“You just don’t stop until it’s done,” says Marilyn Brown, sales manager of Sweet Creations Pie Bakery, about her work ethic. Growing up one of five children in South Nashville (including sister Barbara Toms), she learned the value of hard work early in life and how good food brings people together.
“We didn’t have much money, but we always had plenty of food,” says Marilyn. She shadowed her mother and father in the kitchen learning how to cook family meals and provide for her younger siblings. “That’s the way to a person’s heart, and if you came into my mother’s house, you had to eat something.”
Her love of people and taking care of others led Marilyn to a 30-year nursing career in ambulatory care, critical care and nursing home care. She earned an associate degree in nursing at Tennessee State University and a bachelor of science in business. She then went on to earn an MBA at Middle Tennessee State University.
After her long career in health care, Marilyn launched a home cleaning business called Mom’s Cleaning that grew by word of mouth with church members. She soon had contracts with Titans’ players, and her customers were growing. It was clear she either needed to “go big or fold” so she decided to close the operations.
She joined the Sweet Creations team in 2012 to help with sales, delivery, and baking. She jokes, “They let me crack eggs, pour syrup and label the boxes.” As sales manager, Marilyn develops wholesale relationships with grocery stores, convenience stores and other chains to expand their product line within the stores.
“The most exciting thing for me is seeing Barbara’s diligence working with mother’s recipes until she got it right. They were too sweet. She would give them away to everyone.” Witnessing her sister’s commitment to growing the business for the primary purpose of helping others has been rewarding to Marilyn as well.
“To see her fulfill the dream she has is worth everything.”
Marilyn doesn’t see herself slowing down anytime soon. She loves traveling and has been all around the U.S. as well as London, Hong Kong, Canada, Kenya and the Congo. She would love to go back to the Congo to meet her namesake after 14 years. The holy city of Jerusalem is on her ‘must see’ travel list.
At this stage in her life, Marilyn shared it’s important to be inquisitive and keep life interesting. “One of the revelations I’ve had is how kind people can be because of your age and respect. I can ask any question and get away with it—just ask!”