Spotlight on Jenee’ Anderson
At Spotlight, we got the opportunity to talk to the owner of FarmBaeNae, Jenee’. We spoke about why she decided to take the plunge and start a business, taking risks and what she’s proud of!
I started selling food in college but it wasn't until 2015 that I took it seriously enough to do it professionally. In between that time, I had given birth to my daughter and worked numerous jobs within the banking industry. It did not take me long to realize that Corporate America was NOT for me … and never would be. Once I began my professional culinary journey, I took pride in getting the freshest and best ingredients from almost ANY local business that I could find. Unfortunately, the stress of trying to find Black-owned produce markets became so overwhelming that I completely stopped selling food altogether until I could be sure of the food I was feeding my community. That gave me the idea to start a local, Black farm and have not stopped talking about it since. Fast forward to today, here we are!
Why did you start your business?
In trying to find local, Black businesses to get fresh produce from, I would be ripping and running around the city for 2+ hours and even after I got all of the things on my list, I still wasn’t satisfied because I wasn’t POSITIVE of where the food came from. But, even more than that, why do I have to rip and run across the entire city to get quality products? If I have to do that, so does the majority of the Black community in Charlotte. I decided to be the change I wish to see, not only in the world but more importantly, my community.
COVID-19 came and took the world by storm. For millions of people, that meant that they couldn’t go to work and were confined to their homes. Some were upset and bored and restless, I was indifferent. I had nothing else to do, so I started my garden, rebranded my old Instagram and said, “What do I have to lose?” When I started FarmBaeNae, I had 212 followers on Instagram that I hadn’t used in 2 years. I currently have 10.4k (with a few celebrities in there) and counting.
Passion and drive
I try, every single day, to educate just one person and show them that there is so much more to food than what they see in the grocery stores. If I can change just one mind a day, I’m on the right track.
I have known that I was put here to make a difference from a very young age. I had no idea that it would be starting a farm to give my community access to fresh food! But, when people text me and tell me that their mother and/or grandmothers are on the way to my house to cut tomatoes off of the vine in my front yard, THAT shows me just how monumental this could be if I was able to do this on a large scale.
Life lessons and advice
I’m going to say that my parents are tied for the spot of “Most Important Quote.” My dad always told me, “Always have a plan, a backup plan and a plan to fall back on when the first two don’t work.” My mom always told me, “Plan your work. Work your plan.” I value both equally and offer this advice to as many people as I can.
You know the phrase “You never know who’s watching”? That. That’s been my biggest lesson. Sometimes, I will compulse over content for days because I feel the pressure of having to be “perfect”, but in reality, none of us are perfect. So, I have made it a point to post things that are relatable. I think that’s the biggest thing. Authenticity builds audiences.
My biggest three tips for anyone starting their career:
Remember that your vision belongs to you. People can steal your glasses, not your eyes.
Set small goals for yourself and celebrate each one. Don’t have time to pay attention to who isn’t clapping for you because you’re so busy clapping for your own damn self.
1+8. 2+7. 3+6. 4.5x2. 3 squared. You can always change the method, never change the goal.
“You shouldn’t throw stones if you live in a glass house.” Always remember that the same people who built you up can break you right back down. Secondly, don’t forget that tough love is needed sometimes and it’s hard to hear the ugly truth about yourself … When your loved ones tell you things that you don’t want to hear, take an extra second to remove your feelings.
Heavy is the head who wears the crown. Sometimes, you will look around and say, “Why are y’all asking me?” and you will want your phone to stop ringing and you won’t want to get out of bed. You will want to disappear sometimes. You will want to give up because sometimes, the weight of it all can get so heavy … But keep going. Looking back, those will be the moments that will make you the proudest.
Hold your head up … your crown is tilting.
Highs and lows
The best part of my job is being able to show my daughter that dreams actually DO come true. The worst part is remembering that for every action, there is a reaction. Knowing that everything lies in the decisions I make is very stressful. There is no definite pattern for success but I would say consistency is key. I don’t always get it right but I keep going. What did Donnie McClurkin say? “We fall down, but we get up. A saint is just a sinner who fell down … but got up. GET BACK UP AGAIN!”
I just want every Black and Brown child reading my story, seeing me on social media and hearing my voice to know that I’m not special. We all have a purpose … I just happened to live in mine. They can do the same. That thing you can’t stop thinking about, the thing you see in your sleep, the thing your family doesn’t support, that vision no one else can see, the thing you’re tired of explaining … hold on to it tight.
Business during COVID-19
I hate to say it again, but consistency. I post multiple things a day to make sure that I’m constantly on their screens. I’m not going away so they better get used to seeing and hearing me trying to teach them something real. Remote working can be tough. I would suggest dedicating a place in your house to be your office. Having a designated space to do your work makes a HUGE difference. Thank me later!
We do things one day at a time here at FarmBaeNae. The S.O.S. band taught me a valuable life lesson a LONG time ago. “Baby, you CAN do it, Take the time, do it right. You can do it, baby!