Our goals with Eat Love Give are not only to introduce you to new brands, new products, and delicious food, but we also hope that Eat Love Give can be a place of positivity in what is sometimes a dark world. We couldn’t be more thrilled to introduce you to the one and only Rebecca Salmonson, the owner of Becca’s Petites, as our latest Merchant Spotlight. Rebecca is the epitome of Eat Love Give; she introduced us to her nutritional yet delicious bouchées snack mixes, she has a heart of gold, and the proceeds from her tasty snacks go to an education fund for her friend’s son. Read more about her amazing story below.
Tell us a little bit about yourself!
I grew up in the south, but have traveled all over the word, even working overseas in Asia several times a year in my corporate job. I love embracing new cultures and cuisines because I love people and I really love food! I’ve never met a vegetable I didn’t like.
I started out studying Aerospace Engineering in college, so when I use the phrase “it’s not rocket science,” I sorta know what i’m talking about 😉. I couldn’t sit still at a drafting table for hours on end, plus I was in a “man’s world,” despite physics being my favorite subject in high school and fellow family members being engineers. So after a little coercing and encouragement from my mother, I changed majors and ended up in Advertising with focus on Marketing with minors in English and Psychology.
My mother always suggested I go into advertising because when I was 12, I wrote a letter to a major corporation suggesting they add to their doll collection. I thought they were discriminatory for not having an African-American doll, so I also proceeded to lay out the names and fruit fragrances of several dolls, along with drawing of their pets and homes, of course. They sent me a letter saying thanks, but no thanks. Within a year, new dolls were on the shelves and every doll I suggested made it to market. That was my first lesson about corporate America 🙃
I once sang during an interview for the Avanti Team, a distinguished student service organization founded in 1975 to assist new University of Alabama students in “moving ahead” with higher education aspirations, and I got the job! I made up words to a Disney song, go figure! To help pay my way for college, I worked at Disney World operating rides in adventure land and as a character, greeting customers in the park and dancing in the parade over the summers and holiday breaks.
After college, I joined Gap Inc. for advertising, but ended up in their executive retail program. I was a merchant for several years, and then did Merchandising and Design for their Outlet Division. I resigned and started a consulting business after my third child, as I couldn’t travel overseas. My hubby was traveling overseas for work at the time, and I wanted one of us to be here to raise out kids. I was hired to help create a Gap University- a learning center for their employees.
I would bring my lunch to work, and people were amazed at how tasty but healthy it was. They, as well as people at my yoga studio, started asking me to health-ify their family recipes and prepare meals for them. I started preparing meals for individuals, families, events. Some of my clients had special dietary needs. I figured if I was going to be cooking for them, then I needed to be educated on the subject. So, I went to holistic nutrition school and learned a wealth of knowledge about food, allergies, diseases, etc. My mom always said “you are what you eat,” and that rang so true with me. When my friend Kevin was diagnosed with terminal cancer, the yoga studio approached me to help him with his nutrition. I worked tirelessly researching his type of cancer and testing recipes until I found the right combo that Kevin could not only taste but also enjoy. When he passed, I decided to sell my snack mixes and use those proceeds to go towards his son’s college education fund, as education was highly important to my friend. I chose the name BOUCHÉES because my mom was of French descent, and she had cancer as well. BOUCHÉES translates as “bites” or “mouthfuls” in French, so it just felt right as a way to honor my mom. She was celiac, so she couldn’t have gluten obviously, nor could Kevin, so I started there.
Currently, I live in Northern California. I am a mom of three kids, two puppies and a hubby of 23 years! I love being active. I’m super healthy, eating mostly a clean, plant-based diet. I’m a former karate/kickboxer-turned-yogi. I am a Virgo, so I always strive for perfection, at my families dismay at times. I do everything fast! I was a competitive runner, and I played club and intramural soccer in college. My mom used to say I have two speeds: fast and faster. My mom had Multiple Sclerosis and couldn’t get out in the sun very much, but she always read and sang to me and now I love to read and sing. Three things to know about me is that I am fiercely loyal, I am a ROLL TIDE fan, and I am a Gamma Phi Beta girl 😀
What inspired you to start this journey, and what was your mission behind it?
As mentioned before, my workout friend and partner, Kevin, was diagnosed with terminal cancer. I wanted to create a nutrient dense but tasty snack to help get him through chemo. Food was unpalatable due to the chemo, as food tasted metallic, so he tried to mask that with sugar. He was craving the processed, sugar-laden granola off the shelf, and I just couldn’t allow that to happen.
My initial mission was to use the proceeds to help send his son to college, but I am finding once I honor that commitment, I have my sights set on something larger: nurturing the world, one healthier snack bite at a time.
What is unique about the product you are selling on ELG?
Firstly, it’s grain-free. There are many gluten-free products on the market, but not all are grain-free. It’s also Vegan certified, Non-GMO and Kosher, as well as Dairy-Free. So it ticks all of your “No-No” boxes except for nuts, of course.
That’s why my tagline says “Always nutty . . .Never naughty!” My product comes in a recyclable pouch, in eye catching colors and has versatile placement in stores and a multitude of end uses: it’s not only a healthy snack, but can be eaten as a breakfast cereal or as a topping for yogurt, ice-cream, soups & salads, eggs, veggies, and even grits. I am from the South remember. I recently became a member of Vegan.org, and I love working with that organization. Although I am not a vegan myself, I eat mostly a plant-based diet.
What’s your favorite product that you currently make and sell?
That’s like asking me who is my favorite kid. I honestly don’t have a favorite. But I do prefer one a little more on any given day. The Original was made special for Kevin, so it will always hold a special place in my heart. My daughter and I love chocolate in any form, especially dark. My hubby begged me to do a savory one, so Savoureux was my response to offering a savory type granola or snack mix. Lastly, I’m a little spicy and my hubby is from New Orleans, so Flambeaux came about while binge watching Game of Thrones.
What roadblocks did you encounter when you got started?
Being a solo operator comes with many challenges and roadblocks. It is still a learning process daily. I did not even know what a sell sheet was when I first started. One of the biggest issues is just getting a presence in the market. Grocery stores want you if you have a nation wide distributor, but nation wide distributors require you already have a large grocery account. So it’s a real “Catch-22.” Money is a big factor as well because I am bootstrapping my business, and it takes a lot of funding to get off the ground. I often found myself using the phrase “I don’t know what I don’t know …but I’ll figure it out!!”
Are there any specific charitable organizations that you currently work with?
Just my friend’s fund and Eat Love Give. I love being on this platform because I love that Eat Love Give gives back each month with a different charity.
I have also donated product to a cancer awareness fund raiser, as well as early childhood education/school events, and several health and wellness events locally and across the nation.
Are there any that you would like to work with in the near future?
There are so many great organizations. I do think orgs like No Kid Hungry do such an amazing job. I first became familiar as my husband used to work for Williams Sonoma and after studying nutrition, it holds an even more special place in my heart.
If you could change one thing about your company, what would it be?
I would unequivocally have to say the reason I started it. If I could go back and have Kevin here with us today instead of my company, well….it isn’t even a choice.
If asking what I could do with my organization, well then I would love to have more people in the organization. I feel like I am a “Jill of All Trades” and doing it solo doesn’t allow for one area to shine or stand out. Plus, I’m just a girl who could use some help, and I would love the company 😊
What does the future hold for your company?
I want to expand my flavor offerings and do a seed only version so that it can be openly in schools and service those with nut allergies. I’m also looking into single sized servings. It’s such a grab and go item, and single servings could be in places like vending machines, micro-kitchens, POP’s or cash wraps at stores, hotels, convenient stores, etc. basically, anywhere grab and go CPG’s are sold.