Meet Amy- wife, homeschool mama, and owner/operator of JB’s Pickle Pantry
You’ve likely seen her at our events because she the mom friend who never fails to volunteer to help us out when we need it most. She’s the smiling face walking around wrangling our kids or making sure we got some food in our bodies at our packed and busy Moms Night Out event in May. She’s our girl, Amy, and we’re absolutely thrilled to feature her today!
Amy Bivins is Georgia born, but boy is she Texas proud! And, she loves the Katy community! We met Amy when we were new to our neighborhood and still trying to truly find our people. Amy’s been a working mom, a stay at home mom, and a working stay at home mom, so she never fails to build those up around her, knowing the challenges we all face in motherhood. She worked in Accounting, a traditionally male-driven industry, and proved she could juggle a demanding career and being a mom to the two biggest joys of her life, daughter, Audrey and son, Landon.
But, when she noticed both her kids struggling in school, both in different ways but ultimately testing their confidence and self-worth, Amy made the ultimate sacrifice, leap of faith, and decided to bring her kids home from the public school system. She left her full-time job and became their teacher and rescued them from the feelings that they weren’t good enough or smart enough. Just six months ago, she started work on unraveling the lies they were telling themselves and incorporated working on their hearts, just as much as their minds.
Their journey with home school is beautifully and honestly documented on her Instagram page, rightfully titled Renegade Homeschool. As an adjective, renegade means having treacherously changed allegiance. And that’s exactly what Amy felt they did. She decided her kids were not going to live by the labels given to them in the public school system, and she began the journey of working on their hearts, their mental health, and building them back up.
We’ve had the pleasure of watching their journey unfold first hand, as this sweet family lives directly behind Nat and all our kids (and even our husbands) are dear friends. We’ve seen a beautiful change in all of them and it’s a joy to witness.
And just when we thought Amy couldn’t do or take on anything else, she decided to launch into entrepreneurship with her husband, Jeremy, with their pickle business, JB’s Pickle Pantry. The J in JB is for her mother Jo, who passed away five years ago and Amy says this business is to honor her.
It’s her pickle recipe that’s lived on through generations and become a family tradition to share with friends and loved ones that inspired Amy and Jeremy to share it with the community. Jo’s even made a believer out of us, y’all- these pickles are unreal good. Unreal! They make and deliver them locally and you can catch them at local community events and farmer’s markets.
They make this a true family business, teaching their kids about entrepreneurship, hard work, and community involvement. You can see their kids out with them at local events and they even help in pickle making process!
We just love getting the chance to shoutout the amazing things women are capable of and it’s our belief that Katy, Texas has some of the most talented, brave, inspiring women. Amy’s undoubtedly one of them.
Check out our interview with our beautiful (inside and out!) friend and learn more about her homeschool journey and her pickle business that she has big dreams for!
Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in the Katy area?
We are from metro Atlanta but have lived in Katy for 3 years. The hubby’s job brought us here!
How many kiddos do you have and how old are they?
2 kids, daughter 10, son will soon be 6!
What’s your favorite thing about raising a family in Katy?
So many things to do in and around this area!! We love that we have nature, parks, the city, and the beach all within reach!
Least favorite mom job? (i.e. packing lunches, dishes, bath time, etc.)
Best mom hack that makes life easier?
Do 1 load of laundry everyday (wash, dry, put away) then you’re never behind.
What are your favorite local things to do in Katy? (with kiddos or just for mom!)
Biking through our neighborhood or at local parks, visiting downtown/old town Katy (No Label, shops and restaurants), drinks and dinner with girlfriends at a number of great restaurants!
We’re big on self-care for moms, as hard as it is to find the time, what’s something you do for just you?
Run, draw a bath and turn on Netflix.
One thing people would be surprised to know about you…
I’m dying to learn to fly.
You made a big decision this year to bring your kids home from the school system, quite your full time job, and start homeschooling – tell us about how your family came to that decision.
My kids were square pegs in round holes. They both had needs that just cannot be met in a classroom of 20+ kids. We tried everything we could and worked with the schools but ultimately decided that something had to give. Traditional schooling will always be there – they need something completely opposite of what their experiences have been so homeschool was a great choice. We could customize their education and meet them exactly where each uniquely are!
How has your family changed since beginning homeschool? What has been the most unexpected change?
We have become so much closer. My kids relationship with each other was pretty rocky. Over the past 6 months they have grown together so much and realized they really enjoy each other’s company. It’s been a beautiful growth to witness.
Most unexpected change…me REALLY loving this new life we have cultivated. I realized for so long I was literally just going through the motions of each day. Now I am far more present. Such a gift.
What is your favorite thing about being your kid’s teacher?
Learning just as much (if not more) as they do! I get to go down my own little rabbit holes!
What are some of the best resources you have found in the area for homeschool families?
The library and the internet. You can conquer the world with both. We have some really awesome groups on FB and amazing moms who will share all.the.things. There is such an amazing homeschool community here in Katy both secular and religious!
What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about homeschool moms?
I think there is still a huge misconception that our kids are not socialized and that we are somehow doing a disservice to them. My kids social obligations far exceed mine and we have to say no to so much or we’d never get school work done! Our kids get to interact with adults and kids of various ages weekly.
Now, let’s talk about PICKLES! You also recently started a family business making pickles, tell us about the inspiration behind JB’s Pickle Pantry?
When I left full time work to homeschool, I wanted to find something I loved to supplement our income…and My Momma came to mind! (The J in JB is for her, Jo) We spent most summers while our oldest was a babe working in the garden and kitchen back home helping her can, pickle, and preserve the harvest. We loved pickling. We even grew three different types of peppers (serrano, habanero, and jalapeno) to test in our pickles. Ultimately we loved the flavor of the habanero. Jeremy and I have been making them in our kitchen for years and sharing at family and friend gatherings…so we decided why not give it a go and see where it takes us!
How does your family (husband and kids) help with the pickle making process?
Jeremy is literally the muscle of the operation. He loved my Momma and loves making our pickles. I help wherever he needs me too in the kitchen and it’s a sweet time for us to spend together. He says I’m “the brains” of our operation – so I do all social media, process orders, etc. The kids help with measuring spices, washing/sanitizing jars, and labeling once they are ready. All kinds of learning going on in and out of the kitchen. Our daughter even runs the merchant services at our events without any help from us! She’s got such an entrepreneurial spirit.
What are the different pickles you make and how do we get them?
Dill and Hot Habanero are our “bread and butter” (pun totally intended) with seasonal rotations…we rotate, pickled okra, sweet pickles and other veggies too. We are open to new ideas and love for people to share what they want to see!
You can find us on instagram/facebook @jbspantrypickles and order there or send us an email at [email protected]
You can also find us here in Katy most every 3rd Saturday of the month with our pickleball friends, pickle and pints, at No Label from 5p-8pm!
What is your hope and future plans for JB’s Pickle Pantry?
We want to stay small. I don’t dream of being on store shelves. My heart is people. I would love to franchise small or start a non profit to share and create a canning/pickling community for those who need life skills training (such as those adults with Down Syndrome, Autism, those that struggle with mental health/addiction) – we would teach them the basics, share the recipes, and assist with getting there little business in markets, etc….you know the concept of give a man a fish feed him a day, teach him to fish feed him for life…that just with pickles!!
How do you balance launching and growing a family business, homeschooling your kids, and being a mama and wife?
I DON’T…I ride the hot mess express everyday BUT I have an amazing hubby and tribe of women who love and support me and fill my cup up constantly and I make it a point to spend time with them as often as I can.
Best advice for moms who experience the inevitable and dreaded MOM GUILT?
You are not alone and we all feel it. Reach out to someone when you are experiencing it- we have so much more in common than different!
Who has most influenced you to be the mom you are today?
My mother. She was a beautiful soul and my best friend. Hope I am making her proud.
When parenting gets hard, what’s something you tell yourself that gets you through?
Something my Momma used to say: This too shall pass. It’s only a season.
For more information on Amy, you can follow along with her on FB & IG on both handles: @renegadehomeschool and @jbspantrypickles