Today we welcome Patricia Barnes of Sister Schubert’s Rolls as our FACE of the South. Baker, businesswoman and philanthropist, this Troy, AL, native brought America its first frozen, ready-made yeast rolls in 1989—always made true to her grandmother’s recipe. Patricia continues to rise above with her work through the Barnes Family Foundation she and her husband, George, founded in 2001, and we’re delighted to share our interview with her here:
Tell us about the Barnes Foundation and Sasha’s Home.
George and I formed the Barnes Family Foundation with the proceeds from the sale of our stock in Sister Schubert’s Rolls in 2001. We were very blessed and wanted to give something back to the people and communities that had been so good to us. The foundation helps to feed the hungry, comes to the aid of orphaned and abandoned children here and abroad, and provides a college scholarship to a deserving student. Our foundation is extremely proud to have been able to restore an abandoned kindergarten site in Gorlovka, Ukraine, and turn it into a foster home for orphaned and abandoned children in that country. Sasha’s Home is a bright yellow, beautiful place where right now there are forty-eight of the most deserving children being loved and cared for by their foster parents!
Tell us about the biggest roadblock you’ve overcome.
Of course being a female trying to start a company over 20 years ago would have to be at the top of the list of possible roadblocks, but I just kept proving myself over and over to the bankers, contractors, and grocery buyers.
I really never thought of things as roadblocks. I headed out everyday to accomplish what I needed to that day to get to the next step. I always had my sights set on my goal which was to make the finest breads available in the grocery stores across America that you could buy. But I didn’t want to become overwhelmed, so I just took it one step at a time.
What are some of your favorite holiday traditions?
My favorite holiday tradition is gathering all my children and grandchildren, the neighborhood children and all the children from our church at our home to make wonderful Christmas sugar cookies. We then load up and deliver the cookies to the assisted living homes around Andalusia and sing a few Christmas carols. There are colored sugar sprinkles being swept up for weeks afterwards, but we all have so much fun!
What books are on your bedside table or e-reader?
My Bible, the latest Clive Cussler novel and and my favorite, recently purchased cookbook. Right now it is The Hot and Hot Fish Club cookbook from the restaurant in Birmingham.
What’s your favorite thing to do on a Saturday night?
Attend an Auburn football game! War Eagle! Of course that won’t last all year, so the rest of the time I would have to say a slow boat ride from our beach house down to my favorite restaurant for dinner with my husband and any of our children and friends tagging along.
How do you recharge your batteries?
By sitting on our screen porch here in Andalusia or at the beach and needlepointing.
Did you have any mentors along the way?
My grandmother Leona Henderson Wood was my first role model of an entrepreneur female, and she also is the one who taught me how to make her wonderful little Parker House yeast rolls when I was only 12. There have been several others who helped me to grow our bakery: Bill Cauldwell, my plant manager for 20 years, my husband George Barnes, with his advice and knowledge of the grocery business of 45 years now, and all of the dedicated staff and supervisors who have so carefully made these rolls all these years.
Do you have any sage advice that you’ve leaned on over the years? What advice would you give others?
When something would come up that was something I did not feel comfortable deciding on, I have always sought advice from the people that had the expertise and knowledge that I did not have. I do know this: you must believe in yourself and in your product or service. Grow as fast as you can, but as slowly as you have to to maintain your quality. All things are possible with God’s help. I believe I was lucky to bring a product to the marketplace at just the right time—a fully-baked frozen yeast roll—when there was nothing else like it at the time. We filled a niche in the grocery stores, and that made it much easier to sell.
If you could have lunch with any woman in the world, who would it be and what would you order?
If I could have lunch with any woman it would have to be two women.
Julia Child was the first woman that I remember to have a cooking class on TV and write multiple cookbooks.
Another woman who has had a great influence on me and my continued love and passion for cooking and baking is my dear friend Betty Sims from Decatur, AL. Together with our husbands, we were so fortunate to travel to the south of France last fall and attend cooking classes at Julia and Paul’s chateau. We talked about how incredibly wonderful it would have been if we could have had Julia teaching us about French cuisine and for the two of us to have dined with her. I’m sure the menu would have included a fabulous roast duckling with a reduction sauce, one of her divine soups, maybe some fresh vegetables from her garden, and of course a chocolate souffle or creme brulee for dessert. And of course fabulous wine from that region of France and champagne for the dessert course. Yum! Betty and I are working on a new cookbook together about Holiday Cooking. We are including all holidays and lots of menus and ideas for entertaining with ease. You are the first to know this!
Do you have any personality quirks or irrational fears?
Heights always scare me. My oldest child, Charlotte Marie, fell out of a second story window when she was only 2. Amazingly she was fine, but I never got over that fear of anyone up higher than four feet off the ground.
If your house were on fire, what non-living thing would you grab?
The drawer in the den that is full of our family pictures for sure.
Name three things you can’t live without, excluding God, family & friends.
- Diet Coke
- Sister Schubert Orange Rolls
- A good, no great, bottle of wine!
Thanks for sharing, Patricia! To learn more about The Barnes Foundation and Sasha’s House, visit their website at www.barnesfamilyfoundation.org and to learn more about Sister Schubert’s products visit www.sisterschuberts.com.