Confidence and pride are inspiring.
We are constantly trying to educate ourselves and improve in all aspects of our business. But, no matter where we are in our journey, we are confident and proud of our mission, confident and proud in our approach. And, we are confident and proud of our team. That confidence and pride are what provide us the foundation to share as openly as we do and to collaborate whenever possible with others.
I recently came across another local business with that same level of confidence and pride and, let me tell you, it was so, so very inspiring.
We’re definitely experiencing growing pains
It all started a few weeks ago… Christina and I are learning the hard lesson that as our business grows so does our infrastructure needs – in some cases, exponentially! And, one of the things we desperately need to help meet our cheese making demands is a vat pasteurizer that we can use to not only make cheese but also our increased production of cream cheese, yogurt and fermented cream for butter.
This is an expensive piece of equipment, so I found myself endlessly surfing the web looking for used dairy equipment and came across a company in Baltimore called Atwater’s who had some cheesemaking equipment for sale. I had never heard of Atwaters and, although they didn’t have the equipment I was looking for, something about their post caught my eye. So, I started to google stalk. I was floored by how much overlap there was between Atwater’s and the Modern Stone Age Kitchen and, frankly, I was a little embarrassed I didn’t already know who they were. Just take a look at the first paragraph on their “about” tab on their website:
Since 1999 Atwater’s has been making traditional food crafted by hand. We began in a small bakery making only one kind of bread and grew to our current Baltimore shops that specialize in soup, sandwiches, salad, cheese, coffee, scottish pies, jam, and more! As we continue to grow, our commitment to quality food and service remains the same. You can find our fine foods at our locations and markets across the Baltimore-Washington area.Atwater’s
Another cold reach out
I was so intrigued that I sent an email to their head cheesemaker, Rebecca, introducing myself and the Modern Stone Age Kitchen before I shut my laptop down for the night. Rebecca replied the following day and invited me to come and visit and offered her assistance if I had any questions as we grew and developed our cheesemaking operation here at the Modern Stone Age Kitchen. I immediately took her up on the offer and we made plans for me to visit the following Thursday morning.
Goodie Bag exchange??
A few days later Rebecca sent me an email with the subject that simply read: Goodie Bag Exchange?
In the body of that email, Rebecca noted how she and the founder of Atwaters would love to try some of our food and asked if we would be open to exchanging a goodie bag filled with some of what we make at the Modern Stone Age Kitchen for one filled with some of what they make at Atwaters. I thought it was a brilliant idea! So, before I left for Baltimore I packed a bag full of many of the foods we make here and an Eat Like a Human book.
Kindred spirits across the bay
The visit was amazing. Rebecca showed me through their production facility, introduced me to everyone, and patiently answered all of my questions. It was impressive – all of it! From their cheesemaking operation to their bakery to their small farm in the back – scores dedicated people were all working together to create high quality food for their customers. It reminded me so much of the vibe here at the Modern Stone Age Kitchen. Several hours later, at the end of the visit, we proudly exchanged our goodie bags and I signed a book for their founder, Ned.
They were so incredibly generous – I left with a bag filled to the brim with the amazing food they make at Atwater’s! As soon as I returned to the Modern Stone Age Kitchen I made up a big board for our team to sample their food. It was such a great opportunity for our entire team to literally experience and be inspired by another company while using all of their senses.
Check your ego at the door
At over 200 employees, several storefronts, and a presence at multiple farmer’s markets in the DC area, Atwaters is a LOT bigger than we are. In fact, they are at least 10 fold bigger if you simply look at the size of their team and also the size of their vat pasteurizer (we are hoping to purchase a 45 gallon one and theirs is 400 gallons!). But, none of it mattered. There was no ego, no judgment and no secrecy. There was no jealousy or feeling of turf encroachment. Rebecca and everyone I met at Atwaters were simultaneously confident and proud. I could feel it and it was inspiring.
They are a model for how we should all be operating – especially in the food, diet and health space.
If our ultimate goal is nourishing others then we can check our egos at the door and concentrate on not only nourishing our community but also helping others nourish theirs.
Thank you Atwater’s for what you do and how you are doing it. It has been inspiring getting to know more about you.
There are two important lessons here that are perfectly applicable to our home kitchens.
First, have confidence and pride in what you are doing no matter where you are in your journey. Whether you are baking sourdough bread every week or just shopped for the first time at your local farmer’s market, be confident in the steps you are taking and be proud that they are helping you nourish yourself and your loved ones.
And, second, use that confidence and pride to inspire others. There is always someone who can benefit from learning how you feed your sourdough mother or about that new vendor at the market you just discovered!