The Southern Inspired Entrepreneur
Article by Ashley Hutcheson
Photography by Gina Whalen
Originally published in Franklin Lifestyle
Walking into Fork of the South you can’t help but be enamored by the entire store. The unabashedly southern inspired store is clearly curated by someone who loves what they do and with fantastic taste. In owner Stefanie Gorman’s own words, “If I don’t love it, we don’t carry it.” The former Williamson County elementary school teacher credits her charge to female entrepreneurship to God and “really taking that leap of faith.”
Hailing from East Tennessee, Stefanie is quick to point out she “won the parental lottery.” She was empowered by both her mother and Mamaw to be herself, without any apologies. Having two strong southern women by her side, specifically her Mamaw, was instrumental in Stefanie’s life. Her learning to cook, her subsequent love for it and her attention to detail are strictly from her Mamaw’s influence.
As a host of two rental cottages, Stefanie was constantly encouraged to share her great style with others; often people wanted to purchase the items in the cottages. When she made up her mind to open a store, she jumped in with both feet to open Fork of the South. The store has 14 employees and supports 85 makers, small businesses and women-owned businesses. Zero in on any product, ask any question, make a comment and Stefanie can tell you all you need to know, and the people and the stories behind the businesses she supports. Honest, positive and upbeat, her emphasis is on everyone feeling valued. When you walk in her door you feel welcomed and important. She’s emphatic about the appreciation she feels when people choose to spend their time and money at Fork of the South over all their other options.
Not just for shopping, Fork of the South serves food, and like the merchandise she carries, if she doesn’t like it, she won’t serve it. As a woman who dislikes anything bland and learned from a true southern cook, their food is “good flavored stuff.” They serve a variety of deliciousness – pulled pork, milkshakes, all beef hotdogs, coleslaw (Stefanie’s own non-mayo, non-vinegar super-food recipe) and chili, to name a few. The most exciting part of the menu is the all-day option for a waffle and not just any waffle, a made-to-order Liege waffle. With only a handful of places you can find these types of waffles in the entire country, you are in for a treat. Slightly crunchy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, the best part is the sugar pearls hiding inside. There are two savory and two sweet flavors, all with sweet local-themed monikers like Leiper’s and Franklin.
A quintessential southern lady, Stefanie’s hard-working drive and ambition is inspiring. In fact, she is opening a second location in Columbia, TN in late summer. Our community is lucky to be the recipient of all her efforts. Visit Fork of the South in the The Factory at Franklin and follow them on Instagram at @forkofthesouth.