Catherine Stiles: How to Juggle Marriage, Motherhood and Your Own Biz

September 27 - Sarah Ashlock

FIRST THOUGHT: Food, Drinks and Ladies

Want to start a rumble? Try telling a Kansas City gal that Carolina barbecue is better, or a Texan that smoked brisket needs some sauce. Go on, try it. For many of us, our preferences aren’t just about our taste buds, but about our culture. I specifically remember my dad standing outside with an umbrella in the rain, hovering over his grill, turning and basting. When a meal takes time, some kind of supernatural love is injected into it. Do you have a food memory that gives you that warm hug kind of feeling? If not, think about creating one to share with a friend or neighbor. It might just be something their stomachs and their hearts remember for a long, long time.

WOMEN IN NUMBERS: More than 60 Percent

Everyone knows someone who was or is working in the restaurant biz. Women are no strangers to the odd hours and major hustling a restaurant gig requires: More than 60 percent of American women have worked in the service industry. Though that’s a sizable number, there has always been a divide of the sexes in this industry, even amongst customers. A “ladies’ menu” existed in 1980, or menus that didn’t include prices, because it was assumed the man at the table would pay. Ick!

WOMAN TO WATCH: Catherine Stiles, Founder at Barbecue Wife

Today’s Woman to Watch, Catherine Stiles, always had a plate of barbeque close by. Her success story started when her husband opened a BBQ restaurant about seven years ago. With the smoke wafting from the pit and the sauce glistening on the beef ribs, Catherine became thirsty. She figured other restaurant patrons were thirsty, too, so she took what she had—BBQ sauce—and spontaneously crafted a smoky and spicy bloody mary mix. Thus, began Catherine’s journey to founding Barbecue Wife.

Finding your “me” time in a house with two daughters and another entrepreneur sounds like a fantasy but Catherine’s made it a concrete aspect of her life. Five o’clock is when she shuts down (virtual) shop, putting the phone down and ignoring the social media notifications. For Catherine, the evenings aren’t for her business, but for family, friends and a stiff drink with a side of finger lickin’ barbecue.

What guided Catherine to shape such a well-loved brand was her awareness: She noticed there were a ton of women in the background of the barbecue biz, from running the operations to the Facebook pages, but not many at the forefront. These women didn’t have the esteemed title of pit-master; they were the ones who made sure the pitmaster had enough dang wood to begin with. Sound familiar?

Catherine gives a little well-deserved praise for these barbecue wives, daughters and friends by telling their stories on her website. These “tales” are fascinating, as they really identify the secret ingredient of tasty, successful BBQ establishments and, of course, the women running them.

Handcrafted in small batches, Catherine’s bloody mary mix is simple. There are plenty of fresh ingredients, no gluten or high fructose corn syrup, and a dash of smoked sea salt and black pepper. Catherine expanded on her well received beverage by also launching a margarita mix using smoked local honey. Barbecue Wife’s recipe is distinct and memorable because it calls for serrano pepper-infused premium tequila.

Now, Catherine has catapulted her brand into 200 stores, partly due to her passion for a mighty fine cocktail, but also due to her marketing experience at a healthy food startup she helped create. Catherine has smartly used her plethora of skills and woman-led motivation to create a new space for women in the food industry.

Follow Catherine on Twitter at @catherinestiles.

If you are able to turn your hobby into a passion, you’re one of the lucky ones. It’s a blessing to be able to wake up every day and love what you do. Check out our five tips on how to turn your hobby into a career by clicking here or, if you’re listening via podcast, head over to!


If you aren’t headed to your local smoked meats establishment for lunch right now, then I clearly didn’t do my job right. Here’s a quote from the Barbecue Wife herself to help your surely grumbling tummy:

"Every day, something will be thrown off. You just have to laugh. You have to have a sense of humor to just keep moving."

Meet Catherine at On The Dot’s See It To Be It Success Summit, where she’ll be speaking on a panel called “The Unexpected Entrepreneur”, alongside Brooklyn Decker of Finery and Sheena Paul of World Class. These ladies will talk about how they accidentally fell into entrepreneurship and show anyone can be an entrepreneur with the right tools. For tickets to the event, click here!

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