Thursday, July 18, 2013

Grace Brown: From Law to Cake

Vol. I, No. 9

Well, this really takes the cake. And for this post, I'm going to need to interrupt the story about leaving New York to follow my husband's dream to move to New Zealand. There's a lot to tell about the in between - in particular, an adventure into China with our baby girl! But for now...


Bernie's on the Bay, Wellington
When we first arrived in New Zealand, I was intrigued by the number of signs around Wellington, the country's capital, that advertised dreams. Dreams, dream-following, passion, adventure, and so on. A sign posted outside Bernie's on the Bay cafe stated, "Bernie's: FREE admission to those who dream." Or an ad for Victoria University: "Know what you stand for. Know where your passions lie. Know your next move." My favorite was an entirely improbable ad for getting a mortgage, of all things: "Are you still living someone else's dream?" The last time I cross-referenced following a dream and mortgage debt was...never. Having written and covered stories of dream-following for all these years, a part of me felt a little bit right-at-home when I saw these signs and sentiments. 

But back to cake! 

So one Sunday morning, just after we'd arrived in New Zealand, I opened The Dominion Post, the local paper here, to find a front-page feature story on none other than someone following a dream...

Grace Brown was an attorney working at a Wellington law firm. When she got engaged, she and her fiance moved moved to London for a time. It was then that she decided to pursue her dream to bake. She'd been baking with her grandmother since she was a kid, and it was her grandmother who taught her how to say "cake" when she was just a tot. As Grace told The Dominion Post, "Being a lawyer was satisfying, but it never really lit my fire. I was much more excited by the cakes and cupcakes I made for my colleagues' birthdays..."

Well, practice had made perfect and Grace ended up landing a job at one of Britain's most famous bakeries, turning out bespoke cupcakes for the likes of Buckingham Palace and 10 Downing. She worked at Crumbs & Doilies for a year, and then moved back to Wellington. Recently, she opened up her own bakery, "Sweet Bakery & Cakery."When Grace and I met earlier this week, she had just taken another leap: she'd signed a lease for her very own baking space. And in order to afford it, she had to move back in with her parents.

So what gave Grace the courage to pursue her dream? Well, as she told me this morning, Grace and her fiance "strongly believe happiness is more important than money, and I never would have found that being a lawyer." She added that she "just doesn't really see another option - it's what I'm meant to be doing, and I have to make it happen."

Grace Brown's dream-following adventurous "suit-cake"
Well, obviously, I had to give Grace a tall order. I wanted a cake for my little girl's first birthday. I told Grace it had to represent following dreams, adventure, and all the places the baby has traveled or will soon travel. Grace asked me to give her a day to think, and called me promptly a day later. "How about a suitcase?" she said. "With luggage stickers and a baggage tag?"

I was speechless, and here's why (pictured right). I mean, check out the stitching! And the "suit-cake's" edges that look straight out of Louis Vuitton! And the heart-shaped Mongolian flag! And the luggage tag! And the chocolate luggage handle (which my little girl promptly ripped off and stuffed, whole, into her mouth).

If you're in New Zealand and you're in the market for a cake that will knock your socks off, or you just want to follow the progress of someone following her dream, you can contact Grace via or follow her on Facebook

-Patricia Sexton is the author of "LIVE from Mongolia!", the true story of a woman chucking in her Wall Street career to follow her dream to become anchor of the Mongolian news. Her book will be published by Beaufort Books in October, 2013. Follow her on Twitter and on Facebook

1 comment:

fingers said...

that cake really takes the suitcase...