Chatting with Barrett Prendergast
Barrett Prendergast, Founder of Valleybrink Road
Fresh cut flowers, delicious, whole foods, and parties, are just a few of Barrett Prendergast’s favorite things. At a career crossroad, it was these things that kept dancing through her head. What could she do that combines all her passions in a professional sense? The manifestation was Valleybrink Road: a floral design and luxury gift box company that is really, so much more. Barrett is the go-to girl for all things food and entertainment. Her site is chalked full of beautiful personal recipes, beautiful and purchasable floral designs and gift boxes, and a look at all her past parties.
I sat down with Barrett to find out how she balances her healthy and active lifestyle as a #girlboss (and #momboss), and get the scoop on her effortless style and how the key is to keep it simple, in all aspects of life.
The Creation of Valleybrink Road
Melissa: At what point did you decide that you wanted to turn your passion and hobby of cooking into a full-time career?
Barrett: When I turned 30. I had just closed down the handbag line I had with my husband and was really at a crossroads. I couldn’t imagine going to work for someone again and had sort of lost my love for the fashion world. Everything I was doing in my free time was about food and entertaining. I was always cooking, making up recipes, having people over for dinner, planting gardens, going to the farmers market. These were all the things I really loved. So, I decided to see if I could actually turn what I truly loved into some kind of profession. I went to work in a restaurant and less than a year later, Valleybrink Road was born.
How To Balance Work and Life
Melissa: How do you manage to find the time to create such healthy and balanced meals with such a busy work schedule?
Barrett: It is part prep and part cooking meals that are simple. I do a lot of prep on Sundays, like making batches of grains, washing vegetables, making almond milk, roasting chicken, etc, so that certain things are ready to go in the fridge when it comes to mealtime. I also don’t like fussy recipes. I want to be finished in 20-30 minutes max, so that is really how I cook. I search for the best ingredients and really good produce, so the dishes don’t need much in the end.
M: You spend a lot of time in the kitchen and working with your hands. How does this impact your personal style? Do you have work style vs. personal style?
B: Yes. In the mornings and when I am doing a lot of physical labor like cooking or making arrangements and gift boxes, I usually wear jeans, one of my many The Great T-Shirts (they are heaven), and some Converse. My personal style is longer, flowy colorful dresses and sandals.
Colorful Dresses, Jewelry, and Handbags
M: From your arrangements to your recipes, everything you create is so full of color. Does this extend to your style?
B: I never really thought about it but it totally does! I wear lots of bright dresses, color, and pattern. Things that are feminine but still functional. I guess I like “happy” clothes.
M: What is your all-time favorite accessory/ piece of jewelry?
B: My Irene Neuwirth wedding ring. It is a rose cut diamond and rose gold band. It is my everything.
M: If we were to open your closet, what type of accessory would we find most of?
B: Probably handbags. We used to have a handbag line, so there are lots of leftover samples, production, etc. And then, just lots of work totes. Love a good bag.
Entertaining at Home
M: You are the queen of setting the scene and creating a magical environment for events and gatherings. Do you enjoy entertaining in your own home or is it strictly business?
B: While we definitely do less of it than we used to, I still love entertaining at home. Even something as simple as having people over for a big cheeseboard and some great wine makes me happy.
M: What are some dining/home accessories that make entertaining easier or help set the mood?
B: I think a great wood board, a pretty vase, a statement napkin….just little things like this can make a big difference for a tablescape. Oh, and most importantly fresh flowers. Always have some fresh flowers around to brighten up the space.
M: What is a kitchen/cooking accessory you just couldn’t live without?
B: I probably use my Vitamix more than anything else. Smoothies, Almond milk, soup purees…the list goes on and on.
M: I am about to move into the house we have been building for 4 years. Do you have any tips on how to throw the perfect housewarming?
B: Don’t try to do too much! Invite your close friends and keep it intimate. Cheese, charcuterie, wine, and lots of laughs.