Bangari Interview: Woodworker and Chef Felisha Wild

logo wordpress 2013-08-07_0858I see that you are a master at mixing. Not just ingredients, but talents. It seems like you are able to take teaching ability, business knowledge, culinary and woodworking skills and like butter, flour, sugar and chocolate –homogenize them into a scrumptious batch of successful-chip cookies.

Felisha Wild, you are a true Jill-of-all-trades!

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Thank you Kevin! It’s gratifying to have people recognize the kind of efforts it takes. I do my best. 🙂

logo wordpress 2013-08-07_0858With this email interview, I want to attempt to do the same thing. As a writer and Web property developer, a businessman -who has made and lost a fortune, and desires to make another- woodworker and foodie, I want to hitch my cart to your horse! I see that you are ready to expand.

Maybe a Jack-of-all-trades, like me, might be perfect fit for ODS?

So consider this a two-way interview. I want to find out what you are planning for the future. I want to hear and help articulate your plans for Our Daily Salt going forward, and see how I might fit in. I won’t ask a lot about the past, because as I see, there have been quite a few excellent online interviews already done, such as:

By Sarah Klinkowitz, on:

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 By Maureen Shaw at: 

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By Blanca Valbuena at:

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logo daily salt 2013-08-07_0857Let me start by saying that I’m not quite sure where Our Daily Salt is as I push every day. I waffle between making everything ourselves and utilizing talent of other artists to create for us. I find that it’s difficult to find people that have the correct mix of talent, creativity, drive, and business acumen.

 I’m always pleasantly surprised when I find people like that!

Our Daily Salt started out as a way to voice what I thought on culinary issues, recipes, etc… I also wanted to be able to monetize the site at some point without all of the advertisements that typical blogs go to. A few years ago, after taking on a kitchen remodel in our new house, I found out that I was pretty good at making things other than food. That was the start of our business in many ways. It’s taken time to learn, get better, faster, etc… I’m like a sponge and continue to stretch and learn all of the time.

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Click photo to purchase this handmade Honeypot on OurDailySalt.com

Eventually I want to take ODS to be a place where people can find amazing durable goods that enhance their daily lives. Whether I make those pieces or not, they can be assured that they will be a quality products, priced well, and guaranteed by me.

Little by little I want to build the brand. It’s one of the reasons that I resist sites like Etsy.com because I don’t want to build their brand. I’ve helped to build other people’s brands of products -now it is time to build mine.

logo wordpress 2013-08-07_0858If we don’t end up deciding to go -up the hill to fetch a hand-turned wooden bucket of water- to make a spicy butternut squash soup together, we will definitely get some valuable promotion of our web sites. Sound good?

You are very active on Facebook. How many hours a week do you suppose you devote to social networking and other online activities, e.g.; writing and posting content to Our Daily Salt, and linking to other sites?

logo daily salt 2013-08-07_0857I feel that I spend way too much time on social media to be healthy. It has payed off in the exposure and meeting the wonderful people that I interact with on a daily basis but too much time. Our Daily Salt, as far as the blog content goes, has been stagnant for quite some time.

With the promotion of the business, sales, making items, and trying to have a life in there as well it’s difficult to do it all. All of the pictures, promotional material, product designs, etc… flow through me and most are created by me.

In the back of my head I’m working to build up the production capacity of our business. Most of the time we are running way behind but with only myself and my partner, at times, it is a lot to take on.

Once I’m more comfortable with producing products in quantities and with a quality that I’m satisfied with then…

The push for growing -Our Daily Salt- begins in earnest!

logo wordpress 2013-08-07_0858Do you consider yourself a person who can delegate well, or are you a control freak / micro manager? Your answer here will also show how self critical you can be! LOL.

logo daily salt 2013-08-07_0857I’m hugely self critical and it sometimes spills off into other people. It’s difficult to live up to a stark raving lunatic. LOL

That being said I do delegate and I love when I feel comfortable with someone to do that. I’m also a person that is never really happy or satisfied with how things are. We are changing and challenging our operations, designs, and how we do things on an almost daily basis. I’m happy to say that our diligence is starting to pay off.

BTW when I put a post up that has spelling or grammatical errors in it I always cringe when I see that later on!

logo wordpress 2013-08-07_0858You teach. Is this a paying gig -like many of us home business enterprises are familiar with- that pays the bills while you get the business off the ground? Are there other sources of revenue coming in that allow you invest time, talent and treasure into your business?

Do you have investors? Are sales alone covering start-up expenses? I know these are a lot of questions at once…But I’m trying to get a feel for your needs in financing this enterprise. I’ve worked in banking, and have helped start WBEs (Women Business Enterprises). What would it take to get your business out of your garage and into a larger scale manufacturing facility and some retail locations?

logo daily salt 2013-08-07_0857I have taught and it was always a mixture of paying gigs and free promotions. My students always loved my classes.  My love for teaching and passing on knowledge, I feel, is important. I’ve taught corporate gigs, small groups, and even events. I loath catering, and love restaurant work.

I’m fortunate that my partner makes a very good living that has enabled us to build this business. The buildup has been slow but steady.  However, we are doing it on essentially one income. I work the business full-time, as well as take care of the house, care for a puppy and two kitties, and I am constantly running. The teaching has tapered off as I can only do so much.

As far as building the business and getting it out of the house we have looked at several options. One option that we are moving forward with is Kickstarter. I like the idea of having people help build the business with us as well as being in the position to give back to the people that helped us grow.

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Click above to learn all about how kickstarter.com works. It’s cool!

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Buy an Echo Chainsaw at Amazon.com

We do not have investors currently but that is not off of the table.  Also, I’ve given some limited thought to sponsorship.  For instance: We use Echo chainsaws for cutting chunks that we use for bowls.  I haven’t pursued that however.

What I see in our future is opening a retail-gallery space with large windows looking into the creating space. People will be able to watch as products are being made on the lathe, etc…  Also cameras that can be streamed as well, would be cool.

Sales are certainly not able to keep up with the current costs of funding the startup. However sales are growing and we are fortunate that people have supported us as we continue to grow.

logo wordpress 2013-08-07_0858Do you feel a need to use ‘old fashioned’ equipment to manufacture these things that you design? Is CNC (robot) equipment something you would utilize if it was cost effective? Note: I have a few years experience with this type of equipment.

logo daily salt 2013-08-07_0857I don’t think of anything as old fashioned as far as equipment goes. We have a vested interest in making everything by hand and keeping our products handcrafted.

With that said I’m always looking to see how we can scale things up through automation. For instance our rolling pins and honey dippers are duplicated in our shop and hand finished by my partner or myself. CNC is another area that we like, but it just depends on what CNC we are talking about. CNC laser is something that we could use to label, and consistently brand each of our products. A CNC lathe could help to rough out pepper mill blanks so that the hand finishing could go quicker. A CNC router table or milling machine would not be as useful to our operation unless it was a 3D milling machine.

At some point I have to weigh the pros and cons of handcrafted vs. cool stuff that is designed and manufactured directly by me. It just depends on how we want to push the growth and into what markets.

logo wordpress 2013-08-07_0858Do you sell products through Amazon.com? If you could sell all you could make online and through direct marketing, would you reconsider opening retail locations? Do you have other plans for these locations beyond selling your woodcrafts, e.g.; culinary art classes or food service?

logo daily salt 2013-08-07_0857We don’t sell on Amazon.com or any other location currently. Part of the reason is that we don’t have the capacity to fulfill large orders if they were to come. I do want to open a retail location, but I’m not sure if I want to open multiple locations.

I like the Pampered Chef model of having others directly market and sell a  product and it continues to put the human touch on operations. Even if we have a retail location I still want to do markets and fairs to promote and sell our products.

As far as selling other products aside from wooden durable goods: I feel very strongly that we do want to do that. I’m working with several potters currently to produce product for us, but the lead times are somewhat lengthy.

As far as food service goes, I love food and it has been extremely good to me as far as a career goes. However I’m not sure if I want to steer the business into food production of any sort. Aside from spices and spice blends, our focus currently isn’t on making food ourselves, but instead enabling people to make food for themselves and their loved ones.

logo wordpress 2013-08-07_0858What are your ‘politics’ on employees earning a ‘living wage?’ What do you consider a living wage in Wisconsin?

logo daily salt 2013-08-07_0857In order to grow the business long term the issue of hiring will come up. We believe that people should be paid well for their skills and talents. Having not earned a “living wage” for some time I’m not quite sure what a number would be as it would factor in so many things like location, family size, etc…

However if you’re not making enough to be able to eat well, have some type of financial security, and meet basic needs of the yourself and the family then that is deplorable. My partner and I work very hard to meet our basic needs, and also grow our own food when we can, raise bees, groom the dog ourselves, etc… I realize that not everyone has those skills but it all helps.

logo wordpress 2013-08-07_0858I wanted to know specifically how you turn a piece of green wood into a bowl (which I successfully accomplished once) and then dry it without it checking and cracking (here is where I failed)

I think it would be awesome for mankind in general, and definitely would be the kind of content you need to upgrade your site, if you were to do some instructional videos and post them to your site. Is this something you would be interested in? Do you feel it would be counterproductive to sales if you show everyone how to just do it themselves? I don’t.

logo daily salt 2013-08-07_0857First off I don’t think that making videos and posting them would be counterproductive to sales. I believe that as people know what goes into making our products the sales will only increase. However to do videos well can be a huge undertaking. We would like to add a streaming camera at some point so that people can see as we are turning on the lathe or doing other projects. We are working with a videographer to produce a video for our kickstarter campaign.

To find out how Felisha turns out one of her beautiful wood bowls, click the photo below:

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2 responses to “Bangari Interview: Woodworker and Chef Felisha Wild

  1. Pingback: Felisha Wild Teaches the Art of Bowl Turning | Bangari Content Gallery

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