Software engineer makes childhood passion a thriving business

 

By Curtis Bunn,
Urban News Service
A Division of Zenger News

Karen Young always believed she was following her passion during a long successful career as a
software engineer. Then, at 50, a chance opportunity ignited a fresh business idea that took her
back to her childhood.

Her inspiration was ignited in 2015 when a close friend asked her to coordinate a dessert bar at
her wedding reception. Young tapped into a creative side that she generally suppressed by
recalling her youth in South Central Los Angeles where lollipops were soothing treats in an
environment that often was uneasy and besieged by gangs.

Then she added a twist, deciding to infuse them with libations she already had at ho
me.

The adult version of her childhood favorite was a success. The guests enjoyed them so much
that Young took several orders for the unique treat at the wedding. And thus, the idea for
Gourmee Bars was born.

But Young knew that a business requires m
ore than just a good idea. Over the next four years,
she conducted research and experiments in her Atlanta home,
learning about and sampling
edible fruits and flowers. She mixed herbs and spices in multiple combinations and used friends
as taste

testers.
Young sampled more candy than she cares to remember to get where she is and went to school
on mixing elements with sugar.
“It was important that I learned the chemistry of creating candy,” she said. “If not done
properly, hard candy can turn out grainy o
r too soft. So I had to learn through trial and error
what happens with the ingredients while they are cooking and to understand how slight
variations of cooking temperatures or adding flavorings could completely change the result.
Those were my challenges
.”
All the while, she continued to work her day job.
“Mom, this is your passion.” her 23

year old daughter Issa Clark, told her this summer as she
eagerly mixed dessert concoctions over her stove. Young who had just finished an eight

hour
day at her
regular job was startled by the comment.
“I hadn’t thought about it that way,” Young said. “But she was right. I would do my job at work,
but every free moment I thought about getting into the kitchen and making lollipops. The mere
thought of it excited
me. So the next step was natural.”

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