As I sat down to start typing this up today, an email came in with the following subject (in all caps):
"WHERE IS THE DAMN NEWSLETTER"
AHH.. omg. this cracked me up. especially to think of using the word 'fuck' as a comma. So awesome. No pressure, though, Britni. (HA!)
I am just going to jump right back into our little salty story here. I have spent the last hour or so looking through 'vintage' Salt Co. photos and it has really taken me back. The photos are only 4ish years ago for the portion of the story that I will be writing about today, but man, it feels like a lifetime ago. It is really hard to remember what our life was like before we started this business. It was not like simply starting a new job... We have bled, sweat, lived, and breathed this business since we started it.
And I am so very glad we did.
This particular email, like the era that it is about, is a little more sweet than it is salty. Because y'all are going to have to accept the sides of me that are not just swear words and hilariousness with glittery f-bomb memes (or just skip these nostalgic emails if you can't stomach them). There are other parts of my history, like this one, that have helped shape me into the salty-ass-bitch that I am today :) so hang in there.
I found this photo today that was taken in September of 2016
As Casey mentioned in Part 2, we started experimenting with salt making in our kitchen. It was a fun little hobby, and, knowing us, I am pretty sure it was a business idea right away, but first we tested the salt out on our friends and family. We jarred it up and I got right to work on making adorable labels for our little jars of salt. Hello Pinterest and craft supplies.
Look at me. So on top of it, making Christmas presents on December 19th.
We ordered the jars from Amazon and I made the labels with my Silhouette craft cutting machine (which would later take some serious abuse from this business). The jars of salt were well received. I remember I shipped a bunch of these to my family in the lower 48 and the week before Christmas I went to town on making other products with our salt for Casey's family who lives in-state.
Here it is. Our first product line. We made these into cute little gift baskets and people at least acted liked they really loved them.
Case and I didn't have much money at the time, mainly because we had a hobby farm that was quite expensive to own and operate as well as incredibly time-consuming to take care of. We both worked full-time and I had 3 horses, a milk cow and a fuuuuckity fuck load of chickens. We sold the eggs and milk, which probably didn't even cover the hay costs for my horses. This* was all Casey's passion project, obviously. He was the one who wanted to have the dream farm with horses and cows and sweet little darlings running around. I just supported him the best I could.
At the time, I would wake up before work, milk my cow, process the milk, nurse my own baby, then go to my social work job (with my daughter in tow), come back home, and do it all over again. I remember pumping, nursing, milking my cow, and bottle feeding her calf all in a day... so. much. milk.
Then somehow after all of this, I found the energy to make salt recipes? Looking back, I think I am getting soft you guys.
*[insert: I can't say that with a straight face, emoji]
That's me, milking my cow, Feta, with Hadley on my back at 5 months old. I was 22 years old.
I absolutely loved our little farm lifestyle, but it was simply not sustainable. We worked so fucking hard and could barely make ends meet. (wait, isn't this the Lifetime movie definition of farm?) I hope to try this out again in my retirement age when money isn't an issue and a full-time job isn't required to financially support my hobby, which is, in itself, a full-time work load. We decided to "sell the farm" and use the money to invest in income-generating real estate (definitely the best decision we have ever made).
The salt dream was on the back burner for a bit as we sold and bought a new house. I remember that Salt Co. was on our minds as we looked at properties, but our main goal was to purchase a duplex, or multi-family home of some sort that would create some sideways income for us. We bought a sweet little duplex that would later become the first Salt Co. factory.
We moved in the upstairs unit and our good pal, Sean, rented the apartment below. In the spring of 2017, my friend Amanda told me she was signed up for a vendor event to sell some shelves she was building and explained that she didn't need an entire booth to herself.
"You should do it with me and sell your salt."
Since the move, we hadn't even been thinking about the salt business idea. It was a little daunting to think about selling it. You can't just sell a food product without permits and licenses and like, a logo or a plan... My initial thought was, "No way" but when I brought the idea up to Casey, he was really interested. Having a degree in business finance, he is less daunted by the logistical elements of all the stuff and things that I would rather not even think about.
We agreed to do the event. Which, for any of you that know me at all, is a big deal. I am really an all or nothing person. So to me, when we decided we were going to sell salt at a little vendor event I knew then that "the little salt business idea" was going to be a big deal. Of course, no one really took us that seriously. While our friends and family were supportive (like, "oh yeah that's a super neat and cute idea"), we knew we were on to something cool.
I remember in these early days discussing it with Casey, who, like me, has always been an entrepreneur. As soon as Salt became a business idea, he saw right away the potential for a global salt empire. He was so excited and believed then, when we were filtering sea water on our kitchen counter with a Brita drinking water filter, that this could be huge. I loved the business idea too, but at first only thought of it as a small, local retail shop that sold salt to seasonal tourists - still awesome, but it took me a minute to see the big picture that Casey was seeing.
I was "between jobs" (a boring story about the transition from doing social work to being offered a job working for Salmon Sisters). So as a stay-at-home mom, I worked away at making products for the event. Casey was an electrician at the time, and would come home from work and tend to the salt, which I would mix into scrubs and put into jars. I printed the labels on paper, cut them out by hand, and I'm not shitting you, glued each and every one of them onto the jars.
Recognize this stuff?
Apparently, I didn't even glue them on straight? Jesus, 'back-then-britni"... [insert current britni SMH emoji] Anyway... we made a whole bunch of this stuff. I don't remember how long it took us, or how we decided what to charge for these items. I just remember that it was fun and Casey and I loved doing it together. The vendor event seemed like such a big deal, and we had no idea what to expect. Would people buy our stuff? Would they think our idea was stupid? We probably paid $100 or so to have a booth and had invested a few hundred dollars into packaging and materials. oh, and of course $50 for our Alaska State Business License.. We were legit.. like enough to have a booth at a small event..
I drew up a logo and painted it onto an old spool top. I had a weird old shelf that we picked up at a yard sale to use for a 'display' and we set up shop to attempt making our very first salt sale.
The event was on a Saturday, but on the Friday night before there was a Vendor VIP Night. For two hours after set up, vendors and a few of their guests could do some pre-shopping before the event was open to the public the next day.
We saw that night as an opportunity to have a practice run and make sure we were all set up to do some solid business the next day..
We sold almost completely out of everything we had made and did over $1,000.00 in sales that night. In just two hours.
Our "First Dollar" from that night.
We were just absolutely tickled. We picked up some champagne on the way home. We did a toast, and knew our life would never be the same from then on. And we were right.
We got busy cutting, and gluing, and making whatever we could with the salt that we had left so we could show up with something to sell the next day.
We were so god damn high. on. life. We could have made a thousand bucks or ten thousand bucks that night... To us it felt the same because we did it.. we had the idea, the one we knew would make us millions, and we had just gotten the proof & the confidence we needed that it would happen.
We couldn't stop smiling. and, SALT! Gah. We loved that we had started a business selling salt. Something so simple, yet highly taken for granted. We were determined to make salt great again (and, for obvious reasons, we never pursued that marketing campaign).
And MAN, a lot of shit has gone down since then. Which, I will continue from here, next time :)
Cheers friends. Cheers to salt.
All my love,
PS.. keep scrolling' to see some vintage Salt Co. photos I found today.
We have worked so hard, for so many years, damnnit. You deserve a 15% off discount code:
Casey and Sean "cleaning" salt the day before that vendor event on our dining room table. We still do this actually (in a DEC approved facility, not on our dinner table), but our filtering systems have been improved a lot since then. :)
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A shot of all the products we had made before the event that seemed like SO much stuff at the time.
Spring 2017. Experimenting with salt recipes with my little helper (who is not so little anymore - WAH!!!). Just realized I am wearing that exact same hoodie right now, ha. Night night y'all. 'Till next time.