Welcome to my studio!
I am an artist, a chef, a wife, a Mom, a proud Nanna and also part owner of the Salad Girl Organic Salad Dressing Company.
The motivation for starting an organic salad dressing company was 1 part dream fulfillment/1 part necessity.
About eight years ago, My sweet and semi patient husband Jimmy and I began to lose our livelyhood in the paint and decorating industry. We have both worked long and hard at our family painting business. I specialized in decorative painting: murals, hand printed walls, nurseries and childrens rooms. My husbands expertise is interior and exterior house painting. Jim and I both spent our days climbing on ladders and scaffolding for about 30 years. In 2006 our industry began to quell with the housing market and thus began a major shift in the economy, so it was time to figure something else out. Early retirement wasn’t an option.
At aprox. 50 years old we were both forced into reinventing our means of support. It was kind of a gift in disguise because Jim and I needed a safer, less physical livelihood for ourselves sooner then later, but we kept putting it off because we were always making hay while the sun was shining.
Luckily we were able to dig into our past life experience in the food industry. As youngsters, Jim and I aquired a lot of experinece working in restaurant kitchens. From washing dishes to salad prep, food prep, bartending, catering etc. We put ourselves through college and art school using these handy skills. We even ran a natural foods catering company on weekends for extra money as a young married couple. My art career in becoming a childrens book illustrator was slow in starting, and as a young married couple, with a little boy and a new house, I still needed to help pay the bills, so I took a job as a private chef for a household in White Bear Lake Mn.
My favorite part of working in the kitchen was creating the salads and the dressings to match for each menu. My dressings were always a hit at meals and parties, and I began to get requests from my employer to bottle some of my dressings as Christmas gifts for their friends and family. I have to admit, it was always kind of a pipe dream to think that someday I could possibly bring them to market, make a whole lot of money to build a house with a beautiful art studio where I could paint and create beautiful pieces of are in.
Time went on, my son got into school, I was able to move from a kitchen job into a life as a mural artist. I love making art and I was able to use my skills as an artist doing decorative paintin. I learned to replicate out of print vintage wall coverings, how to paint and distress furniture and to craft and create beautiful childrens rooms. One of my favorite clients were the Kowalski family, owners of the Kowalski family markets, so when our painting business started to falter I turned to Mrs. Kowalski and requested a meeting to present my salad dressings to. Teri Bennis, Kowalski’s director of new products loved them and told me that if I was able to figure out how to bring my dressings to market, that she would arrange a spot on the shelf for me.
With lots of luck, and loads of help from family & friends, we went to farmers market in 2007 to see if we could do it, and in 2008 we started The Salad Girl Organic Salad Dressing Company. Luckily, we have grown from being on the refrigerated shelves of 8 local grocery stores to being on the shelves of 200 stores. Our goal is to be on everyones salads across the United States someday!
In our small nanna and poppie owned company we all wear alot of hats and aprons. My favorite apron is being in charge of the art dept.& the creative kitchen dept. working in both recipe R&D and helping our marketing gal. .
.The best part of my job is in the cooking & crafting up opportunities to show my customers how to plan, prepare, and serve beautiful salads!
One of these opportunities that just dropped into my aproned lap one day was being hired to write a little Salad Hand Book called “Salad Days”.
“Salad Days”was one of those wonderful opportunities and gifts that we didn’t plan or count on. Illustrating this sweet little book offered me the ability to fulfill another dream by becoming a published book illustrator and allowing me to spend some precious time in my studio painting and illustrating again.
Its funny how thiings happen, and how gifts are available if arms, mind, spirit and hearts are open. Just waiting with wonder what each day will offer… Pam