HerKentucky Business: Carolyn Gilles

The HerKentucky team is thrilled to present HerKentucky Business, a monthly spotlight on female entrepreneurs in the Bluegrass State.  I recently sat down with Carolyn Gilles of Bourbon and Beans and The Wholesome Chef to talk about business, the Bluegrass, bourbon and beans

Carolyn, a Kentucky native, recently moved to Lexington after spending several years in New York City, where she earned degrees from both the Natural Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts and The New School .  She founded Bourbon & Beans, a full-service marketing, strategy and design firm targeting small businesses and non-profits.  In her "spare time", Carolyn is a cooking instructor and owner of  The Wholesome Chef, and is an MBA candidate. In addition to being smart, ambitious and insightful, Carolyn is extremely warm and gracious.  She provided wonderful advice for prospective Kentucky businesswomen, as she answered HerKentucky's questions, as well as the delightful interview questions that she asks clients on  Bourbon and Beans' own blog. -- HCW

HerKentucky Q&A:

1. What brought you back to Kentucky from NYC?
The promise of a washer, dryer and a porch to sit on. No, really. These three things had me extremely nostalgic for my home state. Once the homesickness really set in, I had convinced my native New Yorker boyfriend that he needed these three things, too. So he applied to UK Med School and the rest is history. And there's not a laundry day that goes by that I'm not grateful that I don't have to clean my dirties out in public.

2. What is the most rewarding part of entrepreneurship/small business ownership?
Flexible schedule and the riddance of silly rules that come with larger companies! I'm a pretty tough boss on myself, but I also seriously enjoy the freedom to "make it happen" on my own time. Also, my heart warms each time I walk into my office. It's work, but it's got my personality all over it. No cubicles or TPS reports here!

3. What was the hardest part of starting a new business?  What do you wish someone had told you before you started Bourbon & Beans?
Hmm...it wasn't "hard" per se because I knew what I was getting myself into...no rose colored glasses. I knew I'd be doing it all myself and that that is very demanding. That being said, the hardest part of starting a new business is losing time to socialize with friends. My top priorities are my businesses and my relationship with my boyfriend. Once those are met, I have very little time for meeting up with friends and that's tough.

4. What suggestions do you have for women (particularly locally) who want to start their own business?
Add a good housekeeper to your budget....build a network/support system to help you with all facets of your life. You can't do it all.

5. How has your personal business path allowed you to combine your interests in good food and business marketing?
I believe that work should not be a place you go to everyday to make money, but rather an action you do everyday that expresses your passions and goals in life that fortunately pays your bills. I'm passionate about working with entrepreneurs (Bourbon & Beans) and I'm passionate about helping people learn to cook and eat better (The Wholesome Chef). I wouldn't have it any other way!

Photo courtesy Megan Hile Photography
Bourbon & Beans Questionnaire:
Name: Carolyn Gilles
Location: Lexington, KY
Occupation: Chef Instructor, Small Business Consultant
Approximate Age: 31

Favorite bourbon? Basil Hayden's

Favorite bean - why? Garbanzo (aka ChickPea). It's awesome prepared in so many different ways!

Were you born in Kentucky? I sure was. Daviess County Hospital.

Do you consider yourself to be sassy? When I need to be ;)

What type of cuisine influences you most? Farm to Table.


What’s your all-time favorite food? The potato. Any which way.

What’s your current favorite food? Raw celery and carrots.

What food do you dislike? Sweet potatoes. I'll eat 'em, but I don't love 'em.

Do you have professional culinary training? Indeed, I do!

Who do you cook for? My students and my boyfriend.

What is/was your favorite cooking job? Chef/Owner at The Wholesome Chef by far!

Can you share one of your cooking secrets with us? Keep it simple. Bake it, sautee it, steam it and add garlic, salt and olive oil.