The recipe for love was quite simple for Brad and Kelli Marks: A pinch of statistics, a dash of snow, plenty of study sessions. Blend well, and let simmer for a few months.
The pair, who met when they were both students in the College of Business at UALR, are co-owners of Sweet Love, a boutique Little Rock bakery. Brad is also the office manager at a growing pediatric dental office.
Brad came to UALR by way of Bryant in 1998. Kelli, a Sheridan native, started college a year later as a Chancellor’s Leadership Corps student. Both entered the advertising and public relation program not knowing the other.
But that soon changed. Introductions were made in a business statistics class. They were on the Tuesday/Thursday class track and often carpooled. By the time they reached quantitative methods, they were passing notes back and forth – letters that Kelli has tucked away.
A friendship blossomed, and even though the chemistry was apparent to others around them, it took two years before they became official. Both were busy with jobs and school. But a snow day left Kelli stranded in Little Rock, which led to dinner and a movie with Brad.
In 2004, Brad proposed to Kelli on her birthday. A “weddingmoon” took place in Jamaica, and then they settled into newlywed bliss, him at his brother’s dental practice, her at an advertising agency.
The story could end happily ever after there but for a tasty twist. A change in job status left Kelli considering her options. After pursuing a master’s of business administration at UALR, Kelli decided she wanted to go into business for herself.
While baking had long been a hobby, starting with her grandparent’s 50th anniversary cake, Kelli knew she was onto something when “friends of friends of friends” sought her out for baked treats.
Kelli knew from her COB coursework how to set up a small business. While in school, she worked on an independent study with professors about small businesses and advertising that went on to be published. That study, which looked into social media impact, set the stage for Kelli’s own market research, down to price points and location for her storefront.
Brad helped with the books, and in January 2012, Sweet Love opened for business. Both decided to take a leap of faith in this labor of love.
They knew the business could make it, Brad says, but they didn’t know how much work it would take make it.
Sweet Love just celebrated its first birthday, ending its inaugural year in the black.