New Jersey is home to many ambitious and talented women who juggle family, career, and home. A select few of these women are also extremely busy building their own companies to help better manage the balance of work and family. At NJMOM, we want to highlight these extraordinary women who build businesses in New Jersey, and learn the secret to their success.
Founder of Good Folk Supper Club & NJMOMpreneur:
When Beth Herbruck founded Good Folk Supper Club, she combined her Atlanta roots, family traditions, and New York City know-how to create a culinary-centered affair that puts community first. Guests come to GFSC’s tastefully designed dinner events to experience the work of New Jersey’s most talented chefs in unique locations and intimate settings; but it’s the attention to detail and sense of togetherness that encourages guests to return. After working as an event planner, designer, and producer for 15 years, Beth used her professional talents and creative connections to channel her family’s large Sunday dinners that she experienced growing up in Georgia. Today, guests of GFSC can dine on new and exciting dishes and socialize together, all while knowing that ticket proceeds from each meal will be hand-delivered to a registered charity by Beth and her two children.
NJMOM had the honor of speaking with Beth about how her family’s history influenced her decision to create Good Folk Supper Club, how her breast cancer diagnosis has reinforced the “family first” perspective that shines in her personal life, and how that same attitude reflects in the services she provides to her guests.
NJMOM: What do you offer to your clients and how is it different than other professionals in your field?
Beth: Good Folk Supper Club was created in 2015 as a fun way to celebrate good food with good folk for a good cause. We create charitable dining adventures in unique locations in and around New Jersey. Each dinner event highlights a chef’s creative vision and culinary talent, inviting guests to sample new flavors and foods. But we’re not only about the yum; GFSC is an opportunity to meet new friends, grow our community and support local non-profits in need. A portion of the proceeds are donated after each dinner to a local 501©3 charity or organization. It’s a chance to share new ideas alongside new dishes and enjoy the company of others.
NJMOM: What inspired you to get into your line of work?
Beth: People. I’m originally from Atlanta and most of my immediate and extended family still lives in Georgia. Meals together were a mainstay in our house and Sunday dinners with my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins was something I didn’t realize I missed until I started a family of my own. My husband and I met in NYC, lived in Brooklyn, and moved to New Jersey in 2004. We had a son and daughter soon after and I transitioned from a full-time career in the city to taking on a few contract events a year. I realized I was incredibly homesick at one point and was craving a community that felt like family.
The supper club model was a perfect fit for my background in food and events as well as a wonderful way to bring people together.
I also love the challenge of finding new surprising locations and collaborating with talented chefs. As a mom, I have to say how fortunate I feel to be able to do most of my work at home around my kids’ schedules. Family first!
NJMOM: What is your favorite part about your business?
Beth: My favorite part is meeting new people and forging new relationships. I am fortunate that I get to experience this on a number of different levels.
1. COLLABORATION: Planning each one-of-a-kind event means collaborating with chefs and property owners to photographers and floral designers that I’ve never worked with before. The chemistry each time is surprising and unique in every way! I also have a small team of passionate, big-hearted creatives that have worked a number of supper club events with me and make what I do pure joy. I couldn’t do this without them.
2. COMMUNITY: Each dinner event welcomes a different group of guests because our tickets are first-come-first-serve. The magic that happens when strangers break bread together is truly inspiring. I’m reminded of the endless potential for human kindness and it feeds my soul.
3. CAUSE: I believed from the very beginning that giving back was equally as important as the actual dinner event thus we donate a portion of the proceeds to a local charity or organization in need. To be able to share the mission of these local non-profits with our guests is so important. Not only are we learning about the needs in our community but are able to support them in a tangible way. My hope is that we’re creating another way to look at fundraising that is educational and entertaining but authentic and highly personal. It’s a very different model from the large fundraising events with auctions, raffles, and long buffets of food. I’m interested in building something much more intimate.
NJMOM: What is your background in your business expertise?
Beth: I’ve been an event planner, designer, and producer for over 15 years – from outdoor film festivals, unique pop-up shops, large-scale conferences, lavish fundraising galas, as well as artistic weddings from 25 to 250. My degree in graphic design helps me keep an eye on every design detail and my years of working in the food industry lends a lot to my understanding of front and back-of-house workings.
NJMOM: What are you most proud of in your career?
Beth: I’m most proud of the fact that I’ve created a business that I love that not only pushes and inspires me but that connects people to the growing needs of our community. I love sharing with my family what I’ve learning about each charity and organization that we support through GFSC and taking them to some of the locations to see first hand what they’re all about. I’ve brought my son and daughter with me to deliver a few of the donation checks in person and they got to see the personal impact that these small gifts can make. I’ve also loved building trust with some of the chefs, servers, and talented photographers I’ve gotten to work with – proving to them that my vision for this small business is serious but that we can all have a blast at the same time. Hard work can also be crazy fun!
NJMOM: What is something few people know about you?
Beth: I’m seriously obsessed with organizing things by color, shape, and pattern. From our kitchen pantry to the books on my shelves, I am forever grouping things so they make the most sense, visually. It’s kind of ridiculous. I’d love to blame this on my college design professors – but I think they’d be proud.
NJMOM: What can we expect from you for the rest of 2017?
Beth: 2017 has been a very challenging year. I was diagnosed with breast cancer in December and have been in treatment since January. I’m more than halfway through at this point but have had to put Good Folk Supper Club on hold until the fall. Slowing down and learning my limits has been difficult but I’m accepting that this is a new important part of my life. I only have so much energy right now and I want to save plenty for time with my children and husband.
Although it’s a journey no one wants to go on, I’ve learned lessons and mustered more strength than I ever knew I had.
I’m now razor sharp about what matters most in my life and am blessed beyond words with family and friends that care deeply. I’m looking forward to hosting new supper club events and paying forward all this love and support.
NJMOM: What is a charity or cause you are most passionate about?
Beth: I’m pretty serious about what we eat, not only in our home but as a nation as well. Paying attention to where and how food is grown is not just a matter of health and wellness but dire for our environment and economy. It’s all so closely linked and yet we ignore so much of the damaging effects in the name of convenience. Being diagnosed with breast cancer helped remind me in a major way that our personal health and the health of our planet are very one and the same. All of that is to say that I support a number of organizations and non-profits that address these concerns from America’s Grow-a-Row to Mary’s Place by the Sea. The power of food is tremendous in so many ways.
Related Article: NJMOMpreneur: Michele Gannon, Mary’s Place by the Sea
NJMOM: Who is your role model?
Beth: I don’t have one particular role model but look to a number of men and women who take on life’s challenges with hope and determination. Those that don’t let fear and anger take over.
NJMOM: What is the best piece of advice a role model ever gave to you?
Beth: “Do unto others.” My parents have always been active volunteers in their community and church and my sisters and I were instilled with the importance of helping others and giving back our entire lives. I knew that it had to be a large part of my life, my family’s life, and whatever I created with my business.
NJMOM: Do you have a favorite quote you live by?
Beth: “We can do hard things” is a quote by Glennon Doyle that I recently read when I was going through chemo. Not only does it remind me that I have a deeper strength that I can tap into, but the “We” part of that quote is equally as important; it’s a reminder of the power of community and strength in numbers. I want to continue to harness that to make lasting positive change in this world, even if one small step at a time.
NJMOM: What are your favorite things to do in New Jersey with your family?
Beth: New Jersey continues to surprise me! We’ve lived here for over 10 years and I’m thrilled to keep discovering new places that I love. Hands down, living by the shore is an incredible place to raise a family. My kids are now 8 and 10 years old and summer means surfing, farmers markets, long bike rides on Sandy Hook, and outdoor music concerts at PNC Bank Arts Center. We live most of our lives between Atlantic Highlands and Asbury Park and couldn’t be happier. But autumn is when I fall in love with New Jersey all over again, mainly for the seasonal food and cooler weather. We go camping upstate and love that we can sleep under the stars.
NJMOM: What is the best part about being a mom for you?
Beth: My favorite part is the wonder – watching them experience new things in life and sharing in their excitement and curiosity. I also hope that I can pass on the importance of helping others and supporting those in need, not only through what we do with Good Folk Supper Club but in everyday living, as well.
NJMOM: What are your favorite businesses in New Jersey?
Beth: I have a soft spot for all of the chefs that have been a part of Good Folk Supper Club and love supporting where they work – Talula’s and Cardinal Provisions in Asbury Park, Nettuno Truck, XINA, The Frog and The Peach, and B2 Bistro to name a few. My kiddos’ favorites are Surf Taco in Red Bank and Cookman Creamery in Asbury. We all love Seed to Sprout in Fair Haven and I’m thrilled to be working with their talented owners.
NJMOM: Where do you reside and vacation in New Jersey?
Beth: We live in Atlantic Highlands and I pinch myself daily. We couldn’t have picked a more caring community. I was a member of the FilmOneFest committee for five years and fell in love with our town’s annual Chilifest; what started as a front porch party has since grown into a fabulous family event with great music, top-notch Carton beer and Shipwreck Rum all night long. We also love hopping on Seastreak at the bottom of our hill because it’s the most beautiful way to get to and from the city. My son would probably say that Liberty Science Center is his favorite place to visit in New Jersey and my daughter would pick any place with ice cream!
NJMOM: What advice might you have for a fellow NJMOMpreneur who is just starting out?
Starting a business is hard work and can quickly become all-consuming. Make sure you take your health seriously and make real time for family and friends. These things can’t be replaced!
NJMOM: Anything else you’d like to tell moms in New Jersey?
We can do hard things! Keep up the good work, mamas.