my story

It didn’t take long for me to realize that baking was my creative outlet, and I gathered so much joy from seeing people enjoy eating the foods I had created. As time went on we had three small children and my passion for baking got put aside. As our children grew a bit older I found the time to revisit my passion for baking and decided to turn it from a hobby into a business. I started taking classes to hone in my skills and then I took an artisan bread baking class. It changed my life forever. I was passionate about baking but baking bread was an out of this world experience for me. I knew it was something I wanted to share with the world!
As a business besides sharing my baked goods, I knew that I was passionate about weaving myself into the fibers of this community and making a difference here. We have an incredible community where people truly care about one another, where we are willing to sacrifice for and accept each other even in our differences. I think we all have an inherent desire to leave this world a better place than we found it.
This is just the beginning, I hope you’ll join me on this journey! 

Hi! I'm Bethany. I was lucky enough to grow up in the community of Franklin, nestled among the mountains down a windy back road. I was not one of those children who finds their passion at a young age and knows how they will spend their days fulfilling their purpose. In fact, my mother (a pretty decent baker herself) recalls many different occasions where I swore up and down that I would only marry a man if he could cook for me because I hated being in the kitchen that much.
I met the man of my dreams at the age of 19. He was a local, though we had never met, as he was 5 years older than I was. We, being young and naive, did not appreciate this community and were actively pursuing another town to call home. We eventually got married and 1 year later he opened up a retail outdoor company in our community, Outdoor 76. We were here for good. As time went on we began to fall in love with the place we grew up, and knew we wanted to make a difference in this incredible community we were so fortunate to call home.
My path towards being a baker really began when we first got married. If we wanted to eat, cooking and subsequently baking were something I was just going to have to figure out. 

our Namesake

We get asked often “Where does the name Bent Willow come from?” One definition of the word willow is “someone who will be etched into your heart mind and soul forever.” We wanted to embody this as a business. We added ‘bent’ to the name because we feel it helps celebrate our diversity. Just like a bend in the branch of a tree we want to highlight all the ways we are more diverse than alike. 

bent willow

The McCollum House
a history in the making

Bent Willow was started in January of 2019 offering only artisan breads. Through the humbling support of a loving community it has grown into an 8 person team now offering artisan breads, a wide range of authentic, made-from-scratch baked goods, and a selection of coffee and teas. 

Bent Willow is located in a old historic family home that was built in 1922 by local couple Bruce + Sue McCollum.

read the full story here

The McCollum House is on register of deeds as being built in 1922. It was originally surrounded by cornfields and spacious land, quite a bit different than today's landscape of downtown franklin.

Our hope is that you will create your own memories within these walls. share a bit of laughter, a smile, good conversation and a cup of coffee
as we Come to the table, together.

Bruce and Sue had 6 children: Lucille, Ruth, Tom, Phil, John, and Jim.

 Jean McCollum was the daughter of Phil McCollum. Jean would later go on to marry Jerry Sutton, they held their wedding reception in the exact spot that Bruce and Sue had celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary, here at the McCollum House. The house was sold out of the family in 1980 as the current family member who owned it was ill, but was brought back in to the family in 2000 by Mike and Renee McCall (daughter of Jean McCollum). The first big family event that was held here was the wedding reception of Mike and Renee's oldest daughter, Heather. 9 years later Cory(son of Mike and Renee) and Bethany McCall (Owner of Bent Willow) would continue on with the tradition as They held their wedding reception here in October of 2009.

The house was built by Bruce and Sue McCollum, more affectionately known as Papa and Granny. Bruce worked for W.M. Ritter Lumber Company and for the first 20 years of their marriage they moved frequently to towns where lumber camps were located. When they moved to Rainbow Springs in 1919 they decided to settle permanently in Franklin. The lumber camp in Rainbow Springs is where all the lumber for the house came from, carried down the mountain on the train and by horse and buggy.

The McCollum/McCall families have always been known for their hospitality. And the foundation that Sue built this house on, being filled with people, food, and flowers, is a tradition and passion that has been passed on through the generations. The McCollum house has truly been a hub for community and so it is our honor to continue this tradition by baking goods that bring together family and friends.

Fun          Facts

01

The oldest ancient grain, Einkorn, waned into relative nonexistence until 1991 when a pair of hikers discovered the mummified body of a 5,000 year old iceman in the Italian alps. In his stomach were the remains of his last meal. You guessed it. Einkorn!

Fun           Facts

02

Bethany worked construction for 4 years starting at the age of 17. Yep. Power-tools, hauling wood, mixing cement, tool belt and all. 

03

Walt Disney shot a movie in our community of Macon County in 1956. The film was called The Great Locomotive Chase and it brought in $1.7 million to the box office.

Fun          Facts

Fun          Facts

04

Coffee is consumed in such great quantities, it is the world’s 2nd largest traded commodity, surpassed only by crude oil. It is our most beloved beverage after water. It’s worth well over $100 billion worldwide.

Fun          Facts

05

Each American consumes, on average, 53 pounds of bread each year.

Fun           Facts

06

Bethany's first loves: a really sappy love movie, consuming all the chocolate and coffee she can get her hands on and totally nerding out on documentaries.

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07

 A massive Dutch famine during WWII helped discover celiac disease. Sick children recovered when wheat was scarce, but fell ill again once they resumed eating gluten.

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08

In ancient Arab culture, apparently still applicable in Saudi Arabia, woman can allegedly find legal ‘grounds’ (get it?) for divorce if her husband fails to bring her fresh coffee in the morning.