We are thrilled to be connecting with Sara Brook again. Sara is a Founder, CEO and is also a content partner. Content partners help Voyage in so many ways from spreading the word about the work that we do, sponsoring our mission and collaborating with us on content like this. Check out our conversation with Sara below.
Hi Sara, thank you so much for sitting down with us again. For folks who might have missed our initial interview, can you start by briefly introducing yourself?
My name is Sara Brook and I am the founder & CEO of Houston-based bakery Dessert Gallery Bakery & Cafe. For over 25 years, I’ve had the great pleasure of creating delicious desserts for the wonderful Houston community and I’ve loved every minute of it. Giving back is at the heart of everything I do and I am really passionate about being a constant presence in my community and making sure everyone knows that Dessert Gallery loves and celebrates ALL! Outside of work, I love testing out fun, new dessert recipes and spending time with my daughter, Jennifer.
We all know that entrepreneurship is an ever-evolving role and passion and there are new lessons to learn no matter how seasoned a veteran you are. What’s a recent lesson you learned about owning/operating a business or your specific industry since the last time we spoke?
I learned how to operate a business and stay relevant during a worldwide pandemic, which lasted over a year. I learned to breathe deeply, have faith that everything will be okay and that I could still find a million new things to be excited about after 38 years in business!
As a business owner, cultivating an effective and efficient work environment is its own feat that doesn’t end with just hiring the right people but involves ongoing professional development. What are some programs or policies you have in place to ensure your workplace is conducive to growth?
The past handful of holiday seasons had our production facility bursting at the seams, but I knew that a few busy periods in the course of a year weren’t enough to justify expanding the kitchen. I was aware that I had plenty of capacity where I was—I just had to learn to work smarter, not harder. So, we decided to embark on a company-wide adventure to learn about a new method of production, which required rearranging our existing plant. We’ve held weekend study sessions in both English and Spanish where we’ve learned how to reevaluate our processes and think about them in a whole new light. It’s been incredibly exciting and gratifying to experience this process with all 30 people involved in production and watching the light bulbs in everyone’s head going off all over the place is especially rewarding! I’m pretty confident we’ll be able to double our output in the next few months. Instead of being terrified, we’re all pretty giddy at the challenge ahead because we’re all in this together.
You were recently awarded the Outstanding Diversity Champion Award from the Houston Business Journal. Congratulations! Can you share with us what winning this award meant to you and how you champion diversity through your work?
I have been blessed to work with some of the most incredible people in the course of my career. Funnily enough, before I started my first bakery, I was thinking about becoming a lawyer. Before that, I even thought I might work for IBM since I was a Cooperative Engineer at the IBM San Jose plant during my junior year of college. It’s great to work around smart people with whom you have a lot in common and my past jobs were filled with people like this. However, in my entrepreneurial career, I’ve been blessed to meet people who are smart and worldly in a whole different way than I had ever experienced. When I have the opportunity to work side by side with someone who escaped a war with nothing but the shirt on their back and who came to this country and thrived, I’m the lucky one. When I meet people who are the first in their family to attend college or someone who feels acceptance at work for who they are without regard for their gender identity, race or religion, I feel good about that. My life has certainly been enriched for the better because I’ve had the pleasure of meeting such amazing people and I hope they feel the same about meeting me. It’s incredibly humbling and gratifying to create a space where love is on the menu and is served up so beautifully by such an array of diverse and phenomenal people.
Alongside your passion for creating an equitable and diverse workplace, you’re also known for being an active member of your community. Is there anyone in your life that instilled the value of giving back in you and if so, how?
Giving back was instilled in me from the time I was a little girl. My grandparents, parents and other family members were all very active in the community and served on many boards and committees. My family has taught, led and inspired untold numbers of people in their lives. I just try to do my little part, and I hope I make them proud and honor their memories by carrying the torch to a new generation.
Wow, what a story! We’re so happy you were able to join us today but here’s one last question before we go: what is one of your unpopular baking or dessert-related opinions that might shock other bakers or customers?
I freeze my desserts. I have done it that way since I was a little girl. It just always made sense to me—it “sets” the icing and the layers. I use this method whether I’m baking at work or at home. There’s no way I could transport a truck full of cakes that had never been frozen and have them arrive in good condition at the cafe.
Thank you so much again for sharing all of this with us. Before we go, can you share with our readers how they can connect with you, learn more or show support?
Readers can visit us:
Facebook: Dessert Gallery Bakery & Cafe
- Website: www.dessertgallery.com
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DessertGallery
- Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/dessert-gallery-bakery-&-cafe/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/DessertGallery
- Yelp: https://www.yelp.com/biz/dessert-gallery-bakery-and-cafe-houston-2
Dessert Gallery Bakery & Cafe