“From her beautiful meals to her thoughtful smoothies, I was instantly drawn to Barrett and her ideals of healthy family living. She is an example of the cook I’d like to be, effortlessness, healthy, and delicious. You could probably say that about everything she touches....”
- Christy Dawn
Story and Interview by Chasity Glass
Much like Christy, I’ve got a girl crush. Mine too started with @valleybrinkroad ogling over epic flower formations, delectable dishes, kiddo cuddles, and a broad smile that is undeniably catching. Witnessing another mother preparing fetching foods for her family, I too want to be that mom. Effortless, healthy and delicious. But it wasn’t her yummy blog or her gorgeous gift company, Valleybrink Road. What solidified my crush was her raw honesty throughout our interview, her stepping outside a social persona and into her captivating core, her straightforward character.
How do you know Christy Dawn?
I met Christy at her shop one day. I strolled into Christy Dawn and instantly fell in love with the clothing. We then followed each other on Instagram and became fast friends.
Okay, so, you’re an easy one to stock on Instagram and social media as you have such compelling content with beautiful imagery. For those who don't know Valleybrink Road, tell us what you do.
I have a floral design and gifting company called Valleybrink Road. What originally started as a food blog quickly became a catering company, and then grew into gifting and floral design. In the past year, we closed the catering portion and are now focusing more on developing a lifestyle brand and launching products.
What kind of products?
Chocolate bars, pantry items, items that fit into the gift boxes we create and that we might also sell to a select number of shops and stores. Our ‘sweet boxes’ are our top-selling gift packaging, so it seems like a natural addition.
What compelled you to do this? To create moments?
In my 20s I worked in fashion. I did everything from sales to pattern making to product design. I always wanted to be a fashion designer and have a clothing line. When I met my husband, we wanted to do something together. We started a handbag line. [Long story short.] It didn’t work. At 29, I had to redefine what I wanted to do. Was I going to go back to an office job? Honestly, I couldn’t stomach the thought of it. [Big. Long. Laugh]. I decided to look at my life and see what I actually enjoyed, and everything came back to food. In my free time, all I wanted to do was cook for friends, and have people over, go to farmers markets, create recipes, have gardens. It was a hobby I never thought of as a career. So I pursued it. I went to work for a restaurant and a few catering companies. It was something I loved to do. One of the companies I used to work for catered to small parties, with an intimate setting. You went into someone’s home and cooked a meal for them. I knew this was it. My calling. A personal chef. To come into a home with all the beautiful ingredients and cook a fresh meal for a small gathering. From there, I started a blog with featured meals, and well, that’s how Valleybrink Road began.
Where does the name ‘Valleybrink Road’ come from?
It’s the street we live on. I didn’t overthink it. I needed a name for my blog, and there it was.
It takes a unique kind of person to entertain or host a group...
[Another big laugh. It is loud and lively and unexpectedly contagious.]
I love that you laughed before I even finished the question.
Why do you do it? Why entertain?
I get deep satisfaction by curating a moment for people, and by sharing a meal I have created that nourishes friends. At dinner parties, I hate for people to bring anything (but wine). I just love the process of planning a menu, buying the quality ingredients and arranging all the details before everyone arrives. Witnessing the joy and excitement that people share over a meal… is why I do this.
I can’t wait until you invite me for dinner.
I’ll have you over anytime! Though, I hate potlucks. Don’t invite me.
[Again, her honest laugh.]
What gets you out of bed each morning?
My son, Costa. His little voice at 5 am. “Momma, get up.”
Now that you are a parent, how has life changed?
It’s changed in many ways. The biggest thing for me is maximizing the productive use of my time. Before I had a child, I had so much freedom to go about my day. Now, I am a bit more scheduled, and my time managing needs to be much more efficient. Oh, and I’ve let go of spontaneity... no quick romantic getaways, and a lot fewer movie dates.
Has your work changed now that you have a child?
I was worried that the business would suffer due to time constraints, but it has been the opposite. I am more focused, more driven, more passionate, all of those things got ignited after my son was born. I felt a strong community of women spring up around me, and I feel so supported as a mother and as a business owner.
What are your two favorite recipes that you can recommend for a busy mom to share with her family? (Totally, selfish question.)
For someone who follows you on Instagram, your recipes look delicious. Your meals perfection. Pure envy. Are there any secrets you can share for all of us parents out there on how to care for your family through cooking?
The best advice I can give parents is trying to take a little time on the weekend to prep for the week. Even if it just means washing the lettuce and making a batch of brown rice or quinoa. It is so helpful to have some things on hand that are ready to go, so your meal prep can be quick and easy. Also, include your kids in the cooking. Little things like letting them scramble the eggs or clean the snap peas, will encourage them to be in the kitchen and start establishing a connection for them with real food.
Your favorite Christy Dawn dress and why?
The Dawn dress. I have four of them. My husband asks, “Don’t you have that dress?” My instant response, “CLEARLY, this is a different pattern.” I love them. I want to feel pretty and put together, but I need it to be functional and make sense for running after a kid, and snuggly and wrestling. I love the dresses because they are functional, yet you feel so beautiful.
My husband tries to get me to watch a movie or TV show at night. I fall asleep two minutes in. Every. Single. Night.
What is a goal you hope to achieve in this lifetime?
To be a great mom. To raise a wonderful, thoughtful human being. [Big laugh] I’m working on that one. Day by day, minute by minute, hour by hour.