In 1985, a young woman named Pamela Barefoot had a dream — to move to Virginia’s isolated Eastern Shore and survive with her creativity. The rural coastal peninsula, bounded by the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, offered a blank canvas for entrepreneurial opportunity, inspiring Pam to start her own business. Driving around the back roads in 1985, she envisioned items such as spice blends for clam and crab, two seafood species prevalent in the Chesapeake.
Setting up shop on the table in her farmhouse kitchen, she mixed seasonings and dreamed of other specialties that would embrace the flavors of the region. The “blank canvas” began filling in with all sorts of possibilities and new dreams, including the creation of local jobs, raising awareness of the region’s natural resources, and getting her new homeland on the map. Not long after she began, she rented space above a waterfront restaurant and immediately experienced a devastating fire. She moved her fledgling business back home. Then Hurricane Gloria hit, causing significant damage.
Undaunted by the setbacks, Pam, with her usual dogged determination, became more intent on realizing her vision. In 1986, she entered a contest in a national women’s magazine and wrote: “I envision someday having a multi-faceted operation … including mail order, wholesale regional foods, corporate gifts and a retail shop.” Her entry netted an award of $ 7,500 and major national publicity.
Business steadily increased, and like the Blue Crab of its logo, the company experienced several moltings. Pam’s hard work paid off: In 1999, she was named Virginia’s Small Business Person of the Year, and in 2003 the U.S. Small Business Administration tapped her as one of the nation’s Outstanding Women Entrepreneurs.
Today, her Bay Beyond Inc., a Virginia certified Small, Women & Minority Owned business enterprise, markets the Blue Crab Bay Co.® brand, which features award-winners such as Sting Ray® Bloody Mary Mixer with Clam Juice; coastal themed snacks such as Barnacles®; seasonings; seafood dip kits; and fishnet-wrapped gift packs. Product expansions include Blue Crab Stoneware by Dovis Designs©, which features kitchenware, dinnerware, and serveware with a striking hand-painted blue crab motif as well as Bay Beyond® gourmet shelf-stable imported crabmeat. Hard work and innovation at Blue Crab Bay Co. continue to be recognized. In 2011, the company received the prestigious Chairman’s Award at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business Tayloe Murphy Resilience Awards.
The dream that started on a back road has become a reality — jobs have been created, products are shipped internationally, and the Eastern Shore is finally on the map.