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QCC Alumna Entrepreneur Makes It Hard to Keep Your New Year’s Resolution

January 2022
  • QCC alumna Hayleigh Noél is the owner of Doughnut Homies.
    QCC alumna Hayleigh Noél is the owner of Doughnut Homies.

We would never encourage anyone to break their New Year’s resolution of healthy eating, but if you do need a cheat day we have found the perfect place to do it: Doughnut Homies, the handmade doughnut shop run by QCC alumna Hayleigh Noél. Housed in the Worcester Public Market, these specialty doughnuts come in creative flavors such as strawberry shortcake and choco de leche. Doughnut Homies has an extremely dedicated following and it is already expanding to a second location. 

Hayleigh is a Worcester native; however, it was when she lived in Los Angeles (L.A.) that she began to notice that doughnut shops were everywhere.

“I was always taking pictures of the doughnut cases. I got so much inspiration!” she said.

In early 2020, Hayleigh was back in Worcester for what was supposed to be a temporary visit. COVID hit, and her plans of returning to the west coast were put on hold. Instead of sitting idly by, she sprang into action and started making her own doughnuts, inspired by what she saw in L.A.

 “It’s so fun…decorating and making crazy flavors,” she said.

Thanks to her large social media following, her doughnut idea blew up within a month. She began selling so many doughnuts that by September, she had secured a spot in the Worcester Public Market. She has been selling out of her delicious creations ever since.

Her path to entrepreneurship was a bit circuitous. A hardworking high school student trying to pick a career path, she was inspired to pursue some type of higher education thanks to her mother, who happens to have a Ph.D. She eventually decided on an Associate Degree in Criminal Justice at QCC, initially thinking she might go into law and QCC seemed like an obvious choice. 

While she didn’t end up pursuing criminal justice after she graduated, Hayleigh said her time at QCC was invaluable. She loved the personal connections she made with her professors (shout out to Criminal Justice Professor Kristy Glover) and could tell they truly cared about their students. The culture at QCC was also important and added to her confidence, which helped when she eventually opened her own business.

“It was very community-based and that was a powerful thing,” she added.

Community is a big part of Hayleigh’s life and one of the reasons she chose to attend QCC and why she feels she has done so well.

“I’ve gotten so much support from my hometown,” she said.

Of course, starting a business can come with challenges. Hayleigh started Doughnut Homies out of pocket and has had to learn as she goes. “I’m a people pleaser so it’s hard,” she said, especially when she gets the occasional criticism from people who aren’t used to seeing a young business owner.

She said advice and hands-on help from other small businesses such as local restaurant Nuestra have been a huge help. And her loyal customers make all the difference.

“I close for a day and they have my head! People make it a point to come every day. They look forward to these doughnuts. That means so much to me,” she said.

Her second location is scheduled to open in March at the Midtown Mall, where customers will be able to get creative with toppings and flavors at a make-your-own doughnut bar. 

Hayleigh said it is important for her to share her success with other young people, and is constantly doing interviews and podcasts, detailing the ins and outs of running a business.

People are often telling her that she inspired them to start something new and for her, it’s one of the best perks of the journey. Her advice to people considering starting their own businesses is sound advice, whether they are starting a business or going to college.

“Don’t let your inexperience or your fears stop you. Put your foot in the door and see where it takes you.”