That was Brie Marrow’s first foray into baking. Although she had a culinary degree from The Art Institute of Charlotte and catered on the side, “I never was pastry chef,” she said.
Cake pops – pieces of cake affixed to a stick like a lollipop – were a hobby. Marrow said she was inspired by watching baking shows on TV with her daughter.
Once she perfected the pops, though, Marrow decided to bake a regular cake.
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“Baking the cake turned into designing the cake,” said Marrow, 38, an Ohio native. “Designing the cake turned into wanting to come up with the perfect recipe. I wanted my product to taste as great as it looks.”
Now there’s Cake Couture Boutique, a shop Marrow and her husband, Mariston, opened in June near Triangle Town Center in North Raleigh.
Marrow calls it “retail therapy with cupcakes.” Cake Couture opened with five flavors: triple chocolate, strawberry lemonade, vanilla bean, butter toffee crunch and maple bacon.
They baked 650. None were left.
The shop offers cupcakes, other sweet treats, specialty cakes and cakes-to-go. Each Saturday introduces five new Cake Couture flavors, listed ahead of time on the shop’s menu cards. Think cookies-n-cream, bananas foster, sweet potato pie and key lime pie.
This fall, Cake Couture will feature southern belle desserts such as strawberry shortcake, banana pudding, and pecan and sweet potato pies.
And there’s Catering by Cake Couture, which specializes in southern cuisine and customized menus.
“Food is my thing,” Marrow said. “The cake is really good, but I believe the food is phenomenal.”
Marrow moved to Raleigh in 2008 when she married and became Mom to her husband’s children, Antavius, now 18, and Janequa, 17.
Mariston Marrow also is “a phenomenal chef” and the “backbone of our business,” his wife said. She credits him with making Cake Couture a one-stop shop, especially for brides shopping for catering and cakes.
Initially, the couple had full-time jobs, but Cake Couture’s “phone was ringing all the time,” Brie said. She quit her job in August 2014, and Mariston joined his wife in March after a 16-year career with CPI Security.
Brie had always been bewildered by a recurring dream in which she owned a cake shop. Mariston, 39, said he perhaps had considered a food truck, but he didn’t have big baking dreams. Years of staying up until 3 a.m. cooking and baking paid off, though.
It’s also a perfect training ground for the couple’s children, said Mariston, who grew up on a farm in Henderson and wants to pass on the work ethic instilled in him by his parents and grandparents.
“They’re learning important work habits: dealing with the public at an early age, developing social and business skills,” he said. “I believe, now, I could drop them off and leave for a while and they could probably handle the business without a problem.”
After two cake-tastings at Raleigh bakeries in search of the perfect wedding cake for her daughter’s upcoming wedding, a still-unsatisfied Danita Cobb dropped in at Cake Couture’s grand opening.
Three days later, she was back a third time – and she set a cake-tasting appointment.
“This melts in my mouth,” Cobb said.
The Marrows are “business mentors” for Valonda and Randal Calloway, a husband-wife team who own 360 Elite Entertainment, a deejay company.
There’s a bonus, too, as women entrepreneurs.
“Brie is an incredible business woman who is always looking to support other people in our business,” Calloway said. “She’s not just out for herself. She cares about her community and she cares about seeing other people succeed.”
Those words are beautiful music to Brie.
“I just want to put out a great product people love,” she said. “That’s all I ever wanted.”
Done, Brie Marrow. Your cake pops.
If you go
Cake Couture is located at 5911 Poyner Village Park, Suite 103, Raleigh.