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Melissa Ann Barton---A Foodie Creative with a Heart of Gold

Updated: Jul 15, 2019

Melissa Ann is so fun! She is beautiful, both inside and out. She interesting and full of energy and excitement just seem to flow freely from her. Her selflessness is contagious and sense of faith and family are her foundational strength.

Part I-- About Melissa Ann

AAT: Who are you outside of work? Describe life for us.

MAB: My day always begins with Jesus. I get up very early to have my prayer and to study the Word. My faith and my family are my world. I have a teenager who still likes to hang out with me. We both love music, dogs, good food and learning the stories of the people we meet. We still work together to be a friend to those in need. My Daddy is my earthly hero and am so blessed to have him in my daily life. He is 92 and the ROCK STAR of our lives. My husband Alan and I work together on Mod Squad Mutts which is so great. I am so grateful for all the friends I have in my life and staying connected to them is so important. Their footprints on my life are so beautiful. Life for me is all about the experience and really making the most of every opportunity. I have to make someone’s day better and showing gratitude for the incredibly full life I have lived.

AAT: What do you enjoy doing outside of work

MAB:I love being with my family. Being in my kitchen and creating new recipes is so much fun to me! I always have music going and I can not get enough of live music and going to unique record stores with Graham to seek out original vinyl. I have always been a runner and still love to go for long runs. My favorite would have to be helping others with my son!

AAT: What is something that some folks may not realize about you?

MAB: People do not realize all the crazy things I have done that lead me to who and where I am. I have lived life to the fullest which for me includes my wild days which really continued through my thirties. When you do not marry until 39, you have lots of space to go for what you dream about. I started out working for the government. I always wanted to be in the film business since I thought I should have been one of The Partridge Family, so I stayed in that career for several years before opening a furniture store. Then ultimately I began created Mod Squad Martha which has been a dream come true! My secret dream is to be a songwriter.

Part II---About Melissa Ann's Business

AAT: What business do you own? Tell us what type of business it is.

MAB: I own Mod Squad Martha and Mod Squad Mutt. Mod Squad Martha is a line of healthy and versatile sauces and rubs. Mod Squad Mutt is a line of healthy dog treats and lifestyle dog products that was created to provide jobs for kids who are seeking a helping hand, second chance or a way out of poverty.

AAT: When did you begin your business?

MAB: I started Mod Squad Martha in 2001 and Mod Squad Mutt in 2018.

AAT: Where did you begin your business? Is it still located in the same place?

MAB: Mod Squad Martha began in Nashville and my husband sold his business in 2014 and we moved to Charleston which is where the product line idea started. Mod Squad Mutt is located in Nashville.

AAT: Why did you begin your business?

MAB: I owned a furniture store but knew it was not my heart. I decided I was going to be a caterer with a different approach for 2001 in Nashville. I love food and entertaining friends and family and have since I was young and helped my Momma with parties. I really fell in love with food by watching my aunts from Appalachia cook by just throwing ingredients together. It was done with such extraordinary love.

AAT: How did you begin your business?

MAB: I had done craft service on country music video sets and went about it from a different angle. I soon learned how serving good, healthy food with lots of care and kindness made people’s day! That was my lightbulb moment. When I had the store, I would love to set a cool table and throw fun dinner parties with a great mix CD or tape and is where a musician gave me the name Mod Squad Martha. I tilled my entire backyard and grew vegetables and herbs. I learned everything I could about the legalities of the catering business and set out to create 2-4 recipes of my own a day. I also waited tables at night to learn from my culinary hero, Margo McCormack. While waiting tables, I served a couple who I had done the design work for their home. She hired me to do an event for 300 people on a Friday night and 200 on Saturday. I had never catered anything but took it on with only the help of a boyfriend and my Daddy and his truck! Food critic was there, I was written up and from that moment on I have lived out my own Cinderella story.

AAT: What has been your biggest trial?

MAB: My biggest trial in business has been being the kind of planner it takes to accomplish what I am doing. The financial piece has also been very difficult. My other two businesses made money the second month in business and the retail and wholesale food business is a much longer haul. I have learned a great deal from my mistakes and evaluating what really matters. I am constantly working to stay true to who I am and working the plans God has for me.

AAT: What has been your biggest triumph?

MAB: My two biggest triumphs:

1. Making that first event work and ending up cooking in the music business which was a dream.

2. Creating Mod Squad Mutt and providing jobs for these incredible kids who just need a chance.

Part III--What Melissa Ann Says About Collaborations

AAT: Tell us about your most important and impactful collaborations.

MAB: The collaboration between Crossroads and Mod Squad Mutt has been such a gift in the lives of Alan, Graham and I. Since I started Mod Squad Martha I have wanted to work with Crossroads to make Dog Treats. I wanted to provide Crossroads kids with jobs instead of a co-packer and shine the light on the problem and homelessness and poverty for young folks who are 18 -22 and find themselves in hard situations. Some of the kids are homeless from being tossed out of the foster care system, extreme poverty or without anyone to care. We are also working on a whole line of treats and lifestyle dog products, each of them providing a job opportunity for the kids. Crossroads also rescues animals off of death row at Metro and adopt them out through the Crossroads Pet Shop and Adopt store. The healing between the kids and animals is amazing.

I benefit daily from watching the guts and determination and bravery these kids possess and from the incredible volunteers and staff at Crossroads whose hearts are so in the right place. They do not do this work to be seen, just out of a love for others. Lisa Stetar, one of the founders of Crossroads is the most organized, smart and hard working woman I have ever known. She and Alan have similar skill sets and together they are mind blowing. I have such a different skill set and we all learn from each other.

We also collaborate with Emmylou Harris. She is the most selfless person I have ever known. Together, we are a force for the benefit of others which to me is what it is all about. God calls us to go outside our box and this collaboration has helped us all grow in that regard.

AAT: What is something you would do differently?

MAB: The only thing I would have do differently on my own personal plan is be a better planner. It is a weakness of mine!

AAT: Name something you have learned from tyour collaborations?

MAB: What I have learned from Lisa and Emmy is success truly comes from a place of love.

AAT: Okay, give us your best advice, your gracious counsel ffor others wanting to collaborate.

MAB: The best advice I have for others wanting to collaborate is choose your partners wisely. And that is not just from the vantage point of how much money it can bring but rather is this partner’s heart in the place mine is. How can this collaboration help you both grow as business partners and as people.

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