizito Cookies is located at 1398 Bardstown Rd in Louisville, Kentucky’s Highlands Neighborhood, but it wasn't always located there. In fact Kizito started thousands of miles away from Louisville by a woman named Elizabeth Kizito. Elizabeth was born in Nansana, a small village in Uganda. It was there where she learned the value of hard work and courage from her parents. Seeing these characteristics from her parents taught her at a young age what it takes to make dreams happen, even if things were hard at times. Elizabeth’s parents are a huge part of her “American Dream” story.
Elizabeth was first introduced to the cookie by a co-worker when she first moved to Louisville from Africa. She accounts this moment as a very important one. She says, “that is where the obsession began. Almost immediately after having my first cookie, I had to learn the recipe so I could make more cookies for myself.” Once she started baking cookies, she would bring them in to work to share with her co-workers and after some time her co-workers suggested that she sell the cookies to them, as well as other people, and businesses downtown.
Not knowing the first thing about starting a business scared Elizabeth, but that did not stop her. Elizabeth noticed something about the United States that was different from Africa, and that was if she worked hard and had courage like her parents taught her, she could do anything she put her mind to. So with that realization, Elizabeth went for it! With help from some friends, Elizabeth started baking her delicious cookies at a friends pizza shop, and turned a small bar cart into her street vending Kizito Cookie Shop. Little by little Elizabeth started to build an amazing following as she set up shop all around downtown Louisville with her five year old son by her side. As time passed she came affectionately known throughout Louisville as the “Cookie Lady.”
It wasn’t until Elizabeth’s mother visited from Uganda that she started to think about moving into an actual bakery. She says her mother, knowing little English, says there is a store front empty down the street that is where you should put your new shop. Of course it wasn't as easy as her mother made it sound, but Elizabeth knew that if she was going to move into here own bakery she was going to have to get loans. This was something that she knew would be hard for her to get. Thankfully, her landlord at the time was nice enough to co-sign the loan for her as long as the bakery was up and running in 6 months. That was a pretty daunting task for Elizabeth and her husband, but cookie by cookie, little by little, they got the money to do the renovations needed to open their new bakery in the Highlands!
Through the decades Kizito Cookies has grown into a famous, local bakery. Elizabeth is known as the “Cookie Lady” through out Louisville, and at Slugger Field she is the “Cookie Lady that carries a basket full of cookies on her head.” That is another story for another time. Kizito has been a huge success story, but without the friends she’s made along the way, the lessons she learned from her family, and a dream, it wouldn't have been possible.
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My Mama, Yulian Kizza, died a couple years ago. I want to tell her story so you know that Mother's Day is EVERY day for me! Yulian had her education cut short at 16 to raise a family. But she never stopped learning. Though married to a powerful man, she insisted that her daughters get the education she was denied. Her wisdom and dignity commanded that kind of respect. She was born poor, became wealthy, lost it all - literally. Home gone, money gone, family scattered, imprisoned, dead. She held the threads of my family together and when she died, she left us whole again. She walked with me down a street in a strange country, where she didn't speak the language and said, "This is the place to open your bakery." And so I did.
Webale nyo nyabo. Thank You, Mama I love you.
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