One Woman’s Journey to Entrepreneurship, with Guidance from our Family Prosperity Program


In Her Own Words

Brenda Martin

It was just an apartment, some chairs, a bed and a family. But now, there's a whole bunch of cakes and pans here.  
It’s a lot of boxes and stuff.  
I want to make sure that I'm prepared, and I have everything. 
I make cakes, puddings, and pies — whatever you like — it's up to you the customer, for real, because to me it's all about you.  

If you call me and you say I want a red-velvet almond cake, I’ll say sure, let me look up the recipe and I'll make that cake for you. Then I'll put it up on my website to see if others like what you like.    

My favorite is the strawberry shortcake with the cream cheese frosting — ugh, I don't know what it is. It tastes just like ice cream and cake, then when you freeze it, it stays moist and flavorful, and you can taste every bit of the elements.  
My most popular is the lemon cake I make. 
Everybody loves it [Laughs] and the banana pudding, and the cheese cake one.  

I love sweets so everything is delicious to me.  

I'm an artist and I wanted my art designs to start showing up on my cakes.  
I would come home and make fondant all day long. [Laughs] Super sweet fondant, medium fondant, play with the recipes, just me with my kids. You know, trying to better my craft.   
I'm 35 now — and I haven't really been doing too much with myself. 

I wasn't always Sloppy Jars [her bakery business]; I was just Brenda.   
Standing in the middle of the action and not part of it. 

I was living on the west side of the Eutaw Place in an apartment building not too far from the Promise Heights program when Mr. Jeffrey [Coordinator of the Promise Heights Family Prosperity Program] asked me why isn't this happening?
Why aren't you doing anything to get yourself out there? 
It made me think, yeah, you right, I'm just talking about a dream. 
So, he pushed, and he pushed, and pushed. 
Every week he gave me assignments.  
I just needed a push, somebody to help me and encourage me a little more.  

He ended up introducing me to a friend [who runs a baking business.] 
I spent about four hours with her. I left with a whole notebook full of stuff. I asked her a whole bunch of questions that worried me [like]:  
How can I start a business from nothing especially when you must put so much into a business to the first five years? She told me you don't worry about that because if you're talented and people see it, it will come to you — that's true! It really is!  

That took away a lot of my worry.  

From all her advice and the advice Mr. Jeffery gave me, I started putting into the business. I came up with a logo and started to use the recipes. 
I love the way people feel and to see how people react to my treats.  
[Entrepreneurship] is for everybody and anybody that wants to get out there for themselves.  
You're going to have your highs and your lows, trust me. Not every day is a bangin' day, you know. But just to know that people are hearing your name makes you feel like okay what I am doing is not for nothing. I've been doing this for four, five months, and I'm doing this!  

[My advice] is advertise yourself, stop doubting yourself, and it doesn't hurt to try. There are resources. 
I had to learn patience and good customer service because working with the public you've got to keep that patience with them because you do want them to come back. 

The difference is within me.   

The biggest change is having a voice now, using it, and wanting to allow people to hear even if it's small or loud — that's what was stopping me in the beginning, I just didn't use it. So now I have my voice, I am speaking, and I am being heard.  

Follow Ms. Brenda’s progress on Instagram and support a growing small business!