ACCOKEEK, MARYLAND - Like many people, Bree Britt dreamed of starting her own business. But unlike many people, the 16-year-old didn’t wait till she grew up to become an entrepreneur. She’s already launched her own business.
Bree may not have the experience, but she seems to have more than enough enthusiasm and support.
For Bree, nothing is more enjoyable, soothing and fulfilling than working in the kitchen; measuring the ingredients, mixing the dough, preparing all kinds of desserts; cakes, cupcakes, cookies and fruit dipping sauce.
“I can be in the worst of moods and once I get started baking, just something turns on where I’m just in my whole other world. I’m just calm,” she said.
In the kitchen, she says, she can be innovative and creative.
“That is my outlet, my way of expression. I like to compare myself to an artist. A painter has their canvas. I’m a baker, so of course my cupcakes, cookies and all my sweet desserts are my canvas,” she said.
Bree started cooking with her great-grandmother when she was five years old.
“I can remember numerous times where I went to my grandmother's house [where her great-grandmother lives] and one of our favorite activities was baking together," she said. "She would show me how to do it, to the point where when I turned six, I was doing most of it on my own, with the exception of putting it in the oven and taking it out.”
Bree perfected her great-grandmother’s recipes, and came up with her own. And everyone in the family loved her creations.
“I was also making desserts for my aunts' and uncles' office parties and gatherings, family gatherings and things of that sort,” she said.
When she was 12, she told her mother she wanted to open a bakery but did not get the response she had hoped for.
“[My mother] told me to really think about the sacrifices and the things I would have to go through, that I wasn’t going to be just a normal teenager or a normal kid anymore," Bree said. "She told me to really think about it. And I thought about it and I told her I wanted to do this.”
Bree’s mother, Charmaine Britt, thought it was just a fad but did in the end offer support.
“I thought it was going to fly by night, something that she would get tired of eventually once she saw how much work it would be," she said. "So my idea was - we would start online; you can bake and I'll deliver on weekends.”
Charmaine Britt says the online bakery made enough money that she decided to become her daughter's business partner. They rented a shop and opened Bree’s Sweet Treats. Charmaine runs the store during the day until Bree gets out of school.
Leo Harrington, a neighborhood barbershop owner, comes almost every day.
“Most of my clients really accuse me of causing this addiction for them coming down here. Bree’s cupcakes are different. They aren’t just like regular cupcakes. The flavor, she has great assortments,” says Harrington.
He says he admires Bree’s work ethic and what she’s accomplished.
“I watch her diligence; school, then here, baking all evening and getting ready for the next day. I've watched her since she started, she hasn't missed a step. She's been consistent,” says Harrington.
It's challenging, but Bree says studying and running a business taught her how to better manage her time.
“It taught me hard work and responsibility. It has also taught me to be more aware of people, and when they come into the store, [to be] more friendly. It's taught me a lot.”
Charmaine Britt says, whether it’s vanilla or chocolate, key lime or strawberry, there is a secret behind Bree’s recipes.
“She found a way not to cook with a lot of sugar. Her cakes and cupcakes are made, are flavored with fresh fruits or more of the extracts, more so than the sugar,” she said.
Lillie Waller, Bree’s great-grandmother is delighted with her success and she keeps encouraging her.
“Be patient. It's hard work, cooking and baking. Keep trying and do whatever [you want] to do with baking. Be a good baker,” Waller tells her great-granddaughter.
And that's exactly what Bree is doing - creating new recipes and learning more about being both baker and business owner... and enjoying the sweet taste of success.