Social Media Handles:
Short Business Description:
Valleybrink Road is boutique catering, gifting, and floral design company.
If you follow the social media accounts of LA’s most high-profile women, chances are you have seen the work of caterer, gifter, and florist extraordinaire Barrett Prendergast. Barrett initially launched her company, Valleybrink Road, as a small catering business, and caught the eye and imagination of her flourishing client list through well-crafted and whimsical Instagram photos. Her thoughtfully curated gift boxes became central to her success, and her warm personality doesn’t hurt either. She was kind enough to invite us into her light-filled home to show us how she manages it all. With cameos from her son, her husband, and her rescue pup, we got to see a beautiful slice of Valleybrink Road in action. Read on to learn about the tough road Barrett travelled to build this beautiful gem.
Before launching Valleybrink Road, what did you do?
Barrett: My husband and I had a women’s luxury handbag line called Sud de Sur.
Can you describe the services that Valleybrink Road provides?
Barrett: We love to make things beautiful. Whether it be the food you are eating, the gift you are giving, or the flowers that are brightening someone’s day, it all comes back to that idea. Our boutique catering services focus on organic, seasonal, and farmer’s market inspired dishes. We primarily cater small events and parties at people’s homes, focusing on making those intimate gatherings memorable and delicious. Our gifting and floral design philosophies come from the same place. Creating thoughtful, elegant, and beautiful gift boxes and flower arrangements that will make someone feel really special and loved.
How did you get your start in the catering/gifting industry?
Barrett: My husband and I had come to the difficult conclusion that our handbag company was just not a viable business endeavor. We had to make a change. I was either going to have to go back and find a job in fashion (where I had spent the last 8 years of my life) or look forward to something new. When asking myself what I really enjoyed in life at that time, I kept coming back to food. Cooking, entertaining, making recipes, was all I was doing in my free time. So, I decided to see what I could do in the world of food. I worked in a restaurant, and then for 2 catering companies, and then started a food blog. My friends started asking if I would come cook at their houses and I said yes. That is how Valleybrink Road was born. All because of one simple word, Yes.
Did you have any formal business training before launching?
Barrett: No formal business training, although going through the trials and tribulations of our handbag line was very valuable. It taught me a lot and helped me make better, more informed decisions the second time around.
When did you decide to make it a full-time business?
Barrett: Four months into catering on my own I saw that it could really be something. I left the other companies I was working for and officially started Valleybrink Road.
What was your biggest fear before launching Valleybrink Road?
Barrett: That I would have to go get a job in some office, doing something I wasn’t passionate about, working for someone else.
Your Glass Ceiling Turning Point
Was there any specific moment that led you to launch a business?
Barrett: The first dinner party I catered. Of course, it was SOOO stressful and really overwhelming. But, it was also incredibly exhilarating and fulfilling. I left feeling excited and inspired. In that moment, I started to really believe in myself and my ability to take that leap.
How did you get the courage to make the jump into entrepreneurship?
Barrett: I guess in some ways, I didn’t really feel like their was much of a choice. I wasn’t going back to a job I didn’t like, working for someone else. I wanted something of my own. Once I started to believe I could change the path I was on, I began to connect with a lot women who gave me the encouragement I needed.
Is there anyone in particular who influenced your journey?
Barrett: Corina Weibel, the chef and owner of Canele in Atwater Village, helped change everything for me. She is the only person who would give me a chance in a restaurant kitchen (I was just a girl who liked to cook at home for friends!), encouraged me, shared her knowledge and love for food, and taught me a lot about balance in a dish, plating, and execution.
Did you have a mentor? If so, how did you meet that person?
Barrett: Corina Weibel of Canele and Karen Knowles Zuniga of Electric Avenue Chef. Both are strong women who own their own businesses, love food and people, and give everything to what they do. They taught me a lot about hard work and the love that goes into the food we share with others.
The Business of Your Business
How did you finance your business?
Barrett: We had no money to start Valleybrink Road. At the time, we still had debt from our previous business we were trying to pay off. So, a great deal of what I made was put back into the business, and that continues to be the case.
How did you go about finding clients?
Barrett: Born and raised in Los Angeles, my whole adult life my mom kept telling me about my “network”. I really didn’t know what she meant until I started Valleybrink Road. Word of mouth, friends of friends, and clients telling their friends is how we have grown.
Have you experienced any growing pains?
Barrett: Ha! Everyday. Growing fast is hard. There is a lot to do and all of this costs money.
What obstacles have you face that you were most surprised by?
Barrett: It doesn’t get easier. The bigger you get the more complicated it becomes.
What are the long-term goals for your company?
Barrett: My goal is for Valleybrink Road to grow into more than just the services we offer, becoming a fully developed, inspiring lifestyle brand.
Where do you find inspiration?
Barrett: I love cookbooks. I have a huge collection and am constantly reading them, looking at the beautiful pictures, and dreaming up new recipes.
Do you have any business role models?
Barrett: I am so inspired by the female entrepreneurs in my life. They are my role models. I feel like we are all constantly learning from each other.
What books or magazines are on your nightstand?
Barrett: Bon Appétit, Food and Wine
Which apps do you use the most and why?
Barrett: Instagram – social media for Valleybrink Road, VSCO – editing images for social
Favorite book(s) about business:
Barrett: I haven’t really had time to read anything! My husband just bought me The E Myth Revisited, so I’ll keep you posted on that.
Sources for news:
Are you part of any professional networks?
Barrett: No, not at the moment.
How involved is your husband in your business?
Barrett: My husband, Andre Vippolis, is a photographer. From the beginning, he was helping with anything I needed. Everything from coming to events and cooking with me to shooting all of my gift boxes for the website. As the business has grown over the past three years, he has been doing more and more and more, trying to help me keep up with everything and grow Valleybrink Road in the right way. This January, he came on board as my partner.
Where do you draw the line between work and home lives?
Barrett: Now that we are doing Valleybrink Road together, in a way it has been easier. We do what we have to do during the day and then try to have some time with each other and our son Costa, at night and on the weekends. We both make a conscious effort to have at least Sunday be our day.
Has motherhood changed how you do business?
Barrett: I think it has given me clarity on the best and most efficient way to spend my time. What jobs and opportunities are really worth it. In the beginning, I was saying yes to A LOT of things, some of which were wonderful, and other things that definitely weren’t worth the time and energy. Now, I feel like I make more thoughtful decisions.
How do you balance work and family?
Barrett: It’s not easy! But I keep working on it, trying to find that balance each day. Some days are better than others. As my company grows and becomes more efficient, I am starting to see the glimpse of a more balanced day-to-day routine.
What do you do to stay sane?
Barrett: It took me 17 months, but I finally started working out again. And, it is really changing the way I feel in the best of ways. It was just so hard to get back to doing something for myself for some reason. But now, I am giving myself that time, twice a week, and my energy is up, I feel more focused, and happier. Also, going to Bestia with my husband for date night. Black Truffle Cavatelli, please!!!!
What is the best thing about running your own business? The most difficult?
Barrett: The best part is that it is yours. You’re creating and building something. You’re realizing your own creative vision. The most difficult part is that it is yours. All the good and all the bad. The easy decisions and the hard ones. And, all the stress. That’s all yours too.
What are you most proud of?
Barrett: I’m proud of the type of business we have built and all the love that goes into everything we do.
At what point did you think, “I made it”?
Barrett: I haven’t reached that point yet! But, I’ll keep you posted!
What advice would you give to people who are just starting out in business?
Barrett: If you don’t believe you can do it, no one else will either. Find that confidence and get ready to give it everything you’ve got.
Photography by: Darcy Hemley