Bread of the South

UofSC alumna Carrie Morey is building a biscuit empire, one Hot Little Biscuit at a time

Carrie Morey’s hands are busy. They work the butter, flour, buttermilk and the not-so-secret-any-longer ingredient – cream cheese – that fills the deep, stainless steel bowl. It’s a physical job, making the biscuits that have made her famous.

Morey is the founder and face of Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit. What started as a part-time mail-order biscuit-making endeavor from her kitchen in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, has grown to include eateries in Charleston, Atlanta and Charlotte, a thriving online and grocery store business, and her own television show on PBS, How She Rolls. Her cookbook, Hot Little Suppers: Simple Recipes to Feed Family and Friends, was published by Harper Horizon in November.

It’s not something she imagined when she was earning her degree in education at the University of South Carolina. Or when she was working in Nantucket or out west or in New York City. But when she married, moved home to Charleston and started life as a stay-at-home mom, she had time to think about her next professional step.

“I wanted to create a business around my priority, which is my children, and I knew that I wanted it to be about my passion, which is food. But I knew that owning a restaurant wasn’t going to be conducive to raising children,” Morey says. “So, I was trying to figure out, ‘OK, how do I stay in the food world but not own a restaurant?’”

She would turn to her Lowcountry upbringing — and to her mother, Callie, the name and recipe holder behind the biscuits now enjoyed all over the country. She convinced her mother that they could create a successful internet company selling biscuits made from her family recipe. Her mother would make the biscuits; Morey would market and sell them. The business was born 16 years ago, when Morey’s oldest daughter was 8 months old.

But Mom didn’t stay in the venture long. “She hated it,” Morey says with a laugh. “She didn’t believe in it. She thought it was a crazy idea.” 

Crazy or not, the business sure has been successful.

Biscuits are the bread of the South, but I have found that biscuits aren’t just for Southerners.

Carrie Morey, Callie's Hot Little Biscuit founder, UofSC alumna

It started slowly, just the way Morey wanted it to, giving her time to learn the ropes while raising her three daughters.  As she likes to say, they were “playing in business.” She also needed time to figure things out.

She opened the first store when her youngest child started kindergarten, and she set the hours so she could close by 2 p.m. She saw the Charleston storefront as a marketing tool for her online and wholesale business “to put a face with our brand.”

“I wasn’t opening it because I wanted to have Hot Little Biscuits everywhere,” she says. “My business plan was ‘don’t lose money.’ So, literally, how many transactions do I need to have a day to not go out of business? I wanted this to be a marketing technique, where people feel it and taste it and experience it, and then I want you to go home and order them online or go to your grocery store and request them. It was never, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m going to have restaurants.’ But now we are in three states. It has been a really nice surprise to have people receive it so well.”

Her biscuit empire now includes four Hot Little Biscuit stores, a food truck, a catering business, a production facility that ships biscuits to about 2,000 grocery stores all over the country and a staff of more than 70. Every single buttery biscuit is made by hand. She is now looking at space in Charleston to consolidate some of the employees and operations, and perhaps a location that includes enough room for cooking classes and an “interactive biscuit experience” for visitors.

She’s also becoming a TV personality. A production company heard her story and called in 2018, gauging her interest in a television program, possibly to air on the Food Network or E! or Bravo. She passed. But when the interest came from PBS, it felt like something that would be more educational and less sensational.

How She Rolls, a half-hour lifestyle documentary and culinary series on PBS that airs nationally on stations from D.C. to Denver to Los Angeles, follows Morey at home, at her kids’ sporting events, making business decisions and, of course, making biscuits.

The television show has offered her the chance to build her brand, tell her story and, hopefully, inspire other women. But the biscuits themselves remain the focus, and there is no shortage of flavors or ways to prepare and serve them — whether with sharp cheddar mixed in or topped with icing for dessert.

“I hope these biscuits evoke comfort and maybe memories of childhood or family heirloom traditions,” Morey says. “Biscuits are the bread of the South, but I have found that biscuits aren’t just for Southerners.”

Inspiring student entrepreneurs

Carrie Morey rolls out more than biscuits. She also inspires students at her alma mater, mentoring student entrepreneurs at the University of South Carolina’s Darla Moore School of Business. Morey’s father, Don Bailey, who played football and served on the university’s Board of Trustees, suggested she participate in the mentoring program, and her first student mentee graduated in May. “That time in your life is such an exciting time. And to think about ‘How can I help this person?’ is so fulfilling and fun,” she says. “I would have loved to have had somebody to talk to that had already been through it.”

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