(originally published February 2011)
The Jewish Herald-Voice is spotlighting Jewish entrepreneurial women each month. Nominate a mom, sister, daughter, aunt, grandmother, friend or associate who is a Jewish woman business owner in the greater Houston area. Email nominations (including name, business and contact info) to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Just walking into one of the Dessert Gallery locations, you immediately notice the sweet aroma in the air. The sweetness, you might think, is from the pastry. But, in reality, it’s from the founder, Sara Brook.
Brook left Houston to attend college at UT, only to find herself back in Houston, baking up a storm. With no formal business training, she became self-reliant and resilient. Fear and planning were not ingredients when Brook thought about starting her business in her parents’ kitchen. It may have been the Girl Scout cookie sales, or possibly the Easy Bake Oven set Brook played with as a child, that led her into the world of desserts. Out of the family kitchen, she created a nationally marketed chocolate sauce. As a young adult, Brook’s baking took on its own life. With multiple Houston retail locations and Internet sales, customers’ enjoyment is only moments away.
Growing up in Houston, Brook learned about the essence of Judaism: family, community and volunteerism. She relished her involvement in BBYO and watching her parents’ work at Congregation Emanu El (mother Davna, as Sisterhood president, and father, Eddie Brook, the temple president).
The women in Brook’s family were strong, loving and courageous. The entrepreneur attributes much of her success to those values. The multigenerational picture, proudly displayed in the corporate office, shows it best: her grandmother, Florence Blum, her mother, Davna, and her daughter, Jennifer. Ironically for the baker, her father, a staunch supporter of her ventures, is a dentist. Her early memories of her grandmother, Mammaw, celebrating the Jewish holidays at home, directly impacted Brook’s career. Mammaw loved bringing people together and Brook’s desserts helped her follow in that path.
As a self-defined, “old-fashioned mother,” Brook never factored in the complications of being both a single mother and a business owner. But, Brook has an absolute faith that things always work out the way they are supposed to. This belief has helped her in the most challenging of situations. “Things are always less frightening than they really are,” she said. Brook’s daughter lives with this “no fear” approach, traveling around the world, seeking new adventures. The limitlessness that Brook exudes is empowering. Brook clears paths, enabling all that she encounters to have bigger dreams. Who knew that you could get all this from an éclair?
Dessert Gallery has welcomed more than 60 employees, many of whom are displaced refugees from war-torn countries. As an advocate for the YMCA Refugee Resettlement program, the Dessert Gallery found a common language: caring. Dessert Gallery looks like a business, but after closer inspection, it’s really a family. Touching peoples’ lives, creating a sense of safety, allowing people to grow and prosper: This is what Brook’s business plan really reads.
Dessert Gallery’s future is focusing on creating delicious treats that are safe to our bodies and our planet. Using both eco-friendly packaging, coupled with body-friendly ingredients, devoid of chemicals and hormone-based ingredients, Dessert Gallery’s growth and success are inevitable.
It is said, “You are what you eat,” but at The Dessert Gallery, “You are what you bake.” Sara Brook is One Smart Cookie.