- Associated Press - Saturday, January 31, 2015

ACCOKEEK, Md. (AP) - Most teenagers spend their free time engrossed in social media and selfies, but 16-year-old Bree Britt isn’t like most teenagers.

Every day at 3:50 p.m., Bree gets off the school bus at a small strip of storefronts on Livingston Road in Accokeek. And under a white awning that reads “Bree’s Sweet Treats,” the teen transforms from high school student to business owner.

“Depending on how busy the day is and what we have to do for the next day, I’ll be here,” Bree says while sitting at a table in the café section of her store.

The St. Mary’s Ryken High School student opened her bakery in 2013 after launching a successful online baking business when she was 12. But Bree’s journey into crafting confections began long before she reached double digits.

“By the time I was 5, going on 6, I was fully active in the kitchen with both of my grandmothers,” Bree says. Baking was meant to be a distraction for Bree, whose father suffered from a traumatic brain injury while serving in the Army, and was in a vegetative state when she was young.

“And when my grandfather came home, he was our taste tester. . He loved it. After a hard day of work, he came home to some good food and treats,” she says.

At first, Bree’s lessons in the kitchen were mostly instruction, but as she progressed, her grandmothers let Bree take the lead.

“I kept on baking throughout the years, as time went on, and it was kind of my hobby, especially during middle school,” says Bree, who, in addition to cooking for her grandfather, began delivering sweets to office parties for her aunts and uncles.

Bree realized she wanted to take her talents to the next level after being tasked with making dessert for her cousin’s Sweet 16 party.

“It was a very creative moment for me; I didn’t want to do something that was ordinary, like regular cake. I wanted to do something that would wow people,” she says.

Bree took her job very seriously. “At the time, I had a little safe and I put the recipe in there and I drew plans for it and had every description in it.”

For the party, she constructed 50 cake skewers with an accompanying homemade dipping sauce. By the end of the night, every last crumb was gone. That’s when Bree decided to sit down and talk to her mom about baking professionally.

“I told her, ‘I like doing this. I really do. And it really makes me happy, and I would love to turn this into something more.’”

Bree’s mom, Charmaine, admits she was a little skeptical of her daughter’s ideas at first, but eventually offered her support. “It took some convincing, and so to compromise, I told her she could start online first and we’ll find her somewhere to bake and I’ll deliver,” she says.

Bree proved she could maintain her honor-roll grades, all while mixing the dough - and bringing it in. Bree’s Sweet Treats opened its current storefront, and just in December expanded to include a café menu and seating area.

Back in the kitchen, Bree whips up a variety of cupcakes, cakes, cake pops, cookies, brownies, pies and sweet breads - but only after she finishes her schoolwork.

“I usually tend to get most of my homework done first, and then go work, because my grades are very important to me,” she says.

When she’s at school and studying, her mom runs the bakery, along with some help from Bree’s grandmother and great-grandmother.

“It’s truly become a family business,” Charmaine says. “We have four generations that actually have input as to what goes on here.”

Bree even puts her little brother to work when it comes to cleaning up, and tries to teach her sister, 6, as much as she can when it comes to baking.

During the summer months, Bree takes on a more demanding role: She gives mom a break and steps in to run the business.

“She’s had her hand in every aspect of the business, and it’s been great,” Charmaine says.

Bree has won over the stomachs of sugar-crazed locals, but her business has also attracted the attention of several colleges and universities, anxious to meet the ambitious teen. And Bree has her eyes on the interested schools, as well. She knows what she wants in the future, and that’s to be a veterinarian.

“I know that’s a left turn from where I am right now, but I honestly have wanted this for a long time, and nothing’s really changed my mind,” she says.

That’s not to say she’s going to throw in the apron and abandon baking. Bree’s looking into culinary school programs for this summer, and says she may even try to revive her online business while she’s away at college.

Local fans of the bakery don’t need to worry: Charmaine plans to keep the Accokeek location open even in her daughter’s absence to help Bree fulfill the dream of her father, who passed away in 2013.

“He always said that he was going to be a millionaire by 40, and I am trying to make his dream come true,” Bree says. “He is a big part of the bakery as well - all of our family is, our supporters . and our customers are like our family. This is the Bree’s Sweet Treats family.”


Information from: WTOP-FM, https://www.wtop.com

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