Fort Worth

Fort Worth Woman Finds Recipe for Success in Small Business

At some point, a lot of people have thought, "Gosh, I wish I owned my own business."

Texas is home to 2.2 million small businesses, according to the governor's office. And of them, more than 725,000 are women and minority-owned.

In fact, a recent study from American Express puts Texas in the ninth spot among the top 10 states where women-owned businesses increased their economic clout between 1997 and 2017.

That's the same year a little business called Three Danes Inn and Baking Company popped up at 712 May Street in Fort Worth's Near Southside.

Darlene Marks and her husband Jim Johnson bought the historic Queen Anne property in 2015 and spent months getting it ready for guests.

The bakery opened in February 2017 with the inn sold out on its opening weekend seven months later.

And, it's in bakery where you see the three danes, Marks, her sister Melissa Cates, their 81-year-old mother Erna Marks and family friend Hailey Finch baking and selling the Danish pastries from Marks' childhood.

"My memories of my mom baking cookies, pastries and my aunts and cousins and their approach to food and family and that experience in the home was the inspiration for all of this," said Marks.

The delicious scents of wienerbrod and authenticitynitter fill the cozy kitchen where the ladies work side-by-side pumping out pastries for guests at the inn and the customers who pop by the bakery.

Erna Marks scurries around the kitchen in the same apron she wore as a teenager. She's still a big baker and as emerged as "our authenticity expert," says Marks. "If she says it tastes Danish, they've we've done something right."

"It's nice to make our decisions about what we do in terms of quality. If we make a mistake, it's our mistake but being able to make all those decisions is a freeing and wonderful thing. I highly recommend it," she laughed.

And it's some of those reasons that drove 66 percent of people in a survey from The UPS Store to say they, too, have dreams of opening a small business.

“Don’t be fooled, the American Dream of owning your own business is still very much real, especially when compared to the rest of the developed world,” said Dr. Luke Pittaway, Ohio University College of Business Copeland Professor of Entrepreneurship, in a news release from UPS.

The top motivators for owning a small business included being their own boss (38 percent), followed by believing in the power of their own idea (17 percent) and creating their next career path (15 percent).

And, for Marks, the opportunity to work with her family was also a big draw.

Sure, there is the natural challenge of balancing schedules and finding time outside of work, but the family is the big fringe benefit.

"Every time, I drive up here and I see this house, I'm still in awe that this actually fell into place, and it worked out so beautifully and it's what I'm doing," she said.

Marks believes in this small business, she found her recipe for success.

"We are breaking even, which is exciting, but it is really more about a dream that started as something I love to do and has progressed to something I can now do as a job, and it's wonderful."

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