photo credit: Nickie Stone
Carrie Morey founded Callie’s Charleston Biscuits and Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit with the intention of making the tender, buttery, made-by-hand biscuits of her mother (Callie).
Carrie says, "I fell into being a baker by default when my mother retired a little less than 3 years into starting Callie's Biscuits together. I have always been a cook, an entertainer, a good Southern woman, but baking was not something I had experience with."
Business has always come easy to her and she calls the "art of a deal," "fun," but baking "was challenging, hard physical work, and an opportunity to learn something new."
"I knew I couldn't captain the ship without becoming a master biscuit maker," she says, "so I dug in. The result was a love affair with the process, the art. The calm sense I had when baking was such a departure from my life of emails, diapers, and endless carpools and playdates. I found myself wanting to bake to take the stress of life away. That was when I knew I had found my calling."
We checked in with Carrie, who is business woman, marketer, and baker to find out how she manages her "calling," and her ingredients for the good life.
Southern traditions and the tradition of mom’s recipe have played a huge role in your biscuits, but how have they played into your approach and strategy as an entrepreneur?
Probably the biggest example of tradition, specifically Southern tradition as it relates directly to my business would be keeping the recipe the same, and not changing for growth or other opportunities. If you think about it, making millions of biscuits by hand is certainly not the most efficient way to do it. Throughout my 11 years owning this business, countless times people have come into my life trying to convince me to change the process. I have to remind them and myself that tradition and the handmade art of biscuit making is what got me here. I don't want to mess with that -- it's my secret weapon and maybe a little bit of a curse. But it just means I might not be able to be all things to all people.
You’re also not just about baking for yourself. It’s so amazing that you run an incubator for other entrepreneurs. You help bake careers in a sense. Why was this an important extension of your biz?
My life is crazy busy with three businesses and three children--I don't have a lot of time to give back. So I thought, if I could help budding entrepreneurs start their dreams, that could be a way for me to give back. When I had the idea to start this biscuit business, no one had ever heard of one; I remember trying to pitch the idea, and I couldn't even get a realtor to call me back when I needed to lease a space! I had a very hard time convincing people--including my mom that this was a good idea. So I hope to help others that might be in a similar space to me 11 years ago! I also want to make an impact and be a mentor.
Did you have a mentor? What are some lessons you learned from them?
The most important mentor in my life has always been my father. Not only is he a successful business man for over 25 years, he had great balance with family. This has always been my number one goal: family first. My father has always wanted to help people, regardless of whether or not it benefitted him. I hope to be like that too.
You also have three children! So you’re mom, mom to your business, and let’s say, mom to the students you teach. How does it all work? How do you get the ingredients right?
There are only a couple of ingredients actually: keep it simple, be kind, work hard and be honest, and enjoy life. Since I am a mother to three children, I have a duty to do the right thing--I am their role model and they are always watching and listening. And I make mistakes everyday, but what I hope to teach my girls--not just my children but all my biscuit babes that work with me-- is that making mistakes is ok. It's how you handle the cleanup!
Speaking of students, what are a few failsafe tenets of brand building that you teach them?
Customer service is the most important facet of your business--it can make you or break you.
Work harder than you ever thought you could and when you think you can't work any harder--work some more.
Don't ever ask anyone to do anything you haven't already done before--no better way to get respect.
Treat everyone with kindness, whether it's your employees, the mailman, your customers, or the trash man.
What have you seen change over the last decade? How do you shift and adapt?
The biggest change I have seen is the social media/internet influence and online purchasing and communicating, which I guess is a great thing for my businesses. When I started Callie's Biscuits, buying food online was few and far between. Now, people are having their weeknight dinners shipped to them every day. Technology is a good thing, but if we aren't careful, it can also ruin us. Everything in moderation and sometimes the old way is better--I love answering the telephone at work and talking to customers!
If life was a recipe, what would yours be?
Surround yourself with good people
Mix all above ingredients and go! Life is short; have a ball!
What’s next? What else could you possible add?
A level of surprise! My favorite thing about life in the last five years is that you never know what tomorrow will bring! Now that I'm in my 40s, meeting the love of my life, having children, etc is over--life's greatest surprises. So my mantra is to keep creating new ones. I don't know what tomorrow will bring, but I know it will be good--and the best part about not knowing is that it will be a surprise. I feel very blessed and whatever is around the corner, I am ready and can't wait to see what it is! SURPRISE!