It all started with a gift of homemade pimento cheese in a disposable container from a stranger in Waycross, GA. That proper welcome to a new homeowner in her neighborhood is why I’m in the pimento cheese business today.
I grew up on a farm in Wrightsville, GA with an idyllic childhood from parents who fostered independence and a can-do spirit. I experienced all the southern cooking one could imagine, but Mama didn’t make pimento cheese. That stranger’s gift in 1995 along with her southern hospitality impressed me greatly. She became a dear friend, showering me with love…AND and her pimento cheese recipe! I doctored it up a bit to call it my own, gifting hundreds of pounds to friends and family for many years.
Fast forward to 2007, the year I married, moved to Sandersville, GA and became a bonus mother to a precious adolescent girl. After eight IVFs and a variety of nontraditional fertility treatments, I became a mother of twin girls at age 45. Why the details you ask? Because, this is my story. This was a pivotal point that changed my trajectory. Age didn’t work in my favor, but prayers and faith prevailed, teaching me a little about tenacity. Little did I know this would come in handy five years later.
In 2015, at age 50, after a happenstance conversation about how to roast red peppers, I got a bee in my bonnet to sell the product that I had given away for 20 years. I created a name, a beautiful vintage-inspired label and an unexpected 2015 Flavor of Georgia award winner. It started as a hobby to share with my young girls, but quickly and unintentionally became a business. The Proper Pepper brand is now sold online and in stores throughout Georgia and southern North Carolina. The business model of wholesale and ecommerce is working for Proper Pepper. We ship, use distributors, and I continue to personally deliver within a certain mile radius.
So here I am, a former stay-at-home mom turned accidental founder and owner of a food company. My romance with southern culture and specialty food is now my job. I invite you to join us, the Ken Bibb family (pimento cheese aficionados) of Sandersville, GA, and #followthecrown @properpepper on social media. We’ll share traditional and trendy ways to serve our pimento cheese along with how we attempt to grow peonies in middle Georgia. Our most serious of conversations generally happen during suppers on the side porch, so I may toss a question occasionally to get your opinion. We do believe it takes a village to manage a family and run a business.