We’ve known Bailey McCarthy for years and years from early blogging days, and our love for design and having a good ‘ole time made us destined to be friends with Bailey forever. Fast forward to 2019, our team had the pleasure of staying at Bailey and Pete McCarthy’s Bellville, Texas guest home — properly named ‘Good Thyme Farm’ — while we were treasure hunting in neighboring town, Round Top. There are so many incredible things to say about the McCarthy’s, we’re not quite sure where to start. And to say Good Thyme Farm and their Bellville property was a ‘cool place to stay’ is almost insulting, because it was quite literally the coolest / greatest / most beautiful / most extra / most wonderful place EVER — and we’re not being dramatic about it. The property was something out of a movie set on acres and acres of rolling greens, covered with Bluebonnets, ponds, vegetable gardens, and all the farm animals. The McCarthy’s showed us some true Southern hospitality and we’re forever changed.
Let us tell you about Bailey, though, because she’s the real reason we’re all here. She is the founder of Biscuit Home, a luxury bedding company with beautiful designer prints, all made in the USA — and her story is fascinating. Her journey from blogging to interior design to where she is today is an inspiration, and she’s learned a thing or two along the way that she shared in our interview below. Take a few minutes and dive into Bailey’s entrepreneurial journey — and of course, take a peek inside Bailey and Pete’s beautiful Texas countryside home.
Photo by Roger Davies
Tell us about your journey as an entrepreneur. Start from the beginning days of Peppermint Bliss to design to Biscuit Home.
Pete and I got engaged and moved to Chicago in 2009. I was working part-time for an interior designer, exploring our new city, and renovating the house we bought. I started writing a blog as a sort of newsletter for our friends in Texas that I WILL NOT BE ASHAMED of titling, Peppermint Bliss.
Looking back, timing was everything and I think had a lot to do with Domino magazine, which had launched right when I started college in 2004. For a lot of people in my age range, Domino forged a chic path to follow in the awkward hinterlands between Seventeen Magazine and Vanity Fair, fortuitously establishing interiors as the common language or expression within a younger creative community — a lot of whom began reading and writing blogs to fill the void left by Domino when it closed in 2009. Thank you for attending my class on the origins of design blogging as influenced by Domino Magazine.
ANYWAY! I discovered this larger blogging community and started to work on building Peppermint Bliss within that space. Online magazine’s like Lonny, Rue, and Matchbook were all launching, everyone was looking for interior design content, and there I was! Blogging about design led to me getting my own clients — and because people were finding me through my blog, it was mostly e-design, which was a lot of sourcing non-trade items for clients. I became an online home-shopping expert, in a market that was also just starting to explode, which inspired me to start Biscuit.
With Biscuit, I hoped to bring some of the heritage linens and traditions of southern homemaking to a wider market. For the first few years running Biscuit, I was still doing client design work — and blogging and having babies and really just doing all the things. In the beginning, that pace was energizing and all of those various sides of the business fueled each other, but you can also become addicted to that creative chaos and busy-ness, and I found myself burning out and craving focus and room to live more life outside of work. I chose Biscuit, and began living a more balanced and intentional life. It’s been a journey and I am so pleased to have arrived at this current moment.
One of our favorite things about Biscuit Home is that the entire line is made, printed and sewn in the USA. Why was this so important to you?
It was important to me initially because my grandfather built his manufacturing business in the US, and growing up, I saw the impact creating those jobs can have for a community. There are a lot of good feels – and good PR – that come with Made in the USA™ but it’s not just a values statement.
As a practical consideration, there are risks that come with managing overseas production, and for us, pursuing a cheaper alternative wasn’t worth the trade in quality control. I’m not saying products made elsewhere inherently lack quality, if we were producing something that should be made elsewhere, like an Otomi blanket or another traditional textile — we would! We are lucky that there is a strong history of manufacturing the linens we create in the US, which allows us to be physically present to oversee all stages of production.
Our manufacturing partners represent different sides of the Made in the USA story. Literally from the Carolina’s to California, we work with one company that has been passed down through the same family for generations, and at one point supported an entire town, and another started by a man who immigrated from Armenia and hopes to pass his business to his daughters. It has added meaning to our work seeing the impact they have had on their communities, and pushes us to consider Biscuit’s place in ours.
What were some of the biggest challenges you faced when you first got started?
Earnestness and ego. I was always aware of how lucky I was to be building my business in what felt like an urgently special time, and I put enormous pressure on myself to prove my place in that world. I chased success that wasn’t meant for me, and focused too much on external voices at the expense of cultivating my own. There is a phase in starting your business when you have endless energy and everything seems possible and you need that to drive you, but you also need to focus and operate with intention. I struggled with that.
What about now? What are some of the toughest things you deal with on a daily basis?
Pete and I are in the process of combining our two businesses — (he owns Goodnight Hospitality with his partners) — into a larger development company that will manage our existing projects and work together on new things going forward. So you know in Power Rangers when they would do their mighty morphin thing and combine their respective weapons into one giant Megazord ranger? Totally, right!? That’s what we are doing now. Integrating our teams, identifying each of our individual powers and figuring out how best to combine them and work together.
I went through a similar process a few years ago when I stopped taking on design clients to focus on Biscuit — doing a serious personal inventory of your goals, gifts and limitations. It can be a gnarly process, and this time there are six of us doing it together. I am an only child, and sometimes I find it HARD TO REGULATE THE VOLUME OF MY VOICE, ya know? Both literally and figuratively. So I am learning with how to be a leader amongst leaders, and lend my shine without stealing anyone else’s light.
You’ve built quite the name for yourself over the years. In your opinion, what’s the key to success?
Authenticity. In both your goal, and your pursuit of that goal. Success doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone, and you have to start by defining what success actually is to you. Is success money? Is it having a creative outlet? Is it serving a need and making a difference? A lot of us want all of those things, but deep down there is one goal that truly drives you. Find that within yourself, and pursue it with conviction. Make real connections, trust in the process, have faith in your abilities, listen to your gut- be authentic to yourself and your goal and success will follow in more ways than you initially could have imagined.
You’re also a mama of two! How do you balance it all?
Honestly, I have a lot of help. I have an incredible husband who is a true partner and we are fortunate that our circumstances have allowed us to balance our roles from the beginning. I also have a wonderful wife, our nanny Miss Lani who keeps our lives organized and on schedule and shepherds our kids with tenderness and patience that, frankly, sometimes I struggle to match. And we have amazing friends who are family, with and without children of their own, who we get to do this beautiful life with and make it fun! We are lucky, too, that we are able to integrate our home/work/social lives. Whenever possible, we like to include our kids in our work and in our play — as well as joining in theirs — which helps keep our family in alignment with each other. That said, it’s a challenge and we are always re-evaluating what our balance looks like and how to get there.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
You’re a human being, not a human doing. – My Dad, he was trying to tell me to chill the eff out with as much tenderness as possible.
What advice would you give to some who wants to start their own biz?
It’s more of a question: Are you sure? Is this absolutely necessary? Are you prepared have to fully commit your whole self (often at the expense of other things you care about) to bringing your business to life? Is your business necessary, or does it already exist and perhaps could you be better served supporting a vision you share with someone else? A lot of people want to be their own boss, but it can be overrated.
You know what you mostly do when you are your own boss? Build and maintain a team. So as a boss who knows it’s all about the team — I rep hard for the team players.
That said — if the answer is YES and YES the advice part would be stay focused on creating over competing, believe in yourself so hard, and find other people who believe in you too- then hire them and treat them well.
What are five things you can’t live without right now?
What’s next for Bailey McCarthy?
I am so proud of what Biscuit has become. The brand-baby of my dreams is coming into its own and I am looking forward to the collections we have coming out this year. Those who have followed along also know I worked with Pete and his partners on Goodnight Charlie’s which opened in 2017. This summer and fall ,we are opening three more: Rosie Cannonball, Montrose Cheese & Wine, and March.
A lot of people were straight flummoxed when I stopped taking on interior design clients to focus on Biscuit, actually even before that when I walked away from my blog. I have been working for years on those concepts, and it feels like I am about to reintroduce myself again. In life, though, I have found that some things are doors and others are blocks. There are doors we pass through that open up the path in a new direction. For me, blogging opened the door to interior design, and then Biscuit. The blocks create a foundation to build upon. Now, looking back, I see how the experience of blogging about our life starting back in Chicago: the travel, restaurants, wedding planning, and the way blogging helped me absorb and process and share those experiences — not to mention the connections I made with truly fine people like yourself, that all laid the foundation for where I am now.
So it’s not so much what is next, it’s the continuation of what I have been doing since I first put finger to key in the early days of Peppermint Bliss. Working through life, creating a life through my work. You know? Life’s work and shit. I love moments like this where you can reflect and it all makes sense – so thanks for having me here and for being a supportive pal and inspiration these many years.
Photo by Trevor Tondro
Photo by Roger Davies
Photo by Buff Strickland
Photo by Buff Strickland
Photo by Bailey McCarthy