Meet the Truck Driver Turned Baker Whipping Up Smiles and Inspiration in Houston

“If a truck driver can turn into a baker, then there’s nothing stopping anyone from pursuing their passion.”

Mark Linen Brotha Bakes
Photo: Annie Mulligan

Mark Linen has been fascinated by baking since he was a child—a passion he owes to his mother.

"I was amazed by how she took eggs, flour and butter (among other things) and created such delicious treats," the 43-year-old told Southern Living.

But it wasn't until decades later, when he heard a motivational speech by Steve Harvey in early 2019, that the truck driver from Sugarland, Texas, became inspired to bake professionally.

"He said something like, 'if the alarm clock goes off in the morning and you're not excited about what you are doing, then you aren't living in your gifts,'" Linen recalled. "That really hit home for me! I was never passionate about driving a truck, but it was a good job. After that, I started on my journey to find out what I was passionate about and knew baking was it."

In November 2019, Linen founded his own dessert company Brotha Bakes, an online bakery "serving up some of the greatest tasting cakes you can find in a jar" and full-size cakes throughout the Houston area. Flavors include red velvet, carrot, German chocolate and more.

Brotha Bakes Cake Jar
Annie Mulligan

"I've always had the desire to own my own business. Brotha Bakes is the opportunity to do that. I want to create something that I can give to my two sons, Israel and Zion, one day. I want to build something that they can be proud of," he explained. "I hope people will see Brotha Bakes and get inspired to follow their dreams too. If a truck driver can turn into a baker, then there's nothing stopping anyone from pursuing their passion."

He also wants to inspire members of the Black community, which is why he created the Brotha Bakes logo in his image—big, bushy beard included. "I want a young Black child to walk into a store one day and see a logo on a jar that resembles them," he told ABC13. "That's important to me."

But Linen's favorite part of his new profession is the reactions he gets from people trying his desserts.

"I truly enjoy baking, but I want people to enjoy it too. Especially in these crazy times, smiles don't always come easily," Linen said. "It's nice to see something that I love to do put a smile on someone's face. That's a big part of why I do it."

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