Shortly after my move from New York to Alabama, I was sitting alone at our local Italian restaurant, reading magazines. After a while, a couple who’d been sitting across the room approached and introduced themselves to me. That couple, Jennifer and Robert Rausch, quickly became fixtures in my life; they’ve remained integral members of my Alabama family since that day.
These days, you can find Jennifer overseeing the day-to-day operations of the new flagship store and café at The Factory. She agreed to work with us at just the right time. The company was growing and I needed someone I could trust to help me make decisions that were thoughtful and confident. Growing a company can make one feel vulnerable; having an old friend there for support (especially one with an incredible work ethic) put me a bit more at ease.
She moves effortlessly between tasks and has a real desire to connect with everyone who walks through our door. This genuine approach, coupled with her wicked, infectious laugh, drew me to her initially and continues to make me smile, calm me, and draw me out of my shell when I become too introspective. She is practical and doesn’t hesitate to offer her opinion, even to play devil’s advocate in tough situations.
Jennifer was born in Barstow, California, to a military family. Her family (she has one sister) moved quite a bit, living for a time in Hawaii, Idaho, Texas, and Tennessee. After settling back in Alabama in the early 1970s, her parents both worked as educators: her mother was an administrator in the nursing department and her father was a professor of secondary education. Jennifer earned a B.S. in Nursing from the University of North Alabama and worked for about 15 years as a registered nurse.
Jennifer has, amazingly, known her husband since she was 12 years old (their mothers worked together). They have been married for 20 years and are raising cats, chickens, and four teenagers – two boys and two girls. They cultivate a wonderful garden and, ironically, her vegetarian husband raises grass-fed cattle. Jennifer homeschooled her children for many years—a responsibility that she only recently relinquished. She hadn’t really planned to work and laughingly says that she was gearing up for her first vacation in years. She says that – most days – she is glad that she didn’t take that vacation. I can safely say that we at Alabama Chanin are certainly glad that she chose to spend her time with us instead. Smile.
Jennifer says that raising her children and staying present in her marriage has been the biggest learning experience of her life; she believes that surrounding yourself with an honest support system keeps you realistic and honest with yourself. I couldn’t agree more. When asked her approach to work and life she says, “I am really just kind of winging it.” My response to that can only be: this woman has great instincts.
Jennifer Rausch, part of the heart and soul of Alabama Chanin.