Multiple Grammys. A must-watch Food Network TV show. To see Trisha Yearwood in action is to see an incredible woman in action. So it’s no surprise to learn that an equally incredible woman inspired her. We’re thrilled to announce a new tabletop collection called “Gwendolyn,” an elegant, everyday dinnerware line based on the wedding cakes Trisha’s mother, Gwendolyn, made when her girls were young.
To watch Trisha and her sister Beth recall their mom’s hard work—and to see the looping, whimsically refined plateware that resulted from their collaboration with Williams Sonoma—is to see two daughters missing their late Mom, who they call their “hero.” Here’s a bit more about Gwendolyn, whose signature—un-retouched, because her handwriting was flawless—marks every cup, saucer and plate in this knockout new line.
“Fearless,” remembers Trisha. If she was still here, “Mom would be the star of her own cooking show.” Gwendolyn took a break from her work as a teacher to stay home with them before the two of them attended grade school, but she kept plenty busy beyond the already-daunting work of raising two kids. She was a seamstress and a wedding cake maker, among many other things.
Beth recalls a wedding for which mom Gwendolyn had made the cake. That wasn’t enough. “I remember her making a dress to wear to that wedding!”
They learned to cook from Mom, and from their grandmother, and the sisters maintain a special cooking relationship. “We have a shorthand in the kitchen,” they laugh. “We’ve been [there] together our whole lives—we sorta know what the other one’s gonna do!”
“Our mom encouraged us to get in there, get in there and make biscuits, get your hands dirty,” elaborates Trisha. “I think that’s why we both cook now for our families, because we were both encouraged to.”
After all, they started young, when Gwendolyn launched a small business to pick up extra money by making cakes for weddings and birthdays. The little girls would marvel at her hand-made heart lattices and sugar bells—“She was the queen!” laughs Trisha.
They remember, too, helping walk the wedding cake, in pieces, to the ceremony. “Beth was older and more responsible,” laughs Trisha. “She’d carry the top,” which wasn’t “fixable,” like the middle pieces of the layer cake, which young Trisha was permitted to carry.
Trisha remembers that her mom—also a crack seamstress—used to pull together her costumes for shows in a flash. “I’d say ‘I want a nice fitted jacket with fringe,’ and she’d make it without a pattern,” the singer recalls.
The two girls thought their Mom threw together gorgeous five-layer wedding cakes without a plan, too, but after Gwendolyn passed, they found magazines with sketches tucked into them. She’d thought through every single cake, flourish, and bell. The third-grade teacher had handwriting that made her thank-you note recipients—she sent many—tuck them away for safekeeping. (That includes Trisha’s husband, Garth Brooks!) That’s why her lovely signature now adorns each piece.
Gwendolyn’s recipes, which she kept in a shoebox, were equally precise. “If using a GE range, it’s two hours at 200 degrees,” the notes might say, laughs Trisha. The girls both continue to make the recipes they learned from Mom and Grandma—like a strawberry shortcake that is beautiful, simple and reminiscent of “a giant biscuit!” laughs Beth.
When the sisters found Gwendolyn’s simple, elegant drawings, they were thrilled to share them with Wayne Maness, the Williams Sonoma Vice President of Product Development. The hand-drawn blueprints were the spark for the Gwendolyn tabletop collection.
“I think she’d love this collection,” says Beth. “She loved a simple, elegant dish. This line reminds me of what she owned.” Trisha adds, “I think she’d be flattered to be in Williams Sonoma—it’s the ultimate, really.”
Trisha remembers that when she married Garth 15 years ago, she asked her mother to make the cake. Gwendolyn at first declined, with an “I don’t do that any more.” Trisha promised it could be simple—something small for friends and family—and Gwendolyn agreed. Then she made a five-tier cake and, Trisha remembers, “it was fabulous. Gwen was a superhero.” Mom even gave Trisha the bride and groom that were on her wedding cake. It meant the world to her daughter.
This collection also means a lot to the girls, who will use it at home every day. “It’s another way to honor her,” says Trisha. “These are the kinds of pieces that can become your family tradition.”