Charlie Fyffe has always loved eating brownies, but the UC Berkeley graduate ('11) and Jackie Robinson Foundation alumnus (2006-2010) discovered that baking and selling brownies can also be profitable. "For my high school varsity basketball potluck, I made a pan of box mix brownies," he said. "After seeing them get devoured almost instantaneously, I decided to start making my own brownies to sell at school along with the Gatorade and candy that I was already selling." Fyffe's love for the sweet delicacy has turned into a real business that recently earned him the title of Black Enterprise's Entrepreneur of the Week for his company, Charlie's Brownies.
Charlie's Brownies is a gourmet-brownie retailer and catering service that operates locally in Fyffe's hometown of Los Angeles, California. It incorporates no preservatives or artificial flavors - just natural ingredients and what Fyffe calls "home-baked love".
"Entrepreneurship is in my blood", he quipped. My great grandfather in Belize built a rum distillery, shoe factories, and owned lots of land and cattle. Looking at the system we live in from a big picture macro perspective, logic would tell us that the people making the most money and living in real freedom are the ones taking the most risk and executing great ideas into profitable business ventures. If that's what works, that's what I plan to do!"
Fyffe says Networking Weekend, or the Mentoring and Leadership Conference as it's now known, has played a vital role in what he is doing these days. "When I was a freshman, I looked up to the older, more accomplished seniors; many of which have been my personal and business mentors over these past years,' he said. "Having the opportunity to connect with and surround myself with other young, black, educated individuals, naturally forced me to step my game up to the next level and maintain a high standard of achievement throughout college."
While a junior, Fyffe received from the Foundation the coveted Unilever Legacy of Leadership award for starting an organization and a movement around college entrepreneurship. "When you struggle with getting your business off the ground in the beginning and receive no recognition or reward for your hard work, it can become draining and lead to doubts of having success," he noted. "The monetary award and the press I received all went towards the continued growth of my business while giving me the confidence that I was doing the right thing and making the correct life choices."
Fyffe plans to spend this year increasing menu choices and boosting his e-commerce business. Says Fyffe, "I cannot thank JRF enough for supporting me personally as well as my journey as an entrepreneur."