We had the good fortune of connecting with Pam & Sara Brand and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Pam & Sara, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
When we first began Biscuits & Burlap, we didn’t really think of it as a business. Mom told me that she was trying to come up with a way to preserve and share our old family recipes in such a way that my brothers and I, and eventually our children and grandchildren, could access them. At first she was thinking about an online database, and then I suggested a blog. Early on she didn’t see the point of making such a thing public like that. Would anyone outside our family even care? But then I brought up the current culture where people my age (millennials) often didn’t grow up cooking with their moms like my mom’s generation did. Now, they’re all grown up and have families of their own or are hosting parties and cooking for holidays, but they don’t have that foundation of knowledge that comes from growing up helping in the kitchen. So they turn to Pinterest and food blogs to guide them. In the simplest of terms, I told my Mom “We know things. People want to know the things we know.” And so it was decided that we would start Biscuits & Burlap. Eventually we monetized it and learned about advertising, affiliate marketing, sponsored content, and contracting ourselves as food photographers and recipe developers. What started as a family project grew into a family business.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
We started this project nearly six years ago without knowing anything at all about blogging or photography. All we knew was that we wanted to preserve our family recipes, share our love for and knowledge of cooking with the world, and to be honest, just do something together as mother and daughter. Any blogger will tell you that we are lifelong learners. You’re never done growing your blog or making it better, and just when you think you’ve got something figured out, the blogging community tells you that an algorithm has changed or the “best practices” have been altered and there’s more work to be done. Some days it’s overwhelming, but we’re lucky to not be doing this on our own. I don’t think either one of us could. We call on each other’s strengths daily. My mom is better at photography than I am so I often take food to her house so she can help me photograph it. She says her photography is what she’s most proud of, inspired by her father’s photography (including food) when she was growing up. I am more technically inclined than her, so she frequently asks me to follow up on technical changes that need to be made to improve SEO. I knew nothing about coding when I got into this and I’m still no expert, but when I make a change in the code and it does what I want it to do, I feel like a super hero. The main thing that keeps us going when we feel like it’s all too much is the way the blog brings us together as a family. It makes us proud to know that we are inspiring others in the kitchen and giving them a way to bring their own families together.
Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
Refuge Coffee Co. in Clarkston- The diversity in this refugee community is so refreshing and Refuge is a non-profit business that benefits the local population. Also their coffee and drinks are wonderful!
1910 Public House in Lilburn- This place is amazing! Much like the food on our blog, they have southern classics with a modern twist. Sprig in Oak Grove- I believe they’re actually the same company that owns 1910 Public House so expect similarly incredible southern food. Their amazing bourbon selection is what keeps me coming back, though! Twain’s in Decatur- I love Twain’s for so many reasons. Their food is wonderful, they brew their own fantastic beer, and there’s tons of games like billiards, darts, Golden Tee, and shuffle board.
Hal’s in Buckhead- This place is an Atlanta institution. They have the best steaks in the city and impeccable service. Beware there’s smoking allowed in the bar, but that just adds to its old school charm in our opinion!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Above all else, Biscuits & Burlap is a family business. The recipes and photography come from my mom and me, but behind the scenes is my dad, Buddy, helping with the grilling and smoking and being the ultimate taste-tester. Then there are my brothers, Will and James, forever sending us ideas and helping us tweak recipes as they cook them for their own families. There’s also the countless grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins that have inspired our love of food and family and taught us the value of using good cooking to bring everyone together.