Welcome to FACES of Birmingham! We are so excited to launch this weekly feature! Each Monday we will introduce you to amazing women of Birmingham. To begin our series we bring you Deborah Stone of Stone Hollow Farms and Birmingham’s very own juice/raw bar, The Pantry, located in Cahaba Heights, with a second location now open in Crestline Village…
Where did you grow up?
Argo, Alabama, just outside of Birmingham. My family had a 40 acre farm. I have 3 brothers. We loved fishing, riding horses and gardening. My grandparents all were farmers and gardeners and shared their love of the land with us.
Tell us how Stone Hollow Farm and The Pantry came about.
My grandparents on my mother’s side also owned the local grocer in Hanceville, Alabama, called Bland and Bland Grocer. This is where it probably all began. The farm, was my present to my family after I sold the day spa I owned from 1989 – 1999. It was going to be a place to retreat to on the weekends.
In August of 2000 my husband and I purchased 80 acres and developed Stone Hollow Farmstead. I was raising Hanoverian horses, gardening and working towards developing a fully sustainable farm; however, after the tragedy of 9/11, completing this process seemed imperative. All that was needed was milk and meat, so I purchased 5 goats and Stone Hollow “Creamery” was born. Canning is one of my favorite pastimes, too, and I decided a cannery would be a great compliment to the creamery. When we needed a place in town to showcase our products, my youngest daughter, Alex, and I opened the first Farmstead Food Boutique in Cahaba Heights. I think it is appropriately named “The Pantry.” We offer a menu of farm-to-table foods and a boutique of canned retail items from the farm.
Soon after opening, a lifetime friend, Lee Shipp, joined us in our business. Alex and I had been juicing fresh pressed veggies for several years, so we put our concoctions on the menu. Our local community loved the juices and the unique concept of “The Pantry” so the three of us have just opened the second location for The Pantry and the Farmstead Food Boutique in Crestline, AL. This location offers a full cheese shop, retail wines, preserved foods from the farm, juice and smoothies and we serve lunch and dinner beginning in January.
You have a skincare line, too, right?
Yes, Botaniko by Deborah Stone. After the sale of the spa, I continued consulting with physicians and hospitals desiring to develop or integrate day spas into their existing programs. My pastime was spent developing a large herb garden at the farm while learning to distill herbs into beautiful hydrosols. Once I mastered this process I intended on developing a line of botanical-based body care products. This evolved into a full on skin care program that would use the power of the plants to get the job done. We also now have patents pending on a botanical extract and a wound care product. You can purchase Botaniko at Village Dermatology or Stonehollowfarmstead.com.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
I have been blessed to receive much great advice over the years, most of it from my husband, who is also my accountant and financial adviser. But, what comes to mind with this question is this: I had 20+ employees at the 3 year mile mark with my spa and I was struggling to develop a core group of strong team players. One day, the man who imported my European line of cosmetics, Darphin, came in and said one thing that changed my perspective forever. He said that I no longer needed to focus on being the best aesthetician, that I now needed to be the best teacher. “It’s ok for [your staff] to be better than you. Now you’re the coach, not the player.” Within a year I had a core team that ultimately stayed the course for the remainder of time I owned the spa. Today we are all still great friends!
What advice can you give to others who’d like to start their own business?
It is never as easy as you think it will be. Take a measure of your risk tolerance. Develop a plan for facing the valleys. Find business owners who are willing to share their experiences and do something with the information they share with you. Analyze everything, every piece of information you gather. As Winston Churchill said, “never quit.”
What is your favorite thing to do to relax?
I love a great pedicure. This is also great time to catch up on life with Alex (my youngest daughter).
Favorite thing to do on a Saturday night?
I love to get on the sofa with a glass of red wine, a good movie and snuggle with my hubby.
Favorite local restaurant?
I have many favorites! Birmingham is blessed with great chefs and great restaurants! We can all be proud of the dining opportunities Birmingham offers. I am honored to say that most all of the white table cloth restaurants here use Stone Hollow Farmstead Goat Cheese.
What are you listening to these days?
Praise music. I love Michael W. Smith and Kari Jobe. Green lemonade is fuel for my body, praise music is fuel for my soul!
What books are you currently reading?
I seem to be focused on health and wellness books at the moment. The Pantry Juice Bar is an important part of our business and I am studying to become a licensed health coach. The most recent reads have been raw food recipes and Healing the Gerson Way by Dr. Jim Gerson.
Do you have any personality quirks or irrational fears?
I have heard my friends describe me as fearless, so probably not much in terms of irrational fears. However, I believe the Bible is a literal source for living and preparing. I spend what I am sure would be considered an abnormal amount of time studying “End Times” information. Some would say this is fear. I say this is a solid belief in God’s word. As for personality quirks, I am a workaholic. Health and wellness trends intrigue me.
Name three things you can’t live without excluding God, family and friends.
Truly nothing follows those three, but if you insist, unsweetened tea, my chiropractor and the animals at the farm.
Thanks for sharing with us, Deborah!
And thanks to Beth of Beth Hontzas Photography for the amazing photos! To learn more about Beth check out her website and blog at www.bethhontzas.com.
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