From Passion to Business
Updated: Nov 7, 2022
Hello and Welcome to my little corner of the internet! My name is Jennifer Brooks and I am the Creator and Owner of Twelve 28 Bakery located in beautiful South Central Texas. I have been in the kitchen since I was a kid and in the last decade or so decided to pursue my dream of owning my own bakery. It wasn't until recently that I learned that my Grandfather was a Pastry Chef! I have an Aunt and an Uncle that are excellent bakers but just never wanted to go the professional route, which I respect, so I decided to learn from them. Along with that, I took to YouTube to learn new techniques, recipes and trends. To say I learned the hard way, would be an understatement. Ha! I can't even begin to count how many bags of powdered sugar and melted marshmallows I went through trying to make my own fondant! Eeek, never again. I've tried the 'side hustle' a few times and learned A LOT along the way.
The first time I sold a cake, it was for my nephew and I charged my sister-in-law twenty-five whole dollars for it. It makes me laugh, not only at the super cheap rate I gave her, but at the fact that she PAID it! When I look at the photo of this cake, I cringe. At first, I was so embarrassed, but now, I embrace the experience. THAT exchange taught me so much! First, being that my sister-in-law loved me enough to encourage my learning by giving me the opportunity to make an order. Second, I learned what NOT to do in terms of frosting, style, decorating, etc. Fail forward, right?
David Goggins says it best: "I don't see failure, I see grit, determination, drive, sacrifice. Failure means you're trying." Man, I wish I heard those words 12 years ago! While this cake isn't my best work, it serves as motivation for me today. I see this and think, "I tried." I tried and I did pretty good for a girl who had no formal training, no fancy tools, a small kitchen and a full time job. I kept learning. I kept practicing. I kept failing. I've had cakes fall apart because I didn't cool them all the way. I've had cakes fall apart because I didn't put in support straws. I've been embarassed more than once but each time, after I dry the tears, I declare to myself, I won't let this happen again. I know what I did wrong. And I push forward.
I slowly got better. Pictured at left, is the 3rd order my sister in law placed with me and this was a turning point for me. I remember turning on the soundtrack to The Little Mermaid and just putting my head down to make all of these little embellishments. When I watched this come to life, I was so incredibly proud of myself! This is when the tide shifted. This is when I embraced my shortcomings and knew that I was on the right track!
Twelve 28 and beyond
As my confidence grew, I decided to put myself out there for new customers. Let's see if I can make this a business. I started LKO Creations in my kitchen and began to advertise to my Facebook friends. Business was slow, but also validating. I learned more and more and even began learning at The Art Institutes' International Culinary School. My technique and form was changing but I got frustrated with the financial side. I was undercharging and practically paying customers to hire me. I had no real belief in my worth or value and tried to compete with the big box stores. Let's be honest, big stores that can sell cakes for $25 bucks are selling something made by a machine and pulled from a box. I am a real person, taking my time to create something beautiful and delicious, but I couldn't bear the thought of charging more. Going into 2020, I was burnt out. I couldn't keep taking on the stress of creating Pinterest-worthy desserts, just to barely cover my cost, so I archived my business page and closed the book on moving forward. Maybe this wasn't the path for me. Fast forward to the fall of 2020, I was a newlywed living in a new small town. My new bonus daughter is special needs, and my two girls were in a new environment completely. After talking with my husband, I made the decision to leave my full-time job in Oil & Gas and be a Stay-At-Home-Mom so I could be closer to the kids during the day. After only a couple of weeks, I was bored. Again, I found myself looking for purpose. I missed baking, so I got back in the kitchen. Many years back, I had a vision that LKO Creations would become this cozy bakery and I would eventually open a sleek, sexy dessert bar and call it Twelve 28 Dessert Bar. With this new chapter of my life, I felt like maybe Twelve 28 was supposed to be the cozy bakery all along, so I prayed about it and got to work. Almost overnight, the logo, the font, the aesthetic, all came together. God has had His hand in every detail. December 28th being my daughter's birthday, the font that I found called 'Laila', the design coming together almost seamlessly...how could I deny it? Today, we are still evolving and I learn something new everyday with every cake design and dessert that leaves my kitchen, I am proud. I refuse to quit. I refuse to back down. Most of all, I choose to show my kids that the God sized dream in your heart is worth the blood, sweat and tears it takes to pursue it. He will never lead you where He won't meet you and that if He sets it in motion, nothing can stop it!
Thank you for being here. Thank you for taking the time to read my story. I don't know what lie ahead for us but I know it is going to be a beautiful journey. Don't give up on your dreams!