Maker Profile: Erin Brown

Dolce Bakery is a sunny, inviting bakery filled with delicious, made-from-scratch confections. Owner Erin Brown opened her bakery in the heart of Prairie Village in 2007. Erin’s vision was straightforward: creating baked goods made with care and quality ingredients. Since then, people just can’t stay away from Dolce Bakery’s famous cinnamon rolls, enormous cookies, gorgeous cakes, and other treats. Erin shares about how she started out, the keys to her success, what’s on her bookshelf, and her favorite things to do when she’s not at the bakery.

 Erin Brown. All photos by Anna Petrow. 

Erin Brown. All photos by Anna Petrow. 

When did you start baking?
I started wrecking my mother’s kitchen when I was 7. Making something delicious out of raw ingredients amazes me and I love baking for people.

Who was the first person you remember baking for?
Outside of my family at home, birthday cakes/cookies with and for my school friends!

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What motivated you to open your original shop in 2007?
When I opened Dolce, there were only a couple of bakeries here in town.  I felt like the community needed me to be serving them in this way. We needed a place to go get delicious scratch baked cakes, cookies, cinnamon rolls, etc…that were made with care by people who care. Highest quality and consistency are primary.

Also my husband. I would have stayed in the wholesale kitchen I was renting for much longer if he had not pushed me to open Dolce. I was terrified and he knew I was ready.

What’s the best business advice you received when you were starting out?

1.     The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing. I constantly and carefully balance my vision/intention for Dolce with suggestions from others. I allow the business to grow in organic ways and try not to force things.

2.     Listen.

3.     Internally, we keep our goals in sharp focus and put people first…customers, team, vendors.  

4.     Think about my thinking.

5.     Give and receive support.

6.     Take time off.

7.     Hustle.

 

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Your bakery is in the heart of Prairie Village – though Kansas Citians will drive from all parts to visit Dolce! What’s one of the best things about the community you’re in?
This community is so loyal, supportive, and enthusiastic about what we are doing! 

They are enthusiastic! Have any of your customers inspired you to create a new recipe?
Oh for sure! The Kringles we make at Christmas are a customer inspired recipe.  Our original location (the western half of where Einstein Brothers is currently), was formerly a bakery called Sophia’s.  (I didn’t know this until we were open and operational!).  She had baked and offered Kringles and customers were hoping for the same from me.  I had to go look them up, because I had no idea what they were.

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What are Kringles?
Kringles are a traditional Scandinavian pastry. It’s a festive, holiday desert made with all kinds of different fillings in a wreath shape. At Dolce we fill them with apple or raspberry cream, and make them with croissant dough instead of the traditional Danish dough because I like it a little less sweet.     

 

Where do you start when creating a recipe?
Exploring new recipes is an important part of my creative process. I always have many ‘open tabs’ in my brain...sometimes I start with a specific result/product in mind, sometimes there are ingredients that are my focus, and sometimes there are flavors that I want to see together. I start with a clean and orderly workspace.

What’s your favorite thing to make right now?
Donuts!

What does a typical day in the life look like for you?

On Mondays when the shop is closed…

4:30am wake

5-6 Judo with my mma fight team

6-7:30 breakfast, emails, desk work

7:30 get my little guy (16 month old) up and fed

8-10 strength training, play with little guy, go for a walk

10-11:30/12 conversation with business coach

12-3 work, meetings, scheduling

3-6 more play, run errands, go play with friends, help step-daughter with homework, make dinner, other mom/household stuff

6-9 evening routine, mom stuff, prep for next day, finish work, read, family time, fall over

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We can all take notes from you! You hustle hard even on your days off. And you practice judo! How did you get into that?
Haha.  My husband.  He has been a martial artist since the age of 6.  I began training with him on the fitness side of his business, but fell in love with martial arts. I have developed deep strength, confidence, and physical abilities that I never knew were possible for me. It keeps me humble, builds resilience (literally always getting back up), and is fun!

What are your favorite ways to spend free time?
NAP, play or go on a family adventure with my hubby and kids, bake, read, exercise, be outside.

Where are your favorite places in KC to have family adventures?

We like to go down to Union Station, the OP Farmers Market, Deanna Rose, local parks and splash pads, KC Zoo, and the Berry Patch.

 

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What are you currently reading?
The Whole-Brain Child and The Untethered Soul and Mother Bruce

When do you find time to read so much! What’s your go-to book recommendation?
I have to make time. My business coach and mentor is a teacher and loves to read. She has lead me to some of my very favorites! My go-to recommendation is The Big Leap. It has given me helpful language and tools for understanding and overcoming places where I get stuck. It has also helped me to be aware of what, in my work, brings about the greatest abundance and satisfaction in relation to time spent- and focus my energy there. You know, like when you’re doing something you love and time disappears?? It’s like that.

Yes! We’ll have to add that to our to-read list. Thanks for taking time to chat with us! We can’t wait to swing by the bakery again to munch on more of your delicious creations.

Want to bake like Erin? Check out the delicious strawberry slab pie recipe she developed for us here