058 – Cass Cannon, Peg’s Salt
Salt Work. Welcome to an episode that’s a “Must Listen!” if you have an artisanal food product or you have any interest in starting a business. Meet Cass Cannon, owner of Peg’s Salt, a delicious seasoning salt with a great story attached. Cass didn’t set out to become a salt purveyor, but her journey has brought her here. And she’s done her homework. Companies like hers are why I started Edacious in the first place.
One of her most important tips is to tell your story right up front both on your website’s homepage and as part of every sale. Who is Peg? She’s Cass’s mother who created her special salt, a secret blend of kosher flake and over 25 herbs and spices, back in the 1960’s. Cass grew up outside Dayton, Ohio and her mother Peg was a terrific cook. A cook who found Jane’s Crazy Mixed-Up Salt lacking. So she created her own, giving it away to friends and family as gifts. Over time, folks began requesting her special salt blend when they ran out. Luckily, Cass got her mother to write down the recipe. And like Peg, she began making and giving away her special salt. Except this time when folks asked for more Cass decided to take her mom’s legacy a bit further. Peg’s Salt was born and its special blend has a balance of flavor that’s extraordinary. Her own variation, Peg’s Pink Salt, is a blend of Himalayan pink salt and the same spice blend. Pink salt brings a softer flavor to dishes, not as sharp and biting as you might get in a white salt. Like that famous hot sauce commercial says I put it on everything! No worries if you’re watching your sodium intake because a little goes a long way.
I first met Cass during the Tom Tom Founder’s Festival, then again at the Business of Food Conference last summer. Where I discovered she’s a marketing genius. Her background is in educational public relations both in New York state and here in Albemarle county. Many of the skills she learned in those jobs translate well into selling salt. How did she develop her logo? How does it fit into the story of her business? What are her tips for getting your product into Whole Foods, the so-called “holy grail” for food purveyors? Sadly, it’s becoming more difficult with the changing food market, but not impossible. Pro tip: if you don’t see your favorite artisanal product there, say something! Be an advocate for your favorite local purveyors!
Cass has been in business four years and is spreading her wings, hiring an intern to do some of the more tedious work. Because having your own business isn’t all glamorous tasting events and fancy food shows. There are jars to pack, labels to print, books to balance. An important part of having a food business is demo-ing the product to folks who haven’t tried it. With most products this is a no-brainer. But how do you demo salt? We talk about that as well as creative ways to get your product into the hands of folks who haven’t tried it. One way is by handing out “Pinch Packs” small pill-box-sized samples. I carry mine in my purse. This kind of creative out of the box thinking will ensure Peg’s Salt is around for many years to come.
Cass is not immune to the lure of our current burgeoning wedding market here in Charlottesville. She’s done three weddings so far, passing out Peg’s Salt as favors. Salt and weddings are not as odd a pairing as you think. We talk about the Salt Covenant part of some wedding vows and salt’s long history in relation to love and commitment. The history of salt as a commodity and the origins of many salt-related phrases. Salt water as a curative. The importance of minerals.
Cass ships her salt all over the world and folks often order more than one jar to give as gifts. I popped one into Vivian Howard’s gift bag when I talked to her back in October. It really does make the perfect gift. A culinary stocking stuffer.
You can find Peg’s Salt at many area retailers including The Spice Diva, Whole Foods, Greenwood Grocery, Carter’s Mountain, Libbie Market, Ellwood Thompson, Reid’s Market, Integral Yoga, and many many others. I hope you’ll enjoy this episode as much as I did. Happy Holidays everyone!
SHOW NOTES – Links to resources talked about during the podcast:
- Salt – Mark Kurlansky delves into the history of all things salt.
- J. Q. Dickinson Salt Works – artisanal salt farmed in West Virginia for seven generations.
- Small Food Business – a website resource for everyone interested in starting their own culinary endeavor.
- Michael Gredio – Offers up tips and tricks for anyone in the business of food.
- Museu Frederic Marès – An 19th century Spanish sculptor who collected literally, everything
This episode is sponsored by MarieBette Café and Bakery.
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