Brandi Marter is pretty much the definition of a woman on the go. She’s the chef owner of food service company Bedrock Eats and Sweets. Her paleo/primal empire includes a full service restaurant, a food truck, an online meal delivery service, and grab and go food kiosks all around Memphis.
Brandi lost everything when her high paying job of twelve years disappeared after the financial crisis. She worked a lot of different jobs looking for something that would fit her. Finally, she realized she had to do something that she wouldn’t dread every morning. With nothing left to protect and no children, Brandi found herself unconcerned about a paycheck.
She’d made wedding cakes out of her home for a few years due to a random second job. This roundabout opportunity taught her all the basics and although unqualified, she replied to a Craigslist ad for a pastry chef. Eight years later here she is the owner of very own food business. Read on for a raw look at what it’s like to take a leap of faith when you have no idea what you’re doing and to successfully learn along the way!
When did you know that you wanted to call the shots?
I always daydreamed about owning my own business. I’m not sure I was ever really brave enough to want to once I knew what was involved… thank goodness for friends that push you to do what you’re afraid of!
Why this business?
There are many reasons but in the end it’s really about helping people who want to do better. Changing your lifestyle is difficult and it’s easier a lot of the time to give up and go back to old habits. Bedrock helps to keep people that are struggling from throwing in the towel. That makes me happy.
Please describe your typical day.
I usually get to the shop awhile before we open so I can sit in the quiet and have a coffee before all hell breaks loose. Once the doors are open, we’re slinging food and making deliveries. I’m cooking and doing administrative work while trying to grab bites of food in between.
I always leave for a couple of hours to go down the street to CrossFit Hit and Run and work myself into forgetting how irritated I was at whatever problem has popped up during the day. Restaurants have so many more mechanical/production issues than people not involved in the inner workings realize. I spend the late afternoons closing down the shop and getting us ready for the next day. I tend to watch mindless TV with my dogs when I get home. It’s far more satisfying than it sounds!I struggle just like everyone else does. It just happens that my fight is one that I've chosen. Click To Tweet
What’s the best decision you ever made that moved your business forward?
Moving out into our own space and separating from our former parent company to become our own entity was the best decision I’ve ever made. I was simply an employee before. I was the only reason Bedrock existed. I was the only Bedrock employee at the time but I wasn’t profiting in any way from the business being successful. Separating made Bedrock mine not only in spirit but, finally, in reality.
I was stuck before in the comfortability of knowing that if it failed it wasn’t on my shoulders. Once I took that step I realized that instead of it being a burden (employees relying on me, bank account balances to worry about, taxes to pay, etc.) it was a gift. It’s still hard and those burdensome things are still something that I have to deal with but the good most definitely outweighs the bad.
Tell me about a growing pain you’ve experienced in your business.
Once we moved into our own space and opened as an actual full service restaurant I really had no idea what I was doing. Those first few weeks of sheer terror and no sleep were the stuff nightmares are made of. Of course it just took some time and we’ve settled in now but the beginning was rough.
I had never cooked to order before I opened the new location. I didn’t know the meaning of most of the words in my operating agreement. I had no idea how to calculate food cost and deal with appropriate percentages in the world of profit margins. Dividends were a mystery to me. I truly knew almost nothing about what I was doing.The fact that I own this business does not make me rich or cool. I think the opposite is more true. Click To Tweet
I’m by no means a stupid woman. I’ve done a lot of things in my life that involved me taking on something I was unfamiliar with and more than a little afraid of. I knew I’d learn but having all of that unknown hovering over you like a cloud is daunting. I couldn’t turn off my mind. I was awake every night wide-eyed and neurotic about what to do first and how to gain all of this knowledge.
But in the end it’s that drive to learn and that need to know that made me get down to business fast. I dove in head first. I still mess up all the time. That’s ok with me and, thankfully, ok with my staff and customer base. Communication and care is all people really need. If you tell them what’s going on and make sure they know how much you want to take care of them they tend to be very forgiving of your momentary ignorance. I grew and I kept my head high. I’m still doing those things every day.It's that drive to learn & that need to know that made me get down to business fast. I dove in… Click To Tweet
What was the biggest change in your business this year?
The food truck! Making that decision and moving forward with it has been a fun process and I’m really glad I wasn’t too chicken to do it.
What are you most excited about right now for your business?
The spring/summer. We opened in July of last year and, of course, weren’t ready to capitalize on the amazing street we’re on. We have these great patio doors that open up the entire front of the restaurant onto the sidewalk. South Main will be full of people and I want to feed them all!
What is your favorite thing about Monday?
I get organized on Mondays. I pay bills, I write schedules, I do inventory. That sounds brutal but after I’m done I feel good and definitely less burdened.
Owning your own business is hard. I’m lucky to be able to do it and I understand that completely but I think people have an idealistic view of entrepreneurship. The fact that I own this business does not make me rich or cool. I think the opposite is more true. I struggle just like everyone else does. It just happens that my fight is one that I’ve chosen.