“Mama” Ann Bailey’s life started difficult and only got worse. Her father died of tuberculosis when she was just two years old and her mother soon followed. Ann was then sent to Oxford Orphanage at the age of eight. The lessons she learned about hard work there would stay with her for the rest of her life.
The summer before Ann was to leave for college at 18 years old she met Clyde Bailey, Sr. and a love story began. Together the couple opened Bailey’s Fine Jewelry in Rocky Mount in 1948. Clyde Sr. was a highly-skilled craftsmen and watchmaker and Ann was a full-time working mother–very rare in those days.
Tragically, Clyde Sr. died when he was only 46 years old. Ann, at just 36 years of age, had one choice: “to keep on keepin’ on” as she likes to say. This motto propelled Ann to become the first female business owner/operator in Nash County. All the men in town had bets on when she would go out of business, but Ann’s response was simply, “they don’t know this girl!”
Recently, Mama Ann received a Women in Business Award from the Triangle Business Journal for her outstanding accomplishments running and expanding the family business. She was recognized at an awards ceremony in front of other driven and successful women where she was given the opportunity to say a few words. Here is her inspiring speech, which resulted in the event’s only standing ovation.
Mama Ann’s speech quickly became the talk of social media. We wouldn’t expect anything less.