Gail Fifer's day routinely starts at 5 a.m.
With coffee to fuel her early morning passion, flour, eggs, yeast, and sugar make their way into mixing bowls.
From there, she works her magic to create all the comfort foods you've come to love from The Briar Patch Bakery.
Kolache, cinnamon rolls, scones, French bread...the list goes on and on.
If you're a regular customer of Jake's Convenience, then you already know the Coffee Cave carries Gail's tempting homemade goodies.
They are absolutely delicious!
Before the Briar Patch Bakery Came To Be
Gail's talent for tempting us with her homemade treats and pairing it with our morning coffee isn't new, but her baking business is.
The business isn't quite two years old, as of this writing!
So how did Gail ultimately take a baking hobby and turn it into a business she's passionate about?
As with all entrepreneurial journeys, it started with a need.
Married and working a farm full-time, Gail also drove a school bus for 14 years, while her husband worked in a factory.
The couple had four kids in seven years. "We were kid poor," she joked. That's when she started making yeast bread for her family.
Gail always shared her baked goods with family and friends, but baking bread was one way to cut the cost of buying groceries. Eventually, however, she and her husband divorced.
She went on to work for Virginia Blood Services for nearly 13 years. Still baking as a hobby, there was no inkling of a bakery business in her future. But it was as Virginia Blood Services Gail met her current husband, and they married in 2010.
But by 2016, the winds of change were in the air. Gail was ready to make an employment change. With her husband's support, she began testing the waters.
Baking for Others Becomes A Full-Time Passion
Lynn Breeden of LTD 7 had a yearly event called Market Days. That's when Gail decided
to apply for a vendor spot.
At that time, she sold yeast bread, French bread, and cinnamon rolls.
She credits that event with launching her business. "It took off from there," Gail said.
Word spread and The Briar Patch Bakery got more requests for Gail's expanding list of sweet breads, and her jams, jellies, and apple butter.
Now Gail has three very dear employees. Her mother, an aunt, and her mother-in-law help with the baking.
"They're likd 12-year-old kids," Gail said, "Giggling and laughing." But between the giggles, these ladies get some serious baking done!
Even Gail's husband pitches in, making rolls and loaf bread. He knows when to move them from the proofer into the oven, how to label the packages, and so on.
It's a real family affair that is the heart of small business.
The Briar Patch Bakery's Community Involvement
Somewhere between sun up and sundown, Gail finds time to give back to the community. On the day I spoke with her, she was preparing baked goods to give to a local fundraiser for a man with Lou Gehrig's Disease.
And vacations? She and her husband take a yearly mission trip to help others in the US who have experienced a disaster.
Gail might have some of the best baked goods in Staunton, VA, but we know for sure, she and her husband have some of the biggest hearts, too.
We're proud to carry her sweet treats!