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These Maryland Sisters Went From A Government Shutdown To Signing A Deal With Walmart

By DeAnna Taylor

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Earlier this year, many Americans found themselves in a tight place when the government shut down temporarily. While some were lucky enough to receive payment from their government jobs, others were not.

That was the case for sisters, Nikki Howard, and Jaqi Wright who both held federal jobs. The Oxen Hill, Maryland natives quickly sprung into action to ensure that their bills were paid. They started their own business, which was appropriately named ‘Furlough Cheesecake.’

Since January, their business has quickly taken off. So much so, they even landed an appearance on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” to spread the word to an even larger audience.

From there, two other powerful Black boss babes stepped in to propel the sisters even higher. Mahisha Dellinger, founder of the organic hair-care line CURLS reached out to the women and put them in contact with Kinna Thomas, a senior buying manager for cakes and pies at Walmart.

“We got a phone call from Mahisha Dellinger, who wanted to mentor us in the beginning stages of our business and be there for us anytime we needed some advice or guidance,” Nikki Howard told HuffPost.

That same call led to a separate surprise call from Thomas.


“For us to have an opportunity to speak with Kinna and then be invited to Walmart for them to taste our cheesecakes, that was amazing.”

Furloughed Cheesecakes will make their way into Walmarts across D.C., Maryland, and Virginia starting August 18. They are available in two flavors: original and sweet potato.

The sisters have since quit their government jobs to focus on the business full-time.

As for other aspiring business owners out there looking to step out in faith and start their own thing, Nikki had this piece of advice: “Don’t be afraid to take a leap of faith.” “Fear could have kept us waiting for the government to make up their mind about our pay, but when we realized that we had something special, we decided to just go for it. At some point, you just have to step out and believe in yourself.”

Related: Meet The Black Man Behind The Northwest’s Only Hip Hop Winery

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DeAnna Taylor

DeAnna Taylor is a criminal defense Attorney turned travel writer. The Charlotte native recently completed one year abroad working as an English teacher in South Korea. Her hobbies include fitness, traveling to new countries, and trying new foods.

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