Barb’s Pies and Pastries
Barb O’Brine is in the business of selling nostalgia.
The owner of Barb’s Pies and Pastries certainly has enough experience doing it. O’Brine has been baking for years and has been running her own baking businesses since 1999. In June 2017, she opened her first brick-and-mortar storefront in Ferndale.
“The love that goes into our pies makes them special. We make it like Grandma made it,” O’Brine says. “We have all scratch recipes so it tastes like a pie that you would make at home.”
Originally the business started as a wholesale bakery, selling to local restaurants and coffee shops in the area. They worked out of a small commercial kitchen in the basement of Cedar’s Restaurant in Ferndale, then expanded to a larger commercial kitchen in the Carnation Building. When the economy took a turn in 2013, so did O’Brine’s business, so she turned the bakery in another direction: wedding cakes.
“Slowly my wholesale business started to decline, but that’s OK because at that time we got hooked up with a couple of wedding coordinators in Bellingham and we started doing weddings,” O’Brine says. “Honestly, we have kind of not looked back.”
Baking wedding cakes was not something O’Brine originally was interested in. She got involved in baking out of necessity. An experienced cook earlier in life, she was looking to spend more time with her children and the only shift that worked with her schedule was a baking shift.
“I can remember saying when I was cooking, ‘Oh gosh, I am a good cook but I am not a baker,’” O’Brine says. “The more I did it the more I loved it. I found that whenever I was having a bad day or stressed out I wanted to bake. It became more of a passion for me.”
Things have changed since then. Instead of making time for her children, her children make time for her. Each of her four children have worked in her shop. From decorating cakes to working on social media or representing the shop at bridal shows, it truly is a family-run business. The bakery needs the help as well. In the last year they created more than 100 wedding cakes.
Besides the cakes, regulars often stop in to order custom pies or even pick up a cinnamon roll, doughnut, or cookie,
each handmade with locally sourced ingredients. It’s one of the upsides to having a shop and not just a commercial kitchen, O’Brine says. She enjoys getting to know her regulars, her neighbors, and her community.
“We know our customers. When you walk in the door if you have been here a few times we know your name, we know what you like.”
For more stories like this, check out our Shop section here.