Meet Emily Barnes from Bravo Steaks

women in business series from North Carolina Lifestyle Blogger Adventures of Frugal Mom

I have never been more honored to host a profile on this blog than the one I am hosting today. I have been following Emily Barnes from Bravo Steaks for some time on Instagram. I love the way she shares about farming life in her stories. It is informative and most importantly the real story behind farming, not the one that most media outlets want you to believe. Not only does she share about the cattle they raise but also about life on the farm. Like for instance, how they have a dairy cow named Rhubarb (stories highlighting her are always a highlight of my day) and all their momma pigs are named after cosmetics companies. So sit back and read about this hardworking farmer, Emily Barnes. And remember if you missed any of the other women profiled in this series you can always catch up here.

Meet Emily Barnes from Bravo Steaks Women in Business Series from North Carolina Lifestyle Blogger Adventures of Frugal Mom

Tell me a little bit about you. 

Hi, I’m Emily Barnes.  I’m a farmer in eastern North Carolina.  I live in Sampson County with my husband, John, and we raise cattle and pigs.  I’ve owned beef cattle for essentially my entire life, and the pigs are a relatively new addition for us.  I am a North Carolina native and a graduate of NCSU and UNC.  I work full-time+ on our farm with daily feeding chores, cattle management and marketing, beef and pork marketing, and accounting for our small businesses.  I work part-time off the farm as a pharmacist for a locally owned independent pharmacy in Fayetteville. 

Meet Emily  from Bravo Steaks Women in Business Series from North Carolina Lifestyle Blogger Adventures of Frugal Mom

Tell me about your business. 

We started Bravo Steaks in 2019 as a way to market beef raised by us on our farm.  We live in a pretty rural area of NC but we had friends/family who lived far away and expressed interest in our buying Angus beef raised by us – because they know us!  We wanted a way to reach a larger audience and decided to try to sell our farm products (dry-aged beef) online –  We find that lots of folks want to experience daily farm life, and we are able to provide real farm life here in North Carolina through our regular updates on social media, especially Instagram (find us @bravosteaks).  We added purebred Berkshire pigs in late 2019, and we’ll be adding pasture-raised Berkshire pork to our online farm store in May 2020.   We also sell cattle as breeding animals (called seedstock) to other farmers.

Meet Emily Barnes from Bravo Steaks Women in Business Series from North Carolina Lifestyle Blogger Adventures of Frugal Mom

What struggles have you faced in your business? 

A better question might be what struggles HAVEN’T we faced?!!?  Struggles are also great learning opportunities.  I’ll describe four. 

1.     Our work caring for our livestock is dependent on the weather, which is basically entirely out of our control. The care of our livestock is our priority, so we are continually adapting to changing forecasts to make plans & adjustments based off weather conditions.  

2.     Learning how to ship our frozen beef was a challenge, but it’s been worth the time and energy to be able to ship our farm products directly to our customers doorsteps nationwide. 

3.     One of the biggest bottlenecks to our growth is terrible rural internet service.  This past week it took me 23 minutes to try to upload a 21 second video to Instagram from my home internet provider.  COME ON – it’s 2020 and rural internet in North Carolina needs to be brought up to speed, quite literally.  Our solution is that we drive “to town” and use cell phone data to upload videos in a fraction of the time.  (Cell phone coverage is poor in our home location also.)

4.     We’ve struggled with online copycats using our creative content.  On one hand this is a compliment because they certainly wouldn’t be copying our work if they didn’t think it was awesome! — but in reality, it’s a slap in the face for someone else to duplicate our hard work and try to claim it as their own.  The solution here has been trademark protections and legal consultations concerning copyright infringement.  For whatever reason, sometimes folks think the online space is free game to copy and it’s not – we’re in the final steps of trademarking our brand and logo, and our entire website and online farm store is protected by copyright. 

How have you overcome those struggles?

GRIT.  We are perseverant.  We are willing to try new things.  Failure isn’t the endpoint – it’s just a pivot point. 

Meet Emily Barnes from Bravo Steaks Women in Business Series from North Carolina Lifestyle Blogger Adventures of Frugal Mom

Who were your mentors growing up? 

I have outstanding parents who encouraged independence.  In grad school, I worked on several Angus ranches in Kansas who were owned and operated by husband-wife teams – they shared the workload, responsibilities, and decision making evenly.

If you were to give advice to a woman going into the field you are in what would it be?

1.     Quality in, quality out – invest in quality livestock and equipment. 

2.     If you want to raise livestock for meat, buy good livestock scales to get accurate weights to learn along the way. 

3.     Be willing to be different, and be willing to change if what you’re doing isn’t working. 

4.     Buy good shoes and workboots – nothing is worse than sore feet, especially knowing you need to get up tomorrow and get back on those sore feet.

5.     Know your strengths and your weaknesses.  Don’t be afraid to get help or outsource those weaknesses.

Meet Emily  from Bravo Steaks Women in Business Series from North Carolina Lifestyle Blogger Adventures of Frugal Mom

Have you found that being a woman in your field is harder or easier? Tell me about the advantages and disadvantages of being a woman. 

I think that male-dominated cultures persist in certain areas of North Carolina, particularly rural areas, under the shroud of certain religious influences.  (There are a lot of women that openly allow this to continue.)  I don’t fit into that jello-mold.  So yes – working in rural areas in agriculture can sometimes come with inappropriate comments from men and raised eyebrows from men AND women.  I just keep on rollin’ and don’t give those comments any traction.   In my opinion, the progressive cattle industry is incredibly inclusive of women, both in North Carolina and across the US. 

Advantages in livestock – this is just my opinion Women are more detail-oriented.  Women have smaller hands and can be taught to be more proficient at livestock reproductive skills that need small hands – such as artificially inseminating heifers or farrowing (birthing) piglets.  As a woman, I’m compassionate, a storyteller, and an adequate home cook – and I use all of these “feminine-ish” traits to help me sell premium farm-raised meat. 

Disadvantages – Men who are instructive are called leaders.  Women who are instructive *in the same exact way* are called bossy, or worse.  Women need to have a thick skin and the tenacity to roll past the occasional off-comment.  One more disadvantage (haha):  I can’t lift as much weight – like, physical pounds. 

Have you ever had to overcome a hostile work environment? 

My work environment is pretty self-made and independent – it’s up to us (my husband and me) to create a supportive environment.  We are fortified by a supportive tribe – family, mentors, livestock customers, Bravo Steaks customers, and social media friends. 

What made you decide on your chosen field? 

I enjoy raising livestock, and I like working outdoors.  My husband has these mutual interests and we need each other to be able to do the work we do on our farm.  We think that agriculture can improve, and we offer parts of the solution.  I like to cook and use quality ingredients, so it’s an honor to be able to provide that to other families with our dry aged beef and Berkshire pork. 

Meet Emily from Bravo Steaks Women in Business Series from North Carolina Lifestyle Blogger Adventures of Frugal Mom

Anything else you would care to share. 

My favorite quote regarding women in the business, from Toni Morrison:

“It’s sometimes surprising to discover the cumulative progress women have made in recent times.  Just think, what field has not been enriched by females in art, theater, finance, politics, law, entrepreneurship, science.  The list is as impressive as it is enlightening.  To realize that we’re no longer pioneers, the startling exception, the first to fly, or swim, or sail prodigious distances in bad weather.  No longer the first to be elected, the first to discover cures in medicine, or the first to untangle problems in science, math, or physics.  No.  We are multitudes, and society is clearly the better for our peaceful invasion.  There is no modernity and no justice without the talent, the passion, and the steely intelligence of women.”

Brief bio:

Emily Barnes – farmer and online small business owner.  Follow us on Instagram at @bravosteaks or shop our online farm store at

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