Hello friendly faces! It’s that time of the week! We’re back with a new Chicago North Shore Moms spotlight brought to you in part by Mary Gifford of Gifford Law.
Following your passion is something that Alison Beitzel (Babs) has figured out. Two years ago she retired from a corporate accounting life, and launched “feet first” into a deliciously successful small business, Babs Boards. The Glenview mother of two grownish kids has been busy creating, feeding and teaching the art of the charcuterie board, grazing tables and even grilling! Get to know Babs, her favorite local places to dine, great advice to budding entrepreneurs and current and future partnerships. Welcome, Babs!
Hi Babs! Please introduce yourself. Where are you from originally? What city do you live in now? What brought you here?
Hi, I’m Babs! My name is actually Alison Beitzel (not Barbara). The nickname Babs is from my 20’s and comes from my maiden name Barr, which became Barbie, which became Babs. I’m originally from Bay Village, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland. I went to Indiana University and majored in accounting. My first job after college was at KPMG in Chicago, where I met my husband (who also went to IU). After living in Chicago for several years, we moved to Glenview to raise our family.
And your kids?
I have a son who is a freshman at the University of Wisconsin. I have a daughter who is a senior at Glenbrook South. We love spending time with them whenever we can. We also have a one year old yellow lab named Reggie.
What are one or two fun facts to know about you?
In my free time, I love to travel with my family and love to play golf with my husband. I’m an avid swimmer and enjoy swimming laps, especially outside in the summer.
What are your favorite North Shore places, spaces and eats to frequent?
My favorite North Shore place is the Chicago Botanic Garden. My BFF and I enjoy walking all times of the year at this beautiful place. We are so lucky to have this in our backyard. And you can grab a fresh, locally produced lunch there and they have wine!
My favorite North Shore place to eat is Pomeroy in Winnetka. After living in the city for several years, it’s really hard for me to find a restaurant I like as much as the city. Pomeroy is that place- great food and great atmosphere. I’m really looking forward to the new Ballyhoo restaurant opening in Glenview soon.
Another favorite place of mine is Towne & Oak in Winnetka. Such a great lunch spot with girlfriends and the best chicken on the North Shore.
What gets you through a tough day?
Wine and cheese of course!
Working out is a requirement for me every day – whether it’s swimming, walking my dog, tennis, paddle, yoga or playing golf, I just need to move and be outside. That helps my mental state so much and keeps me smiling!
It’s time to get down to business. Please introduce your food baby, Babs Boards.
Babs Boards is 2 years old! I cannot believe it – that went so fast! I started Babs Boards by making charcuterie boards and quickly grew into breakfast, veggie and dessert boards, grazing tables and charcuterie classes. I now offer grilling classes too!
What was the impetus behind starting Babs Boards?
I retired from corporate accounting life and wanted something fun to do. I’ve always been a big entertainer, hosting numerous dinner parties for family and friends. I started Babs Boards on a whim, based on my a suggestion from a friend. What started as a hobby, has grown into a fun business!
Love it, a good friend is everything! What is the hardest part about starting and running a small business in your opinion?
Learning when to say no. I started off by saying yes to everything and then learned what I liked to do the most. You cannot do it all, so it’s ok to say no.
Great advice, something moms in general have a hard time implementing. Speaking of advice, what do you wish you knew then that you know now?
Don’t get in the way of your own success. I feel like a lot of entrepreneurs try to come up with every possible scenario first before launching. Sometimes you just have to jump in feet first and see how it goes. “What do you have to lose?” is what I kept repeating to myself and it really did work.
Women really want other women to succeed. I have been blown away by the amount of women who have reached out in countless ways to help me in my success. Some of these women are my best friends and some are women I have never even met. It is truly a special network of women helping women.
Yes, this community of women is truly amazing! What workshops do you have coming up?
I have several private charcuterie classes coming up and stay tuned for more open to the public at local shops. “Girls who Grill” was a big success and we will continue this next Spring. Also, I’m developing a couple new classes for the winter. One of them is Lake Forest Food & Wine Charcuterie Class on December 5th. Please join us!
Tell us about your charcuterie classes – how do we get a moms night out for this organized?
They are sooo much fun!! Simply email me at [email protected] for more information about how to get your next MNO organized.
What’s on the horizon for Babs Boards?
I recently partnered with Forza Meats to train them to make my charcuterie boards. So now when you purchase a Babs charcuterie Board through me, you pick them up at Forza Meats in Glenview. I’m hoping to partner with a few other shops around the Chicagoland area to do the same thing in other areas too. I’m also developing a few new classes to teach – so stay tuned!!
Is there anything else you’d like us to know about yourself or your business?
My passion is really teaching classes. I love interacting with all of these wonderful people I have met throughout the last 2 years and I hope I can continue to do this for many years to come!
About our Meet of Mom Sponsor
A very heartfelt thank you to CNSMoms’ Meet a Mom sponsor, Lake Forest mom of three and owner of Gifford Law, a solo Estate Planning Firm (wills and trusts). Mary, we appreciate your support of local moms in our North Shore communities! Learn more about Mary by visiting her Meet a Mom spotlight here! Contact Mary directly here: [email protected].