Entrepreneur, Brittney Parks, owner of Parks Pastries, Catering and Café located in Homewood, IL, specializes in delicious pastries and sweets made from scratch. Parks is driven by her passion for baking pastries and making sure her customers are satisfied every time they walk through the doors of Parks Pastries.
Could you tell us a little something about yourself?
I am a wife, mother of four beautiful children, God-fearing woman, and I have always loved all things food.
How did you get started in the bakery business? Did you have any formal training, or did you jump right into baking?
I got started baking when I had my first son. I talked to my husband because I saw all these pictures of delicious food on Pinterest and wanted this elaborate party. My husband said, “I’m not paying for that.” So, I watched YouTube videos and figured out how to bake. I was never a person who liked to cook or bake until I got married. There was no formal training. I’m entirely self-taught.
What is a typical day like for you at Parks Pastries?
I usually start my day at the bakery no later than 6:00 a.m. Most of the pastries are made from scratch, baked fresh, every day. We start baking french macarons, cookies, eclairs, scones, and cupcakes. I do a later start than most bakeries because I am a mother, and that is my first priority.
When was Parks Pastries’ grand opening, and what does being a business owner mean to you?
The grand opening was June 8, 2020. I have been in business for five years, but I was a home baker. The more I posted my work on social media, the more I was getting clients. My husband told me I had outgrown my space working from home, and it was time to venture out on my own. We signed the lease in February 2020, and then the pandemic happened. That put a damper on our plans a little bit, but it was one of the greatest accomplishments of being a black woman business owner.
I love the fact that my children pass by the bakery and see their mom’s logo front and center in downtown Homewood.
What challenges did you face starting a bakery?
Our initial grand opening was supposed to be in April. Due to the pandemic, we weren’t sure how we would navigate because customers could not come inside the store. It’s was difficult starting your business as a carry-out, especially when the customers don’t know what you have to offer. Thankfully, I have a sizeable following selling pastries at a farmer’s market. My customers have shown up for us day after day.
It was terrifying because so many bakeries and restaurants I grew up going to have closed. It’s definitely been a struggle, but we have an amazing support system.
What do you hope to see Parks Pastries grow within the next year?
I hope that Parks Pastries become a household name. We have done phenomenal in the south suburbs. An estimate of 60% of our clients literally come every week. I want Parks Pastries to continue to grow. I will be doing a web series for those who want to get started baking pastries. I also want to do a cookbook because the number of cookbooks, especially pastries, written by black women, is extremely low. There’s definitely a market for it. There is a love and soul that goes into all my baked goods. I want to have a platform to share that with everybody.
Who inspired or influenced you to bake?
I like old school cooking. Gladys Knight has always been a favorite of mines. When the internet went crazy over Patti LaBelle’s sweet potato pie, I said to myself, “I can do this. I got to come up with a sweet potato pie that is just as good as hers but age-appropriate.” I want to take classic items, like old school butter cookies and sweet potato pie, and bake them modern and fun.
With the holidays coming, what pastries do you recommend?
Thanksgiving is all about the pies, especially sweet potato pie. German chocolate is our number one seller and also pound cake.
What advice would you give to someone that wants to own a business?
If you have an idea of what you want to do, just do it. Don’t procrastinate when you have a passion for starting a business.
People say, I will one day, and then something like the pandemic happens. Don’t be afraid to dream. We have a woman who will be the first Vice President. If you have the mindset, put in the hard work and dedication, anything is possible.
Parks Pastries is located at 18201 Dixie Highway Homewood, IL 60430. Hours of operation: Monday: Closed: Tuesday-Friday 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Tammy Gibson is a travel historian, author, and writer. Find her at www.sankofatravelher.com, Facebook, Instagram @SankofaTravelher, and Twitter @SankofaTravelHr.