This week’s writing prompt: an interview with a conquerer who used a really common item to take over the world. Read todays entry by THE Anne Reynolds!
Just a Farm Girl
by Anne Reynolds
From an interview with Jaycie Montgomery, founder and “head guru” at Better Barn, the internet’s most electrifying fitness and wellness phenomenon. From her multi-platform empire founded on the “friendliest fitness family” on the web, Montgomery has expanded into lifestyle clothing, body care, and a soon-to-open wellness retreat center in her native Franklin County, Virginia.
I don’t do it because it’s easy. I do what I do because I’m helping people, all kinds of people, be the best person they can. When I got my first million followers on Facebook, that told me I was on to something. And those followers tell me all the time what a difference I make. I am proud of that. To be an inspiration and a resource for all those people trying to be better.
But don’t think for a minute that it’s easy. That it’s easy being the queen. You know, at heart, I’m just a farm girl. But I’m happy to fill you in about the secrets to my success, because honey, there are no secrets.
And believe me, I am proud of my roots, down here in Franklin County, but from a very young age, I decided that I wasn’t going to be just another dairy farm girl. I found my niche in exercise. I started jogging in high school up and down these rolling hills, on the twisty moonshiner roads, all the way to a scholarship at a college you’ve heard of, instead of following the herd to Virginia Tech just down the road.
But I came back, of course, with my chemistry degree in one hand and my business degree in the other and a plan to bring our family farm into the 21st century.
Farming has been in the Montgomery family for almost 200 years! We started raising dairy cows and tobacco almost as soon as we rolled down the Carolina Road from Pennsylvania. I left the cows to my brother, who had followed expectations to ag school at the university. But the two of us worked together to perfect the little patch of tobacco that we still keep at the back of the farm – a relic, really, of Virginia’s long history with the original “sweet leaf.” And we were the team that created the secret recipe for that ice cream that’s become the star of our family business. Have I mentioned that Monty’s Soft Serve is the best-selling dairy product in the world? Do I need to?
I know you have a pint or two in your freezer. Everybody does. But never mind that now, that’s a story for another time.
Through those early years when we were modernizing the business, I kept on running on those narrow Franklin County roads, just as all my old buddies from 4H were running up and down the aisles of the local churches and in and out of divorce court. And they’d shake their heads at me. “Look at you with that exercise,” they’d say. And, “You’re so skinny.” And sometimes, “You’re so inspirational.”
That was my lightbulb moment. That’s when I realized that I could inspire people just by doing what I do naturally. “Come join me,” I told my old high school classmates, and we started meeting in one of the conference rooms at the diary’s offices to work out a couple of days a week. They started telling their friends, and pretty soon we outgrew the conference room. It was then that I designed and built the original Better Barn, remodeling a real barn on a piece of property next to our farm.
Then along came social media and the Better Barn found its real home. I started a Facebook group, then a YouTube and an Instagram feed, and they just grew and grew – we now have more than a million followers on each platform! Our Facebook page has hundreds of likes on each post and I feel like we’re spreading our message of health, wellness and fitness further and further with every new friend we make.
But you know, I’m just the same old girl I always was. And that’s what I think resonates with people. They know that I’m not here to judge them.
Heck, I’ve got my little scoop of Monty’s at the end of the day, just like everyone else. We need a treat, right? I know that famous little dish of ice cream is addictive – almost as habit-forming as the tobacco that used to drive the economy around here. Some tell me that it’s exactly the type of buzz they get from nicotine, isn’t that crazy?
But as long as you’ve got me to help you work off that soft serve, who says you can’t keep on treating yourself?