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Exploring Life & Business with Brian Duong of Brian’s Bitchin’ Bakery

Today we’d like to introduce you to Brian Duong.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
Growing up, my mindset constantly changed on what I wanted to be. There were times I wanted to be an actor on SNL, a teacher, and a professional violinist. And some parts of me still think in an alternate universe I probably am living in one of those professions. One thing I was certain of was my desire to make people’s lives a bit brighter. I think that’s where my love of food came in.

I grew up watching Food Network and culinary competitions with almost every meal I ate. One day, my mom wanted me to eat healthier and didn’t buy the fried macaroni cheese balls I wanted. I got so hangry that instead of throwing a fit, I tried to teach myself how to cook. After a while, I eventually started baking because I also craved sweets. At the time, I didn’t care if it looked good so long as it tasted good. It wasn’t until undergrad that I began to question my life purpose since I still had not found something I wanted to pursue as a profession. I slowly began to go into a bout of depression during which I began to use baking as a creative outlet. I remember I baked something new almost everyday and began sharing it with friends and family who playfully told me, “if you ever open a cafe or restaurant, you need to sell this.”

Fast Forward to my veterinary school journey. The short story of it is: my dog got into a fight with our neighbor’s dog which then led me to realize how much my vet meant to me. I had never felt so passionate about someone who impacted my life in such a positive light that I wanted to do the same for others. After years of working as a veterinary technician, fulfilling required courses, and being part of a pre-veterinary student-led organization, I got into vet school! It was during the pandemic so naturally, all the courses were online. So when I noticed a local plant market was looking for vendors, something inside me told me to just go for it and have some fun. And that’s really how Brian’s Bitchin’ Bakery, BBB, started.

Originally, the name was going to just be “Brian’s Baked Goods.” But the day before the market, my friends and I thought about adding the word “bitch” because that’s one of my favorite words. The market coordinator was really cool and approved of the name and the rest is history. So while classes were online, I did BBB not really as a side hustle, but to share with others something I’m extremely passionate about.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
I’d like to think it was smooth? In reality, it probably hasn’t been haha. There have been times where markets have been canceled and I had already prepared/baked all my products so I had to come up with a new way to make sure everything didn’t go to waste. In those situations, we held a drive-by pick up at a house and made sure the set up was cute when someone picked up their order. There’s been a few times where a bake didn’t go right for a certain cookie flavor that people already pre-ordered so I had to contact every single person, apologize, and offer two cookies of a different flavor in replacement of that one.

I think the biggest struggle was when I felt like I was just getting my footing with the bakery and had a good and consistent following where I had to put it all to a stop because of vet school. In March of 2021, my classmates and I got word that classes were going to start being hybrid (both in person and online). And since school was in the Caribbean, that meant the bakery had to be put on pause for a while. It broke my heart. I actually cried a few times (ok a lot of times) because I had become so passionate about sharing what I love to do that I didn’t want to say “goodbye” for now. Connecting with so many people and other small businesses was so special and it sucked to put it on pause for who knew how long.

But I guess everything worked out in the end because my mental health went downhill while attending that program. I knew if I wanted to be successful, I needed to be in an environment that supported me rather than blame me for not meeting expectations. So after a year of vet school, I decided to withdraw and reapply to different vet schools. And since I have a lot more time on my hands, Brian’s Bitchin’ Bakery is back!

We’ve been impressed with Brian’s Bitchin’ Bakery, but for folks who might not be as familiar, what can you share with them about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Brian’s Bitchin’ Bakery is a queer and poc owned small business that specializes in boba inspired cookies and other baked goods. For the boba inspired cookies, I infuse the tea flavors we see in tapioca shops into cookies (and if you’re wondering, no they don’t have boba in them). Some of the cookie flavors I offer are Vietnamese Coffee and Chocolate, Thai Tea, and Earl Grey Lavender and Blueberry. Additionally, non-boba flavor-related cookies such as chocolate chip, raspberry white chocolate, and biscoff are also available. Thankfully, I’ve had more time to experiment with recipes so I’ve been able to start serving Thai Tea Tiramisu aka Thai Teamisu and Ube Coconut Rolls.

I feel like what sets me apart when people first find out about BBB are the boba inspired cookies. That idea came about when my boyfriend and I were planning on what to have for the dessert portion of our meal prep. I was craving boba while he was craving cookies. He then smiled at me with the biggest grin and said, “why don’t you make boba cookies?” So truth be told, this all started because of him, haha. I love you babe <3

In addition to the boba inspired cookies, I try to be who I am at all times. Whether it’s greeting people by calling them bitch or dancing while I wait for them to choose what they’d like to buy, I do my best to show that behind the face mask, I’m just a weird dude who likes to bake.

The thing I’m most proud of brand wise is the Bitchin’ in my business name. I’m so lucky to be able to still be taken seriously during business inquiries and when I apply to markets who then LET me be a part of their event. Also, coming up with the slogan, “Vet Student By Day, Stress Baker By Night” makes me happy when I see people say that out loud and smile or laugh when they first meet me.

Everything is made with natural ingredients (meaning real teas, no extracts) and the cookie flavors go through many trials and errors before they become part of the menu. Additionally, I do my best to be eco-friendly with all my packaging and give back to the community when I can! I’ve been lucky enough to raise money for The Trevor Project, The Beacon, The Women’s Home, and other organizations! Andddd because there’s so much I want to explore culinarily, the menu will continue to change and rotate! I currently serve as a vendor in local farmer’s markets and pop ups. However, I do cater for large orders for events such as weddings, birthdays, and holidays! So if anyone is interested, they can check on my social media to see how to order via the link in my bio and also catch me at my next event!

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
To anyone who’s ever bought a product or given me support in any kind of way, know that I’m so grateful for you. I truly cannot express how thankful I am to have the opportunity to continue to share what I love because of your support. Whether it was your feedback that let me know if something was great or needed tweaking, it helped shape me to become a better baker and business owner. To my parents, thank you for supporting this crazy dream of mine I sporadically began to chase. Know that every time I see you come out to almost every one of my markets/pop ups means the world to me and my heart cannot be more full. To my friends and family, I love you so much. You’ve stayed awake till 4 or 5am countless times to help me prepare for markets and hype me up when I don’t believe in myself and I’m eternally grateful for you. No team is as bitchin’ as mine.

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Image Credits:

Maritere Rice Mel Gonzales

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