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Thursday, August 1, 2013

MOVERS and SHAKERS: Pamela Barefoot, Founder and President of Bay Beyond, Inc. and Blue Crab Bay Company Our Coverage Sponsored by Church Brothers

Pamela Barefoot

Church Brothers is a family owned & operated grower/shipper of fresh produce located in the heart of the Salad Bowl of America; Salinas, California. For generations the Church family has been serving its customers with healthy and safe produce. Today, Church Brothers (Tom & Steve Church) farms over 30,000 acres in California, Arizona and Mexico. Our core items include field-direct commodities like iceberg, romaine, broccoli, etc. and Value-Added, Processed items like spring mix, spinach, arugula, fresh-cut salad blends, broccoli & cauliflower florets, cilantro, parsley and kale items. Over the last few years, we’ve become more “taste-sensitive” and created several unique and award-winning items like Wasabi Arugula, Italian Greens, Baby Kales Blend and most recently Red Heirloom Spinach. Passion for our business, respect for our customers, innovation and sustainable farming and processing practices have always been the drivers to Church Brothers’ success. Please visit our website to learn more about our company, our people, product and services.

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Pamela Barefoot is the founder and president of Bay Beyond Inc., trading internationally as Blue Crab Bay Co®. After having moved to the rural Eastern Shore of Virginia intent on surviving on her creativity, Pam began the specialty food brand on her farmhouse kitchen table in 1985.

Blue Crab Bay food and stoneware products are sold in gourmet shops, department and gift stores, and through the company’s consumer website and gift shop. Best sellers include the award-winning Sting Ray® Spicy Bloody Mary Mixer, Sea Salt Nuts®, Crab Dip Kit, and She-Crab Soup.

Pam was the 1999 Small Business Administration Virginia Small Business Person of the Year and was honored in 2003 by the SBA in Washington, D.C., as being one of the nation’s top female entrepreneurs. She served on the board of the New York-based National Association for the Specialty Food Trade, producer of the International Fancy Food Show, for 11 years. Her female-operated company supports the United Way, Relay for Life, and many regional efforts, including the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

Pam’s transition into the food industry came from having self-published a coffee table book of photographs and interviews in 1978 called Mules & Memories: A Photo Documentary of the Tobacco Farmer. This creative endeavor helped her realize that her heart was set on being her own boss and carving out her own future, as her family’s roots were embedded in entrepreneurship.

A Claire Murray book entitled Women & The Sea profiles 16 women, including Pam, whose lives have been influenced by the water. Pam and her husband, Jim Green, live on a saltwater peninsula with a Labradoodle named Shiloh. They enjoy crabbing off their dock and making crab cakes, fishing, kayaking, and traveling. Don Henley may have penned The Boys of Summer, but we choose to write on this Girl of Summer! We could not be more thrilled to present Pamela Barefoot as our latest Mover and Shaker! Peachy Deegan interviewed Pamela Barefoot for Whom You Know.  We honor her by writing in her color.
Peachy and Pam at The Fancy Food Show New York 2013

Peachy Deegan: What is your first seafood memory?
Pamela Barefoot: Eating deviled crabs at the lunch counter in a Woolworth’s in Raleigh NC in the early 1960's with my mother, after a morning of shopping for school clothes in the “big city”

How is one able to "survive on creativity"?
Not accepting a regular job but creating one that allows you to live the lifestyle of your choice, in my case, in a rural coastal area with fishing, clamming, crabbing and a slower pace of life.

Has your brand evolved the way you expected it to?
Growth started out really fast but stagnated over the past few years; there are still kazillions of people who are not familiar with our brand, which is frustrating as we’d like to grow our business and create more jobs in our rural economy, one of the poorest regions of Virginia.

What have been the biggest challenges in creating your brand and how did you rise to the occasion and meet them?
My business has always been undercapitalized; hence we have had to grow the brand on a shoestring budget, doing everything ourselves including photography and marketing. The lack of contact with civilization was a barrier for many of the early years, but the advent of the Internet and email really helped us overcome that obstacle and connect with the world.

What have been the best surprises in building your brand?
Numerous awards at the Fancy Food Show in New York City; great staff who feel like they own the company; the fact that I could start something on a kitchen table that now sells internationally, even though I started with a thousand dollar loan from a friend.

What should everyone know about crabs that they probably don't know yet?
If one gets hold of you with its claw, you will scream bloody murder. A “jimmy” is a male crab and a “sook” is a female crab. You can tell which sex they are by the look of the “apron” on their belly. The female’s apron look like a pyramid (immature) or a plump breast (mature); the males look rather phallic! Soft shell crabs from the Chesapeake Bay region are the best way to eat them. The other thing people need to know is they aren’t just “Maryland Crabs”, look at a map of the Chesapeake Bay and see how much coastline Virginia has on the Bay. It is very likely that the Maryland Soft Shells on your menu came from Virginia. Maryland obviously has done a better job of marketing crabs.

What or who has had the most influence on your pursuit of excellence?
My pursuit of excellence comes from an inner drive to succeed and to make things work out despite the odds. I come from a long line of entrepreneurial farmers, who had to make crops grow “come hell or high water.”

What are you proudest of and why?
That I’ve been able to keep my company alive for 28 years despite lack of funds and experience and our rural location; that I truly did create a lifestyle job for myself after moving here in 1984 with that dream in mind.

What would you like to do professionally that you have not yet had the opportunity to do?
I would like to write some more books and publish some articles about Southern folks I photographed back in the 1970s.

What honors and awards have you received in your profession?

1986 Fresh Start Award from SELF Magazine

1999 Virginia Small Business Person of the Year

2003 Outstanding Woman Entrepreneur from the US Small Business Administration

2010 Finalist, National Indie Excellence Awards, Pet Book Category, My Bird Bud, the Corporate Cockatiel

2010 Chairman’s Award for Resilience from the Tayloe Murphy Center at UVA’s Darden School of Business

What one word best describes you and why?
Resilient. Despite any odds, I keep trying.

What is your favorite place to be in Manhattan?
In the back seat of a cab on my way to LaGuardia to fly home to the Eastern Shore of Virginia! Crossing the Chesapeake Bay-Bridge Tunnel after landing in Norfolk is when I can really take a deep breath and relax.

What is your favorite shop in Manhattan?
The Lobster Place and Citarella because they carry Blue Crab Bay Co. products.

If you could hire anybody who would it be and why?
Oprah, she could help me get more exposure, grow my business and create more jobs on the Eastern Shore.

What is your favorite drink?
Blue Crab Bay Co.’s Sting Ray Bloody Mary Mixer. Eighteen years ago it was featured in the New York Times as the “best” in a blind taste test of 8 Bloody Mary Mixers, but the food writer forgot to mention our company name and we didn’t get any orders.

What is the funniest thing that has ever happened to you at a cocktail party?
Many years ago my boyfriend came out of the bathroom at an elegant party, antiques and oriental rugs everywhere---he had toilet tissue stuffed in his rear pants pocket and let it trail behind him throughout the house as a joke. I was so embarrassed, but now I can look back and laugh.

What is your favorite restaurant in Manhattan?
Anything Indian, we don’t have Indian restaurants on the Eastern Shore…the closest is nearly a 1.5 hour drive and a $17 roundtrip toll.

What is your favorite Manhattan book or favorite character in Manhattan literature?
I’d like to read Crustaceans by William Meikle but it’s out of print---sounds like a fun horror read featuring giant crabs devouring the city!

Who would you like to be for a day and why?
Oprah, so I could tell the world about how great Blue Crab Bay Co. products are.

If you could have anything in Manhattan named after you what would it be and why?
A new bridge out of the city named The Barefoot Bridge, which leads folks out to the country for some fresh air.

What has been your best Manhattan athletic experience?
Getting knocked down on the street by a naked dazed guy who was thrown off the back of a truck in heavy traffic on the Lower East Side. The witnesses weren’t concerned about him, they were concerned about me!

What is your favorite thing to do in Manhattan that you can do nowhere else?
Ride the wooden escalators at Macy’s.

If you could have dinner with any person living or passed, who would it be and why?
My best friend, Larry, who died on July 4, 2010 after being stung on the ear by a honey bee in my swimming pool. I would like to hear his joyful laughter one more time.

What has been your best Manhattan art or music experience?
I stood in line for the bathroom with singer Odetta at the now closed Folk City on W. 3rd Street during her performance, we chatted, that was memorable for a young gal from the country!

What do you personally do or what have you done to give back to the world?
I have created jobs in a rural, economically-deprived area and encouraged my employees to blossom as human beings. I get involved in activities to promote tourism on our rural peninsula.  
I donated my large 1970's collection of interviews and Kodachrome transparencies of Southern tobacco farm families to the University of NC’s Southern Folklore Center in Chapel Hill.

What do you think is most underrated and overrated here?
Underrated – the water taxi experience, great to get out there and see the city from the water!
Overrated - the city itself; I feel sorry for the people who live there who have no experience living anywhere else and never leave the City….they miss out on quiet country sounds and the bright stars.

Other than Movers and Shakers of course, what is your favorite Whom You Know column and what do you like about it?
Peachy’s Picks –I love to look at the photos of food! Living in a rural area, dining out in Manhattan is always a pleasure.

Have you tried The Peachy Deegan yet and if not, why not? 
Haven’t tried it but I’ve seen photos and it looks like a refreshing summer drink! Can I have the recipe?  (Note from Peachy-it is Star Vodka with fresh peach juice and lime)

What else should Whom You Know readers know about you?
My mother was the National Ladies’ Hollerin’ Champ of Spivey’s Corner NC in 1978; she’s 86 and still managing her azalea nursery in NC.

How would you like to be contacted by Whom You Know readers?

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