Entrepreneurship Week Spotlight: Sister Duo Serves Up Sweet Treats and Specialty Coffees In Wentworth

Sisters Abbey & Kristyn Carter with their third team member at Aspen Bakery & Coffee Bar.

While growing up in the Reidsville area of Rockingham County, NC, sisters Abbey and Kristyn Carter spent lots of time in the kitchen, helping their mother with baking and cake decorating.  Abbey especially fell in love with baking and honed her baking craft.  While she was a high school student in the Early College program at Rockingham Community College, she had the opportunity to open her own bakery.  Aspen Bakery & Coffee Bar opened in June of 2017 in Wentworth and it has been full steam ahead ever since.

Abbey says her parents supported her entrepreneurial spirit and helped her get started with Aspen Bakery & Coffee Bar after the bakery where was working closed up shop.  “It just kind of fell in my lap when the previous owners decided to close.  They asked if we wanted to buy it and the rest is history,” said Abbey.

While Abbey was getting Aspen off the ground, her sister Kristyn was away at college honing her barista craft.  She eventually joined Abbey and brough her knowledge and skills for running a coffee bar to Wentworth.

Aspen Bakery & Coffee Bar is an old fashioned, home-style bakery and full service coffee shop offering a variety of pastries, southern sweets, specialty coffees and handcrafted coffee drinks, teas, and other desserts.  Abbey says their bakery is more of a country, home-style bakery offering classics such as Coca-Cola cake, red velvet cake, various pound cakes, wine cake and Reese’s peanut butter cheesecake.  They also make wedding cakes and do special order items.

The coffee bar serves regular coffee as well as specialty coffee drinks such as lattes, cappuccinos, frappes, smoothies and an assortment of hot teas.

“The best thing about opening our own business is the customers,” said Abbey.  “Everyone in the area has been so supportive and loyal and we appreciate that so much.  We love that we get to meet so many people and be a part of this community.”

Visit Aspen Bakery & Coffee Bar at 8460-C NC HWY 87 in the Wentworth area (next to Elizabeth’s Pizza).  Hours are Monday-Friday 6:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Entrepreneurship Week Spotlight: A fun, new BBQ restaurant in Eden

One of Eden’s newest small businesses is That Little Pork Shop—a barbecue restaurant with a twist.  It officially opened its doors in December 2018 and owner Donna Hopkins takes pride in the fact that it’s “not your normal barbecue restaurant.”

Located at 629 Monroe Street in Eden’s Olde Leaksville district, That Little Pork Shop features pulled pork in traditional barbecue dishes as well as used in unique dishes. The menu includes favorites such as pulled pork sandwiches, pork quesadillas, pork salads, pork tacos, ribs, pork chop sandwiches, BBQ hush puppy balls, bacon and more. 

They also feature 11 different barbecue sauces to suit all different tastes.  The menu includes chicken, salads, shrimp, burgers, flatbreads, and kids’ meals.    There is also a full beer and wine menu available.

That Little Pork Shop is open Mondays from 4-9 p.m.; Tuesday-Friday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturdays from 4-9 p.m.

Entrepreneurship Week Spotlight: New Antique Mall & Bakery in Madison

Whitney Stewart grew up working in her father’s companies so owning her own business just comes naturally.  She launched A Sweet Southern Mess Antique Mall in early February 2019 in downtown Madison, NC and continues her family’s tradition of entrepreneurship.  Her antique mall offers vendor spaces as well as a walk-in bakery on site.

“I wanted to keep an antique mall open locally and offer people a place to sell things that they make, build or design,” said Whitney.  “I want this to be a place where people come to enjoy a great shopping day out.”

She has 35 booths available for vendors.  In addition, she also operates a full bakery and general store in-house.  There is also a salvage barn area that is open on warmer days.  Whitney hopes to use that space in the future to expand, offering more vendor booths.

Currently, A Sweet Southern Mess has vendors that sell boutique clothing, antiques, local art, handmade quilts, collectibles, refurbished furniture, jewelry, and essential oil products.

The bakery sells traditional bakery items such as cakes and cupcakes as well as coffee, ice cream, popcorn and other snacks.

“Madison has really come together over the last few years in promoting each other’s small business and supporting each other, and I didn’t want to miss an opportunity to join in on that camaraderie. I love the small town charm, and the idea that the Town of Madison could be a place where people want to come visit, whether to have an experience at Southern Spirits and enjoy their food, get a fresh coffee at The Mad Bean, shop the lovely boutique items at PBJ’s Boutique, get eloped at Bakery 1818, enjoy a home cooked meal at Bob’s Restaurant, get their farm supplies or dog food from Y&W Farm Center, or just walk up and down the streets and take in all that Madison has to offer,” she said.

Whitney added, “I hope that our store adds to this small town charm that everyone has come to know and love.”

A Sweet Southern Mess Antique Mall is located at 210 East Murphy Street in historic downtown Madison.  Hours are Tuesday-Thursday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

A grand opening celebration is planned for Saturday, April 27 from 1-6 p.m.  There will be food available to purchase by a local caterer, live music provided by local musicians, drinks for sale by Southern Spirits, and lots of door prizes.

For information on vendor spaces or to learn more about this new business, contact Whitney Stewart at 336.509.0961 or email: asweetsouthernmessantiquemall@gmail.com.

Entrepreneurship Week Spotlight: Sutherland Products, Inc. in Mayodan & Stoneville

Sutherland Products Inc., makers of Charlie’s Soap, original location and production facility in Mayodan, NC.

The original Sutherland Products Inc. cleaner, Charlie’s Soap, was created to clean textile machines in the local mills.  This homegrown, family company was founded by entrepreneur and self-proclaimed “tinkerer” Charlie Sutherland, Jr. in Mayodan, NC in the early 70s and was in the “green” products business long before “green” products were popular.   Fast forward more than 40 years and today the company is run by the next generation of Sutherlands, has two locations, is sold worldwide, and is a great success story of reinvention.

When the textile mills moved oversees, the second generation of Sutherlands—Charlie’s sons Taylor, James and Morgan—restructured and grew the business beyond industrial cleaning.  In 2002, Charlie’s sons took over, launched the Laundry Powder, rebranded the company and its products, and modernized operations.

Since then, Sutherland Products has enjoyed an average 25% growth year over year.  The company sells products online as well as through thousands of brick and mortar locations in all 50 states and 50 countries.

Charlie’s Soap family of cleaning products, manufactured in Rockingham County, North Carolina.

Using the same basic formula, which is all natural, environmentally safe and hypoallergenic, Charlie’s Soap now includes a full line of cleaning products from laundry detergent, all-purpose cleaners, indoor/outdoor cleaner, and more.  Still a family-run business, Sutherland Products’ growth can be attributed to a quality product that works well and is safe for the environment and sensitive skin—and best of all, the company was “green” long before green products were a trend.

Sutherland Products announced an expansion at the end of 2016 and opened a second facility, a new distribution and office complex in 2017.  The company invested over $1,000,000 in the purchase and upfit of  a 120,000 square foot building in Stoneville, which was a former furniture manufacturing facility.  The new Stoneville facility houses the company’s professional staff, packaging and warehouse. Production of Charlie’s Soap cleaning products remains in Mayodan, the company’s original base since 1976

“We were in  dire need of more space for our logistics and distribution, especially because our laundry powder has been hovering in the number one spot on Amazon for more than five years in a row now.  This new location has allow

Morgan Stutherland stands in the new warehouse and office complex in Stoneville, NC.

ed us to make that process more efficient,” said Taylor Sutherland, president of Sutherland Products, Inc. “The new space allowed us to design the offices and warehouse to include more natural lighting, which will make the work environment better for our employees.”

Sutherland added, “Our new facility in Stoneville has also allowed us to better coordinate efforts to expand our product line and distribution throughout the U.S. and Canada.”

Look for Charlie’s Soap products at a retailer near you or visit the company’s web site: www.CharlieSoap.com.

Entrepreneurship Week Spotlight: Tree Enterprises in Reidsville

Tree Enterprises, family-owned textile company grows into new markets

Tree Enterprises
Tish Terry in one of her storage rooms, featuring Tree Enterprises’ child care products.

Tree Enterprises is a small, family-owned textile business in Rockingham County, NC that began producing custom crib sheets for day care centers almost 40 years ago. Jim Jefferson, who started the company to provide sheets for a friend’s child care center, made and sold the sheets out of the basement of his Stoneville home. “Those sheets were cut out by hand on our kitchen table from Fieldcrest sheeting that we bought from the “thirds and worse” box at the factory outlet. The colors were the worst of the worst, but the quality was the best of the best,” said Tish Terry, Jim’s daughter and current owner of Tree Enterprises.

It was that high quality sheeting that grew Tree Enterprises’ reputation and success, allowing the company to be run by the next generation now. Jim’s daughter Tish Terry took over the family business and is growing the company, doubling the sales over time.

When Fieldcrest closed, Tish began importing sheeting fabric from China that is pre-sewn for the final step of adding locally-made elastic. This allowed her to expand the company’s product line and now offer a range of colors, including exclusive custom prints that her daughter, Alexa, designed. “The great news is that we no longer get the “thirds” in colors and now have 11, in-stock solid colors, plus the custom prints.” added Tish.

Tree Enterprises now offers a diverse variety of specialty products to complement the sheeting line. The company manufactures nearly 200 variations of 14 different products, which includes sheets, burp cloths, blankets, pillows, play mats and more.

Tish has also grown the business by expanding into more child care centers over a broader geographic base. She also developed a significant business by supplying US Military child care centers. She continues to expand Tree Enterprises into new markets and most recently won several national Head Start accounts as well as business from franchise day care centers.

All this growth resulted in a new facility for Tree Enterprises about two years ago when Tish built a facility in Reidsville. The company has also added some part-time positions.

Though Tree Enterprises’ competition tends to be large commodity suppliers, Tish has been able to differentiate the products based on high quality—higher end materials designed to last longer and be easier to clean and reuse. Customer service and customer relations are also essential to the company’s growth and the perfect complement to its premium product line. “High quality sheeting is what our customers have grown to expect from us and we will not deviate from that expectation from our manufacturers now. Ours is a true family business, and when you call you will likely talk to me, my mom or my daughter Alexa,” said Tish.

To find out more about Tree Enterprises and its products, visit www.treeenterprises.com.

Rockingham County Celebrates Career & Technical Education Month

County Manager Lance Metzler signs the CTE Month proclamation surround by Dr. Mark Kinlaw, president of RCC; Dr. Kenny Scott, CTE director for Rockingham County Schools; Dr. Rodney Shotwell, superintendent of Rockingham County Schools; Col. Mark Richardson, Rockingham County commissioner; Paula Rakestraw, Rockingham County Board of Education; and Reece Pyrtle, chairman of Rockingham County Commissioners.

County Manager, Lance Metzler officially declared February as National Career and Technical Education Month.

CTE Month highlights the offerings that are available through Rockingham Community College’s programs that specialize in skilled trades, applied sciences, modern technologies and career preparation.   These programs range from Health Science to Cosmetology and Fire Fighting to Advanced Manufacturing and more.

Rockingham County Schools and RCC work hand in hand to prepare individuals for technical careers that result in meaningful and high paying jobs in the local community.   Students can begin transitioning from high school CTE courses to community college courses while still in high school.

The CTE Month proclamation also kicks off the annual RockATOP Apprenticeship Invitational event.  Twenty seven students were invited to attend this four evening event.  Currently 17 apprentices who completed the event last year are working with local companies.  The Invitational allows students and company representatives to work together to learn about each other to determine the best placements for apprentices. Students come from both private and public schools in Rockingham County.

An apprenticeship allows the student to work for a company, receiving hands on training and supervision while they are also attending the community college working on an Associate’s Degree.  At the end of their successful apprenticeship program, the company has a well trained highly skilled laborer and  the student has a completed, debt free Associate’s degree.    At that point many apprentices continue to work with their company while continuing with additional college training.

Company participation in the program has grown from five companies last year to 10 this year.  Current participants are Abco Automation, Amcor, Bridgestone, Frontier Spinning Mills, Keystone Foods, Machine Specialties Inc, Pine Hall Brick, Ruger Firearms, Smith-Carolina and Wieland Copper Products.

Students who complete the Invitational may be offered pre-apprenticeship positions this summer as the prequel to full apprenticeship positions in the fall.  They will complete six weeks of work with their assigned company and will complete two college courses during the summer.

More information regarding RockATOP can be requested from www.rockinghamapprenticeship.com

Community Celebrates New Albaad FEM Plant in Reidsville

Israeli wet wipes and hygiene products manufacturer, Albaad, celebrated the opening of its new plant in Reidsville today.  A ribbon cutting at the new Albaad FEM Plant, which is the company’s second facility here, was hosted by the Reidsville Chamber of Commerce.  Officials from Albaad, the City of Reidsville, Rockingham County, and the Chamber joined in on the festivities.

In April 2018, Governor Roy Cooper announced Albaad’s expansion plans, which include creating 302 new jobs and investing $45 million locally.  The company is investing in its existing facility on Technology Drive and also at this Albaad FEM plant, which is the former Ball Corp. plant on Barnes Street.

Albaad USA is a multinational manufacturer of wet wipes and other hygiene products.  The expansion will enable the company to produce additional lines of personal care products in Rockingham County.

When Albaad located in the Reidsville Industrial Park in 2004, it was the company’s first U.S. production facility.  The company, which was the first tenant in the industrial park, has a current workforce of about 225.

Albaad USA manufactures wet wipes for brands such as Bert’s Bees at the Reidsville, NC facility.

As a world leader in non-woven textiles, Albaad makes private-label and branded products that are sold in more than 35 countries.  The Reidsville plant is a full-production facility consisting of manufacturing, converting, packaging and distribution.  The company was initially attracted to Rockingham County and North Carolina because of our talented and skilled labor force, location along the east coast transportation corridor, and accessibility to ports and the FedEx hub at Piedmont Triad International Airport.



Leigh Cockram, director of Economic Development, Small Business & Tourism.

WENTWORTH, NC (Feb. 1, 2019) – Rockingham County Manager Lance Metzler appointed Leigh H. Cockram as the new director of Economic Development, Small Business & Tourism today.


He welcomed Cockram, who is from Collinsville, VA, to the Rockingham County family and explained, “She is extremely qualified for this critical leadership position due to years of management, planning, business development, and high-quality program coordination.  Her successful career illustrates her leadership with an award-winning start-up business, a regional economic development organization, and the recipient of multiple patents.”


Cockram begins her tenure on Tuesday, Feb. 5th, and said:  “I am honored to be joining Rockingham County’s team.  I see incredible potential to build upon the great work being done to increase the economic health of the county and create jobs for its citizens.  I am eager to start working and look forward to this opportunity.”


She is the founder and chief executive officer of RaesWear, LLC, where she invented and patented the 360 degree waistband pocket for leggings and other athleisure wear clothing.  Since the company’s founding in 2013, Cockram increased sales by 178 percent through the development and implementation of an independent workforce of women across the United States.  She led the business to win the Under Armour Future Show Innovation Challenge in 2015, with mentions in Good Housekeeping, Women’s Running, WWD, Women’s World, Runner’s World, NBC News, and others.


Prior to that, Cockram served as director of Research and Business Development for the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research in Virginia.  While there, she was recognized for handling a departmental budget of $1.2 million, managing the Virginia Governor’s Office on the first Virginia AgBio Conference, and serving as a member of the Virginia Bio Board.


She was also founder and executive director of the Southern Virginia Regional Alliance, where she identified new prospects for the region and led the marketing of the four-county, two-city organization.


Cockram’s other relevant experiences include:   vice president of the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corporation; sales associate and then sales manager for Commonwealth Laminating & Coating; and marketing assistant with Martinsville Speedway.


Her Bachelor of Arts degree is from the University of Virginia-Charlottesville, and she has an Economic Development Institute Certificate from the University of Oklahoma in Norman, OK.


Cockram serves as chair of the Henry-Martinsville Dept. of Social Services; advisory board member for the BB&T Local Chapter; member of the Martinsville-Henry County Chamber of Commerce; and adjunct faculty member at Patrick Henry Community College.


Cockram replaces Jan Critz-Yokeley, who moved to Wilmington in Dec.