Breana and Charmaine Britt (Photo: Courtesy of Breana Britt)
We all know it’s important to encourage children’s interests. But Maryland mom Charmaine Britt took support to a whole new level when she gave her daughter Breana Britt the green light to start her own baking business nearly five years ago — when “Bree” was just 12 years old. “She kept asking me and trying to convince me, so I finally said, ‘Well, you can start it online with you baking and me doing deliveries and we’ll see how it goes,’” Charmaine, 38, tells Yahoo Parenting.
Things went so well, the now 16-year-old’s Bree’s Sweet Treats has grown from a little Web cupcake-and-cookie business sparked by rave reviews of the confections Bree made for a cousin’s Sweet 16 back in 2011, to a brick-and-mortar bakery in Accokeek, Maryland in 2013, to a full-service bakery plus café that delivers to the entire Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia metropolitan area as well as ships online orders nationwide last month.
“She makes great baked goods so I just thought it could be a good way for her to earn a little cash and help her become financially responsible,” says Charmaine. “I never thought it would become this.”
Breana Britt (front) poses with friend Deija Crawford, Bree’s Sweet Treats savory foods chef Bre’a Mingo, and Charmaine Britt. (Photo: Courtesy of Breana Britt)
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Bree, on the other hand, tells Yahoo Parenting she never had any doubts. “I love doing this,” says the junior at St. Mary’s Ryken High School. “And I just think, if I’m doing something I love, I may as well make money.” Bree makes about $1,500 a month, in fact, working at her bakery three evenings a week after school and on Saturdays all day while mom, a former accounting clerk, helms the register during weekdays (with other family members pitching in) and manages the books.
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“When we opened the store I took some time and really thought, Is this what I want? Am I willing to give up a bit of time with friends for this?” Bree says. “And I was.” She admits there have been rough patches. “There have been times where we’ve been overwhelmed and gotten frustrated,” she says. “But I never regretted having this business. It’s been a part of me for so long.” Plus, her friends love it too. “They’re definitely supportive of me,” says the teen. “They’re always asking, ‘Can you bring us something?’”
Champagne Delight cupcakes (Photo: Courtesy of Breana Britt)
Charmaine says she tries to rein in the little mogul at times to make sure Bree keeps the work, schoolwork, and other activities in a healthy balance. “I have to tell her to take a day off,” marvels the mom, who also has an 8-year-old son and a 6-year-old daughter. “She’s really dedicated.”
The business, at its root, is a labor of love, explains the widow, who lost Breana’s father, Corey Britt, in 2013 after a long battle with a traumatic brain injury the Army soldier suffered during the Persian Gulf War. “Her dad always had entrepreneurial spirit and she gets that from him. He wanted us to have a family business so I think this is partly her way of honoring his memory.”
The mother-daughter duo is focused on the future now, and not just when it comes to Bree’s Sweet Treats. Breana plans to go away for college, ideally Louisiana State University or North Carolina State University, and has dreams of becoming a veterinarian. She’ll keep up the business, though, perhaps as a kiosk, they say, and later may look into expanding to include a line of baked goods for dogs.
“Sky’s the limit for this business,” Bree says. “And we’re taking every possible opportunity to expand. I’m really excited about the next chapter in my life. It’s going to be a good one.”
Charmaine is already thrilled with what her daughter has accomplished. “I’m really proud of her,” says the mom. “Over the years I’ve gotten a chance to see her mature and become a leader as far as the business is concerned and I’m so impressed with her dedication, especially for someone her age. To be a part of building something with her feels great: it’s been an amazing journey.”
Bree, age 12, when she began the bakery (Photo: Courtesy of Breana Britt)