Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Matt Mullins, Owner of Newport Sea Salt Co., located in Newport, RI, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Our Newport Sea Salt is a small veteran and woman-owned artisanal sea salt company that follows the traditional and unhurried process of crafting small batches of 100% pure and natural culinary finishing sea salt. Our seawater is hand harvested from the pristine waters of Brenton Reef along the beautiful and historic Ocean Drive of Newport, Rhode Island. Our customers vary from our loyal farmer’s market customers, foodies to lovers of all things Newport…even to wedding couples seeking a local, hand-crafted, and unique favor for their wedding guests to bring home with them and actually use!
Tell us about yourself
After serving our country for twenty years as a U.S. Naval Officer, I had the desire to stay connected to the sea and to the place where I retired from the Navy, the beautiful Newport, Rhode Island. During my naval career, I was fortunate to have traveled and sailed all over the world while visiting over 40 countries along the way. I was also very fortunate to have been assigned with NATO and stationed with my family in Naples, Italy, for 3 amazing and adventurous years. It was here, living in an Italian coastal region, that I really learned to appreciate the use of good finishing sea salts. Sprinkled on top of fresh tomato bruschetta, a pinch to season some excellent local olive oil to dip your bread into, or a dash on top of a freshly grilled fish...nothing tastes better than seasoning a fish with the salt it swam in!
I love to cook and brought many yummy ingredients back home from Italy, but I knew these goodies would not last forever. However, seeing sea salt productions in my travels in Sicily and France has made me think of the possibility of making my own sea salt here in the beautiful Ocean State. At first, the thought was a bit of a novelty. Although the more I thought about it, read and researched it, the idea soon became a passion. Having studied oceanography in college, serving as a naval officer sailing the seas, and having a passion for cooking, made the idea of harvesting sea salt seem like such a natural fit...and it is! We are the first sea salt company in Newport, RI, in nearly 200 years! My wife and I are revitalizing an old craft of taking seawater and creating a beautiful flaky finishing sea salt. We love the ability to craft something so essential yet overlooked and have the opportunity to share our hand-crafted sea salt with our customers from local to all over the globe! And to set our own work schedules is pretty amazing too!
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Our biggest accomplishment is starting our own sea salt business in 2017 and continuing to stay in business even through a pandemic! Every day has been a ‘Small Business School Day”; however, we get to learn and grow our business together as a husband and wife team….and we are still married! ;)
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
To be honest, we find that one of the hardest challenges with being a small business owner is all the other business ‘stuff’ outside of crafting our sea salt! There are so many moving pieces and requirements at the local, state, and federal levels! It sometimes is so hard to manage it all.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions and continue to learn from other small business owners, your local Small Business Associations, and other subject matter experts.
- To be prepared for feedback - good or bad on everything from your name, logo, packaging, taste, and quality of your products.
- The vision of your business may not happen overnight; it’s a journey! Stay committed to seeing your business unfold and appreciate every step and lesson along the way. SEAS the day!
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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