Warren Brown, former host of Food Network’s "Sugar Rush" and a lawyer turned entrepreneurial baker, shared his journey to becoming successful with ISU students.
Brown stressed the importance he believes lies in “uncovering or unlocking [your passion].”
After being unsatisfied with his job as an attorney, Brown decided to try something new; find a career path that would be more fulfilling. He urged students to do the same and to live by a mantra.
“Direct yourself to greatness. Answer to your call. Answer to yourself,” Brown said.
What started as a New Year’s resolution to become a more outgoing person —and to simply learn how to bake — in 1999 turned into a hiatus from his job as an attorney, said Brown.
“Food is very meaningful,” Brown said. “I want to make something that’s three-dimensional.”
Brown began to teach himself how to bake a variety of sweets before focusing on cake.
“Cake spoke to me because I thought of this bakery from when I was a kid,” Brown said.
The nostalgia factor inspired him to become an expert on cake.
Brown said cake is also an easy-to-market product used for weddings and birthdays, and is not as temperamental as other baked goods.
Brown’s small business gained ground once a reporter for the Washington Post wrote an expose on his internal battle as to whether or not to pursue baking full-time.
After publication, the article generated a multitude of interested customers, starting Brown’s baking career.
In March 2002, Brown opened CakeLove, the first of six stores in the Washington, D.C. area.
Meanwhile, the media continued to give attention to Brown’s business. Eventually, he landed an interview with Oprah Winfrey.
“I found something soul-satisfying,” Brown said.
With the growth of CakeLove and the growing popularity of his cook books, Brown still stresses the importance of pursuing his passion, tweaking recipes and product ideas.
Despite the recent fixation on the appearance of cakes brought on by popular shows like Cake Boss and Cupcake Wars, Brown’s business is not concerned as much with the outward appearance of their cakes. Instead, they focus on the cake itself.
“We recognize that dessert is going to have sugar and fat, but we try to make sure that the quality [of the ingredients] is there,” Brown said.
Brown emphasized the need to follow a passion and make a career fulfilling. He believes that entrepreneurs must not let their fears dictate their career paths.
ISU students and potential entrepreneurs attended the event which took place Feb. 18 in the Memorial Union and was sponsored by many ISU student organizations including Cake Club, Black Graduate Students Association and the College of Human Sciences.
“Risks happen; bad things happen,” Brown said. “Working in a business that somehow speaks to you in your heart …that’s most important.”