Founder: Charlie Fyffe
Charlie’s Brownies is a gourmet-brownie retailer and catering service that operates locally in Los Angeles, California. It incorporates no preservatives or artificial flavors — just natural ingredients and home-baked love.
HOW $10,000 WILL HELP: “Beginning in February 2010, we began significant brand development and expansion, and additional funding will make it possible for us to broaden these efforts, focusing on our Web site, logo design, business cards and social-media services,” Fyffe says. “We’ll also be able to upgrade our commercial space; purchase ingredients wholesale to take advantage of economies of scale; buy appliances and proper kitchen attire; and gain access to various small-business legal services.”
“WHEN YOU THINK of cookies,” says Charlie Fyffe, “you think of Mrs. Fields or Famous Amos. But when you think of brownies . . . ”
He’s right: Nothing in particular comes to mind. But if Fyffe, 24, has his way, dessert lovers across America will soon fill in that mental blank with the name of his eponymous company, Charlie’s Brownies, which he launched while a student at the University of California at Berkeley. After graduating two years ago, he moved the operation back to his hometown, Los Angeles.
While at Berkeley, he cut his entrepreneurial teeth by partnering with Tully’s Coffee (a prominent chain in the Bay Area) to stock his gourmet bites; he also founded the Baking Club of Berkeley, a community of local pastry chefs. Back in L.A., he has focused more on catering and expanding his product line, which now includes vegan and gluten-free treats.
An unabashed fan of pop-psych business guru Malcolm Gladwell — he can quote sections of The Tipping Point at length — Fyffe has garnered plenty of notice for his delectable confections; in 2010, among other honors, he was named a Jackie Robinson Foundation Scholar. Now he plans to spend the rest of 2012 broadening his menu, cementing relationships with retailers and continuing to boost his e-commerce capabilities. (Brownies, it turns out, ship cross-country better than you might think.) Through it all, his treats will remain all-natural, crafted by a self-taught master who now puts business precepts in the service of delicious dessert. “I use no preservatives or artificial flavors,” he says. “Just natural ingredients and home-baked love.” A heady recipe, in other words, for sweet success. •