by Maggie Boyle Judi
My favorite cupcake from One Sweet Slice is the Grasshopper. A concoction of dense chocolate cupcake with a creamy oreo and mint buttercream.
It is a cupcake that is rich in nostalgia for me perhaps because it is reminiscent of my days spent making the grasshopper, an Oreo and mint shake at the Shake Shack in Monticello.
Nostalgia is the best of flavors. I like to think that Janell Brown gathered a little inspiration for her grasshopper cupcake from her days spinning shakes with me. We worked in those days for Jan Redd, who owned the Shake Shack for years.
Jan didn’t just provide us with a paycheck, she provided us with an education too! She had us scrubbing that burger joint from top to bottom with literally a toothbrush at least twice a season. She taught us the value of putting your best effort into every shake, burger and cup of fry sauce and most importantly, says Janell, she taught us teamwork.
“If I had a date or if we were in a super busy rush, I could always call Jan and she would come right down to help us out or take a shift,” says Janell of her first boss. “She came to visit me at my shop one day, and I said, “I can so appreciate what you did for us back then!”
Janell gathered inspiration from those days under Jan’s tutelage to manage her own successful business, a bakery with two locations called, “One Sweet Slice.”
This is where she spent the last decade and more following her passion of building wedding cakes for a clientele list that includes Robert Redford, Selena Gomez, Kanye West, and even RSL’s Romando, among many more famous faces, not to mention around 20 wedding cakes a week!
Janell closed her wildly successful cupcake shop to spend more time with her greatest creations, her four children, Kaysen, Addie, Becca and Sadie. These days, Janell Brown is a full time mom who can most often be found at the park, or maybe at the swimming pool, or even story time at the library!
In regards to a person’s professional life, the ideal would be to be able to make a living using your talents and your passion.
When Janell opened One Sweet Slice in 2011, she was one of the lucky ones, talented enough in her area of creativity to make a roaring success of her business and make money with her creative outlet.
It all began soon after the birth of her first child, when Janell decided to take a cake decorating class offered at Robert’s in Cedar City.
The teacher noticed that “I kinda had a knack for this cake thing,” and she offered Janell a job helping her teach the class. What started off as a hobby quickly became a small business.
“It always starts with friends and family,” says Brown. She made her first wedding cake for cousin Candace Briggs’ nuptials and when all those reception goers saw the results, naturally more requests for her services rushed in.
From there her success exploded like apricot blossoms in May. At her first bridal show, she booked 30 cakes for the summer wedding season, an astronomical number for a one-woman bakery.
By 2011, when husband Trent had lost his job in the recession, the duo decided to put his talents with all things technological and his background in sales to market One Sweet Slice and open a shop specializing in wedding cakes and also offering cupcakes and other bakery treats.
All the success of the business led Janell to compete on the Food Network Show, “Cupcake Wars” where she won the competition and the opportunity to serve her cupcakes at a party for the show Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
Winning a national tv show competition skyrocketed her success and the Brown’s opened a second cupcake shop in Sandy. Her cupcakes won several state awards, including Best of State and Best Cupcakes in Salt Lake county.
Janell has written two books: One Sweet Cupcake and One Sweet Year of Cupcakes. Both are sold in major bookstores (and minor bookstores such as the San Juan Record).
All of these opportunities added up to a regular 60-hour work week. This is a harrowing amount of work, even when spending those hours doing what you love.
The Browns made a goal to keep their kids out of day care, which led Trent to take on the stay-at-home role something Janell says gave them each a new appreciation for each other.
“We know each others traditional roles,” says Brown. But the hours were taking their toll on Janell, who most often would sacrifice her sleep to finish her workload. A system that she says could not sustain itself. So when husband Trent landed a great new job, the Browns decided it was time to sell.
“I wanted to just take my kids to the park!” says Janell in regards to the decision.
She had made a huge success of her passion, and met and succeeded all her goals. It was time to put the focus back on the kids. “I felt like my kids were the ones getting neglected so the business could succeed and I was not happy doing that,” se explains.
“You can do anything you want in your life but you cannot do EVERYTHING you want at the same time. And that’s what I was trying to do. But that’s not reality and it didn’t work. So I just had to decide, ‘What am I choosing?’”
And in the end, she chose her kids. She chose wiping snotty noses and dirty bums, field trips and kissing scraped knees. When asked what she loves most about her life post cupcakes, Janell says, “We remembered crazy hair day for school!”
After looking at her elaborate cake designs, I can only imagine what awesome crazy hair days look like for Janell’s kids!
As for leaving their business behind, to the Browns it’s not the tragedy most people assume it to be in any way!
“People say to us, ‘I am so sorry that it closed,’ and I think, ‘It’s great.’
“For me personally being able to change and move in a different direction, I don’t feel like I’ve lost anything, I don’t feel like I gave anything up.’”
Janell is a glass is half full kind of person. She sees only the benefits of her experiences, “ I gained a whole lot from it and it has prepared me for whatever we decide to do next. And as for One Sweet Slice, we have lots of ideas to keep our brand alive.”
But for now Janell will just revel in motherhood, enjoying the basics, snuggling little kiddos at bedtime and spending the weekends with her family all together for the first time in 10 years.
“Being home for dinner every night too!” she says and adds with an ironic laugh, “Although, I do not enjoy cooking dinner.”
Part of Janell’s creative process has always included looking at things from all angles. “Sometimes we as women think that because I’m a mom, I have to put everything I am on hold until my kids are grown.”
Brown has found the opposite to be true in motherhood, “You can still do those things! It’s just about finding balance, it’s okay to step back and change what you need to so that you can still pursue your passion and your education and your dreams and be a mom at the same time.
“You just have to keep insight the things that will ultimately bring you the greatest happiness in life and not trade that for whatever is exciting and fun right now!”
It takes a strong person to have succeeded in something so grandly and then in the same breath be able to take themselves away from that and give everything they have back to their kids. It sounds like something a passionate mom would do.
Janell Brown can be confident that one day her kids will look back at all the things their mother taught them and think with nostalgia about a mom who was really great at crazy hairdos. Nostalgia is after all the best flavor!