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Nikki Howard & Jaqi Wright

2019 Speaker
Nikki Howard and Jaqi Wright

NIKKI HOWARD & JAQI WRIGHT are co-founders of The Furlough Cheesecake. The company was born during the longest federal government shutdown in history, which began days before Christmas 2018. Biological sisters Nikki Thompson Howard and Jaqi Thompson Wright found themselves along with over 800,000 federal employees and contractors without a paycheck during the holidays. They started by making homemade sweet potato cheesecakes for a New Year’s Eve church service, and soon began selling them to supplement their incomes. After a family effort to spread the word on social media, and an email to a local news station, Howard and Wright quickly gained media attention around the Washington, DC area. Soon, The Furlough Cheesecake sisters were invited to CNN to share how the government shutdown was impacting their lives. Their inspiring story also caught the attention of celebrities like Ellen DeGeneres and OWN’s Mind Your Business host Mahisha Dellinger. Since January 2019, The Furlough Cheesecake has received over five thousand cheesecake orders from customers all over the country and is slated to hit the shelves of almost one hundred Walmart stores in September 2019. @thefurloughcake