I read Britni's last email and after wiping my tears (because I was cutting an onion while I was reading it), I thought it might be a good time to chime in with some of my own memories. It is hard to decide where to begin this story. I think Britni is correct in that it all started with our own partnership, and ever since our first date she has been the salt to my pepper.
Around the time we got married (August of 2014) Alaska Salt Co. was nothing but a glimmer on the sea still waiting to be discovered. I've had a romance with the sea for as long as I can remember, and for a large part of my early adulthood thought of myself as a fisherman. The summer that I met Britni was actually a pivotal time for me, in that it was my first season running a boat as a captain. Besides finding my dream girl, that was everything I had ever wanted. Everything was going as I had hoped and Britni even ended up fishing with me! Talk about a dream come true.
Britni and I commercial fished for salmon together for three seasons in Cook Inlet. These three seasons were definitely the best part of my 12 year fishing career. I've fished with many people over the years, but Britni, hands down, wins the "keeping things interesting" award. We had a lot of fun. But if you ever want a relationship test, try living and working on a small boat for 3 months together. It wasn't always sunshine and rainbows* but this time together is where our confidence as a team truly developed. She even continued to fish with me when she was pregnant, into her third trimester! What a bad ass. She slept a lot, which is pretty normal, but she showed up when it counted.
*Britni has alluded to the time I yelled at her, and I'm going to leave that story for her to tell. As you can tell, I'm not the comedian, and it will probably be more entertaining if she tells it.
It was the summer of 2015 that the idea for trying to harvest the salt out of the water was formed. I remember it clearly. It was a beautiful day, no rain, but a little choppy. The windows in the front were getting splashed on occasion. I had to clean a white residue off of them at the end of the day and I remember thinking "Is that salt?" It was remarkable to me that the few splashes the window received that day still produced that much residue. That's it. That's when I decided to investigate collecting sea salt, and find out how much salt is actually in our sea water. It didn't start out as a business idea. I was merely curious. I love the idea of self-sufficiency and reliance, so I'm naturally attracted to providing our own food and supplies however possible.
Homer Harbor, 2012
The first experiments of making salt were simple. I brought home a 5 gallon bucket of sea water, ran it through a Brita filter, and boiled it down in our kitchen. Lesson number one: If you boil it down all the way with high heat, you essentially make a salt rock in the bottom of your pan that is neither easy to remove or use. Lesson two: Don't use pans you want to keep. We quickly learned that lowering the heat near the end, and finishing in a glass baking dish in the oven worked a lot better and made some very pretty, tasty, salt. Lesson number three: You don't want to be boiling salt water in your kitchen all the time (way too much humidity, if you must know why). I moved my experimenting to the garage with a propane turkey fryer set up and started to refine my process and pile up some salt. I don't know how many stock pots I burned though, but it was a lot.
That fall we were still in hobby mode. Our daughter was born that November, and for Christmas that year all our family got some homemade salt! I'm sure Britni has a lot to say about those first Christmas presents, the packaging, the labels, etc, etc, but those details aren't what stuck with me. In reality, the salt was a cool gift we could give and not spend a ton of money on. And it was a hit. That's when the business plans started to develop in our heads.
Stay tuned. Still to come, our first sale, our first summer season, quitting our jobs, our first celebrity encounter, and more twists and turns than I would have ever guessed.
Until next time, Casey (though heavily edited and influenced by Britni)
I'm a simple man, so you're getting a simple10% off discount code: