My guest today is Mary Dean Taylor, proprietor of Salt & Olive in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
JB: Welcome to OpEdNews, Mary. Tell our readers a bit about your shop, please.
MDT: It's funny -- what just occurred to me is that Salt & Olive is a bit of a mid-life crisis and a great one at that. After 27 years on the corporate side of the world, specifically the management and design of athletic and casual footwear, I wanted to pursue my passion. And for me, that's cooking, eating, food. When folks ask why I took such a departure from a career I had spent so much time pursuing, I can honestly say it's more of an arrival.
Salt & Olive was created for folks who love and care about food, as a place to come for inspiration, ideas and like minds. The shop was created with four major goals in mind: fresh, local, organic, and sustainable. We look for the freshest products we can find, believe firmly in supporting local artisans, buy organic where possible -- and finally, the store was built with sustainability in mind (locally sourced materials, our best sellers sit on my old desk, LEED* certified craftsmen, etc).
JB: What are "LEED verified craftsmen" and why was this important to you?
MDT: LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is certification program that recognizes green building practices. It's important to us personally and professionally. We live and sell in an environment where our customers pay close attention to our environmental footprint; I honestly believe that doing good is also doing good business. The associate partners that work at Salt & Olive are happier knowing that they work someplace that is as green as we can be. And as citizens of the world no one should ignore global warming; we all need to do our part.
JB: I totally agree. Please continue.
MDT: Most importantly, we want to create a comfortable place for folks to spend time and be inspired. The store design is inspired by the open air markets in the Mediterranean. Customers can taste the extra virgin olive oils and balsamics to see what they like before they buy; our salts, spices and teas are all in glass jars that not only bring a visual interest to our shop, but give folks a chance to open and smell the aromas. It always smells so wonderful here!
JB: Yes, it does! How did you come up with a location for Salt & Olive? What were you looking for?
MDT: Cambridge was an absolute priority. Not only have we lived here for years, but the city is diverse, welcoming and supports local businesses. It was very important to me to have Salt & Olive be part of a community, to be more than just a transactional business. I want us to be part of the fabric of Cambridge.
JB: Besides for the Cambridge address, what else were you looking for in terms of location and floor plan?
MDT: Proximity to Harvard Square, which is the quintessential heart of Cambridge, was at the core of our plans. The seasons are wonderful in the square, and we get to visit with the Harvard and MIT communities, folks who live near the Salt & Olive store, international visitors, all communities that we can build a friendship and partnership with. In addition, the Harvard Square Business Association has been an amazing supporter and ally. In terms of the brick and mortar, we wanted a space that was open, airy and light, that we could mold to our vision. And, we've got a fabulous landlord who cares about our success.
JB: Lucky you. And, yes, your location is terrific. How exactly did you mold the space to your vision: How does vision translate in terms of floors, walls, shelves and merchandise?