6/13/12

Wild Wednesday

POSTED BY: ERIKA


Happy evening to you all!


It’s the middle of week yet again and you know what that means!  Time for another chance to share someone who has made a difference in our little corner of the world!


Similarly to last weeks Wild Wednesday, this person has been one of our biggest supporters since day one, and she is a fellow entrepreneur in the food world!  Woohoo!  Like Kath from KERF, she manages a Great Harvest Bakery in Minneapolis, where she not only sells delicious baked breads and pastries…but also our nut butters!!


Christy contacted us last fall when we first started selling our product in stores.  She had read about us on KERF and wanted to carry our nut butters in the bakery.  We were thrilled that we were finally going to be sold somewhere outside of Oregon.  So Christy and Karl, the owner of the bakery, wear the proud title of the first store outside of Oregon/Washington to carry Wild Squirrel! 



Christy posing with some of our jars!  What an cute display she made!  She even has our Oprah article displayed :-)


Even though Christy is hundreds of miles of way, she has managed to give us incredible support and has been a dedicated “brand ambassador” in the midwest!  I was so excited to spend some time getting to know more about Christy this week after many months of “business talk!”


1)  To start off, tell us who you are and what you do in Minnesota!


My name is Christy Marek and I work as the General Manager at Great Harvest Bread Co in Burnsville MN. I am also a writer — I have two children’s books that I wrote for my nephew and one of my nieces (http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/vermoester) …with a third book in the works for my other niece who turns four this fall. And I have a blog that I began in 2009 called Wonder of All Things (www.wonderofallthings.com) where I write about my journey seeking to live an authentic, fun, well-lived life full of wonder. I also write poetry, creative non-fiction and fiction. 


2) What is the best thing about your bakery?  The hardest?


The best thing about the bakery is the teamwork — when we are all working seamlessly together toward a common goal, whether it be the holiday rush or a crazy day making enough bread and sweets for the bulk of the markets and still enough for the store…it’s a truly beautiful thing. Art in motion. It’s a gift to be able to work with the people I do.


The hardest thing about the bakery used to be the really early baking hours (for about five years I got up everyday to hit the ground running at 4am), which I gratefully don’t have to do any more in my current role. I’m still a morning person, but not quite that early a morning person! The hardest thing has to be the incredible amount of detail it takes to sell at as many Farmer’s Markets and keeping all of it straight and functional. It’s a challenge I love, but this time of year, when everything is starting out for the season, it can get a little overwhelming. But once things are up and running, it flows and it’s a joy to flow with it. 

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3)  Who or what in your life do you find most inspiring?



I am most inspired by small business owners, which is one of the reasons I love Wild Squirrel so much. :) Not only do I work for a small independently owned bakery, my husband and I are partners in a local wine distributorship that my husband helped create from the ground up. I see small businesses as dreams in action and I am inspired by people who find their way, make their way, and spread excitement by example, just like you guys. It’s another example of teamwork at its finest, because I don’t think any small business owner does it alone. It takes a village. And it’s incredibly gratifying to be able to be a part of the village.



4)  When you aren’t working at the bakery, how do you spend your free time? 

I’m an avid hiker and I love the outdoors — I spend as much time as possible out walking with my husband and our dog, Trooper. I adore gardening — we bought a new house almost three years ago and have space (finally!) for flower and veggie gardens, which I treat a bit as a work in progress, learning as I go. We put in a rain garden last summer as a conservation project to catch and filter the runoff from the roof of our house — talk about a learning experience! I’m a self-taught “just-about-everything”, love trying new things and feel that learning through experience (again, like you guys!) is the most fulfilling and effective way to learn.

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I do yoga and meditate almost every day and especially enjoy practicing outdoors. I love animals, especially the critters that come to the feeders in our yard. I love music, reading, and of course, writing!

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5) Not only are we both entrepreneurs, but we are also foodies at heart :)  Tell me about your favorite foods, meals etc!



I am a foodie at heart — part of my zest for trying new things. My husband and I both love to cook and enjoy finding new recipes and preparing the standbys for our friends and family. My personal favorite thing to make is homemade pizza; in fact, my husband and I made pizza together on our very first date. I love that the possibilities are truly endless. I’ve been working to perfect a crust that can be easily made and kept on hand for those quick and easy meals. Pizza on the grill with homemade pesto, sautéed mushrooms, shallots, asparagus and fresh mozzarella is one of my all-time favorites. I’m hungry just writing about it!

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6)  List five ingredients that are always in your pantry.


 Tortillas, San Marzano tomatoes, black beans, basmati rice, salsa. As much as I love homemade pizza, my other go-to meal is quesadillas. Again, the possibilities are endless. Quick, easy, nutritious and most of all, delicious!



7)  Do you like to travel?  What’s the best trip you’ve ever taken?


Traveling is the best, though lately, we’ve been learning the advantages of the Staycation — it’s important to get to know and love exactly where you are as much as it is to head off into the unknown to explore. When I was a junior in high school, I won a scholarship to spend the summer as an exchange student in Finland. At 17, it opened my eyes to the world and I learned firsthand the value of not just being a tourist, but actually knowing the people who live in a place. It’s the best way to get to know a country or a city or a neighborhood. The sights are great…but it’s all about the people.



8) What is your favorite flavor of Wild Squirrel and favorite way to eat it?


I adore the Chocolate Sunflower Almond Butter — on toast, in my morning oats, on a spoon! It’s the best! And HOW do you keep those seeds so crunchy??!?


Christy thanks so much for rooting for us throughout our crazy peanut butter adventures!  It is people like you who remind us that we are making some difference in the world, no matter how small it is :-)



And that concludes another Wild Wednesday!  



Until next time,

Erika 


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