We had the good fortune of connecting with Monique Rodriguez and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Monique, is there something that you feel is most responsible for your success?
The single most important factor behind Old Salt Merchant’s success is our mission to authentically celebrate food and culture from around the globe by sourcing high quality, unique and bold spices, salts, sugars and teas. Our high quality of standards has allowed us to build a very loyal and satisfied customer base.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Old Salt Merchant’s has a passion for food and enduring love of exploring diverse cuisines. We are constantly looking to source flavors that are deeply rooted in cultures from around the world. One area of growth that we are super excited about is our expansion into spice. Last month, we introduced an eclectic line of spices that span the globe. Our products range from Ethiopian Berber ,which is a hot, peppery, and tangy spice which is the backbone of Ethiopian cooking to a Veracruz Taco Blend which is a staple blend used in a variety of Mexican cooking.

We realized quickly that we must always optimize our products by staying on top of the trends but knowing when we need to retire a product. It’s never easy to retire a product because part of your creative energy in making that product feels rejected. We realized early on that we cannot create products based on what we like, we have to create products based on what our customers want. We’ve learned that it’s really important to listen to the customer and seek to implement their ideas even if it means putting our ideas on hold for a bit. An example of a customer idea that has truly been a game changer for us was creating a customizable 4 and 6 pack box that you can mix and. match with mini jars. Initially, the idea seemed incredibly laborious with so many touch points, but it turned out to be wildly successful and a best seller, especially around the holidays.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
The first place I’d go to here in area is to Worthy self care studio. I’d sign us up for a hot sauna and 3 minute guided cold plunge bath so that we’re ready to conquer the week. If it’s early enough after our plunge, we would grab a vegan coffee at Timeless. Then we would head to Snail Bar and have some delicious wine and dinner. I would see what’s playing at the Elbow Room or I’d find a concert at the Greek Theatre. During that week, we would check out a few local wine bar’s like Minimo or Ordiinaire Wine shop and eat the best pizza (gluten free too) at Luchia’s.

Next day, we would grab coffee and breakfast at Bartavelle on our way to Yountville, where we would hang out at the open garden across the street from The French Laundry. I’d pick up a chocolate croissant at Bouchon Bakery before heading to the garden. Then we’d head to Point Reyes and do a hike to the Light House. Once we’re done, we would head to Garden of Eden and pick up some Rosa Belle Cream & some healing Salve.

Back in our area, we would hit Commis for their tasting menu and visit Tale of the Yak and the best Mexican Chocolate shop called Casa de Chocolate. Don’t forget dinner one night at Occitania and a drink at the next door bar.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My shoutout deservedly goes to my very supportive husband who has pushed me every step of the way. Not only has he taken a financial risk in helping me build my dream, but he also shows up regularly to celebrate my wins, push my creative spirit, and encourage me to show up 110% everyday. My husband is a constant soundboard for any business issue that may come up, helping guide me to a successful resolution. I guess you could say he’s by biggest TRUE FAN!

My two children (age 21 and 23) have also been very supportive in helping mom live her dream. They always pitch in by working shows in various cities around the country, packing & labeling products, tasting new products, and creating all kinds of spreadsheets! My kids regularly brainstorm ideas with me that have significantly impacted our portfolio of products and partnerships. Having this guidance from a younger lens has definitely helped shape and diversify our brand identity.

Website: www.oldsaltmerchants.com

Instagram: www.instagram.com/oldsaltmerchants

Twitter: www.twitter.com/dutchtheoldsalt

Facebook: www.facebook.com/oldsaltmerchants

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