"Throughout the years, PNC has looked out for us like a small community bank would. Our banking team provides a level of personalized care and attention you wouldn't expect of a bank its size."
She Sells Retail - and Wholesale - by the Seashore
Pam Barefoot will tell you that the secret to launching and growing a successful business is to stay true to your vision. She has not, in the past 28 years, strayed from her own: "to share our part of the world, create jobs in this rural community, survive creatively and enjoy each day."
Pam's part of the world is the Eastern Shore of Virginia, an unassuming sliver of land between the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean connected to Virginia only by the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. With fewer than 50,000 residents, this remote region in the heart of blue crab country is rife with beach-inspired artisans who create masterpieces ranging from decoys and watercolors to home-canned peaches and preserves.
"When my husband, Jim, and I moved here in 1984, he was quickly hired by a local boat builder, but I found few career opportunities for myself," shares Pam. "Impressed by the local craftspeople, I thought, Why not create a mail-order business to share the treasures of this unique region with the rest of the world?"
After months of combing the community for products and concocting foodstuffs in her own kitchen, Pam launched Bay Beyond Inc., a wholesale distributor and parent company of Blue Crab Bay, a retail store. Today, these businesses manufacture and sell a broad array of coastal-inspired products including chowders, snacks, dips, seasonings, hand-painted stoneware, gifts, handmade seaweed soaps and beverage mixers including the award-winning, perennial best-seller Sting Ray® Bloody Mary Mixer.
Turning $1,000 into $3 Million
Capitalized by a $1,000 loan from a friend, Pam navigated rough waters her first year in business. Shortly after opening, her office was destroyed by fire. Just as she regained her sea legs, Hurricane Gloria inflicted more damage. Then Jim lost his job. Undaunted, Pam persevered. In 1987, she published her first mail-order catalog and entered SELF magazine's Fresh Start contest for startup entrepreneurs.
Winning SELF's $7,500 grand prize turned the tide, enabling Pam to develop a more extensive brochure, open her retail store and participate in trade shows across the nation. Her relationship with PNC dates back to that pivotal moment as well. "I immediately deposited my $7,500 prize into a new account at F&M Bank, which later became Mercantile and is now PNC," says Pam. "PNC has supported our efforts ever since. Throughout the years, PNC has looked out for us like a small community bank would. Our banking team provides a level of personalized care and attention you wouldn't expect of a bank its size."
Within two years, Pam's products began winning awards from the Fancy Food Show, scoring national publicity for Blue Crab Bay and Bay Beyond from Food Network and Inc., Southern Living, Coastal Living and Entrepreneur magazines. Awareness soared, sales reached $3 million and when the company peaked, Pam had created 25 jobs.
Although the economic downturn has dampened revenues the past several years, Pam continues to stand steady. "We have a lot of irons in the fire: new retailers signing on to carry our products, a 20th anniversary push in the works for our flagship Bloody Mary mixer and a variety of new profit-building ideas in test," says the 2011 winner of the University of Virginia's Darden School of Business' Tayloe Murphy Resilience Award. "We know how great the potential is for this company. We're pulling out all the stops to get it back to top performance."
|Committed to supporting the achievement of women in business, PNC recently held a sweepstakes with the grand prize of sending one winner to the 2013 C200 Annual Conference. The Committee of 200 (C200) is a membership organization of the world's most successful women entrepreneurs and corporate innovators, and has more than 400 members who collectively generate more than $200 billion in annual revenues.
Pam attended the 2013 C200 Annual Conference in New York City as the winner of PNC's first C200 sweepstakes. Congratulations, Pam!
Stingray® is a registered tradmark of Blue Crab Bay Co.