Meet Mary

Hey y’all, we have decided to take the time to tell you all a little bit about our background. I volunteered myself to take one for the team and start us off. A little on my background and schooling: I am a Birmingham native and went to Mountain Brook High School. I graduated and went on to Washington and Lee to finish with a BA in English Literature. Lastly, I finished up at the French Culinary Institute in New York City.

Many people ask me how I got started in the food industry. I actually got started at my mother’s suggestion. I worked in restaurant kitchens during my college years in the summer and during the school year. First, I worked at Azalea when I was 18 (which is now where Ocean is located). Then, I started at Daniel George the summer it opened when I was 19. It was an amazing learning experience for me at such a young age! The chefs really took me under their wing. I definitely knew I wanted to pursue culinary as a career, and probably not in restaurants.

Now onto where my interest in meal delivery got started: To start, I worked on a paleo cookbook with Kat Cobbs for her website. She suggested I meet with the owners of Iron Tribe, who were looking to change vendors for their meal program at the gym. I thought it was going to be a small part-time catering gig where I would be delivering a few meals here and there to the gym. But within the first 2 weeks, it completely swallowed me whole and put this business on the trajectory to where we are now! That was over five years ago, back when prepared meal delivery wasn't even really a "business" yet. 

As this business has grown to what it is now, I have made an effort to manage a healthy work/life balance. This is something I get questioned on often as mother and business owner. If I’m being completely open and honest, starting a business is like having an infant. It is full-time, requires constant care, and needs attention 24/7. So that's what life was like for me in 2012 and 2013. I was a full-time working single mom, trying to start a business and be all things to all people (as you can imagine... it didn't work so well!). Probably a year into the business, my mom said "You are working yourself into the ground. If you'd don't hire more people, you will miss out on your daughter’s formative years." That was pretty eye-opening to hear from my mom and she was right! So, we hired more people, I eventually convinced Tiffany to come on board and work life improved dramatically from that point on. 

Our business is still in start-up mode, but we have a flexible work schedule that allows for family time as well. I come in early in the morning, and am able to pick up my daughter from elementary school most days. We spend the afternoon with her and my twin boys (2.5yo). We have a great nanny that keeps the twins from 7am-4pm and helps out with a ton of stuff, so when I am home I can be present and enjoy my time with them! I have a great husband that helps on the weekends and evenings when I need to continue doing work after the kids are down. It is NOT easy, by any stretch, but I think it's a constant work in progress. My daughter, Betsy, has literally grown up in the kitchen and seen the hard work that goes into starting and running a business from the ground up. It may be my "mommy guilt" but I hope that as she becomes an adult she will appreciate it!

 

Mary Drennen