By Amy NICHOLSON
The Women in the Year 2012 conference at the Utah State University campus in Brigham City promises to be a sweet treat for attendees -- with the founder of The Sweet Tooth Fairy herself, Megan Faulkner Brown of Lehi, as the keynote speaker.
Other workshops include topics on everything from holiday appetizers, thrift-store crafting and decorating, to disciplining children and party planning.
"We want it to target all age groups, be educational and also be a fun day for all women," said chairwoman Joan Bell, who said keynote speaker Brown comes highly recommended.
Brown, the mother of four and owner of 10 successful bakeries by the name The Sweet Tooth Fairy, is speaking about listening to your inner voice and following your dreams.
In January 2009, Brown had two small children, ages 2 1/2 and 9 months, when she opened her first bakery in Provo. She has loved baking treats for as long as she can remember. The youngest of five siblings, Brown said her mother did a lot of baking while her children were growing up and always let Megan help out in the kitchen.
"I appreciate her letting me be involved. I was always exposed to baking and I love it," Brown said. She has vivid memories of hearing the wheat grinder running on Saturday mornings, a telltale sign of the baking adventures the day would bring.
Her mom ran a home-based cookie dough business, selling the dough to hotels near their California residence. Brown said both of her parents instilled a strong work ethic in her. Her first job as a child was picking berries for farmers; by high school, she was working in a bakery. She moved to Provo to attend college and got a job working in a pizzeria.
During college, Brown said, she frequently hosted dessert parties and catered baby and wedding showers just for fun. After she married Ethan Brown, they bought a house that included a second kitchen in the basement. Since she still enjoyed baking for others, Brown decided to apply for a business license and make the extra kitchen commercial. She registered the Sweet Tooth Fairy domain name and operated the business out of her home for about five years before buying a storefront.
"I always knew The Sweet Tooth Fairy would be bigger than me just making treats in my basement," Brown said. But, she had no idea how to get to where she is today. Brown had to follow the journey day by day and learn the process as she went along.
She emphasizes that she started out just like anyone else, with no special knowledge or insider connections.
When the first bakery opened in 2009, she turned a small room in the rear into a playroom for the kids and business took off. That same month, Brown appeared on Rachael Ray's show to prepare the "Snack of the Day."
Two months later, she was contacted by Disney and asked to cater the premiere of "G-Force" in Hollywood. She also added a third child to her family in 2009.
In 2010, she opened four more bakeries in Utah, and in 2011 she gave birth to her fourth child and opened four more bakeries in Utah and one in Arizona. She is now ready to begin franchising the business.
In February 2011, when her youngest baby was just 2 weeks old, Brown's popular cake bites were featured on the online shopping site QVC. She sold 36,000 in seven minutes.
"That time was a blur, but it was also amazing. I am so grateful I have been blessed with these opportunities and so much help," she said, noting that family members and faithful employees stepped up to help fill the mass influx of orders.
In spring 2012, Brown was the winning contestant on the reality TV show "Cupcake
Wars," for which she was awarded $10,000.
She was invited back as an "All-Star" baker in June 2012, but made it only to the second round. She says she was "too ambitious" with her flavors. "At least it was nice to be invited back," she said with her characteristic optimism.
Brown has developed all of the recipes for her bakery, including more than 100 cupcake flavors, cake bites, caramel apples, cookies, cakes, brownies, cinnamon rolls, sweet breads and "cupshakes" -- milkshakes with cupcakes mixed in.
She said she didn't know the sacrifice that would be involved when she first began this journey. "But it has been worth it," she concluded.
Value of networking
Brown said she has learned a lot about herself and what she values in the process.
She believes that conferences such as this one are an important time for women to network and share ideas about how they are able to balance family life and work. She hopes to leave attendees with a message about following their dreams.
"In life, I believe it is important to be confident and listen to that inner voice or gut feeling," she said.
Brown's keynote presentation opens the conference at 9:10 a.m. Attendees choose from about a dozen breakout sessions on a variety of topics for the rest of the day. Some are holiday-related and others are not.
Steve Havertz, of Fruit Heights, is covering a more serious topic, but one that is at least as important as appetizers, crafts and decor for the holiday season.
Havertz, an author and licensed therapist, is presenting on grief and loss and how to overcome challenges at the holidays.
In 2003, he lost his wife, and in 2009 his 9-year-old daughter succumbed to cancer. "I have a unique perspective on grief and loss from a personal and professional perspective," he said, adding that he changed his methods of helping others deal with grief after having so much to overcome in his own life.
Bell said that all of the presenters are hand-picked and expected to be exceptional.
"It is always fun to come and get some new ideas for the holidays," she said.
WHAT: Women in the Year 2012
WHO: Women's forum hosted by Brigham City Community Hospital
WHEN: 8:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 10
WHERE: Utah State University, Brigham City campus, Milton P. Miller Building, 185 W. 1100 South
TICKETS: $15/advance, $20/at the door, including lunch; reserve by calling 435-734-4191 or online at hcamountaindivision.com/WomanReg
10:10 to 11 a.m.
The Cupcake Lady
A New Perspective on Grief
Living on a Dime
Boost for Life: An Update on Immunizations
11:10 to noon
The Cupcake Lady
Discipline Without Tears
Party Planning, Crafting
Trash to Treasure
CPR for Parents: Coping Skills, Principles of Discipline and Relating & Responding to Kids
Party Planning, Crafting
Trash to Treasure
Hair Cut and Color Tips