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Behind the Biz | Not Without Salt, Ashley Rodriguez

November 12, 2014

Ashley Rodriguez founded her business, Not Without Salt, in 2009. She loved everything about the foodblogging world, especially how it allowed her to be creative and pursue her passions while being able to stay at home with her three children. Since 2009, Not Without Salt has grown to become an award-winning cooking blog and has won over the hearts of foodies all over the world. 

More recently, Ashley felt a need to provide her blog lovers and foodies everywhere with something tangible. She longed to provide customers with a hands-on version of a beloved recipe from her blog and started scheming to find a way to create a product. While perusing William & Sonoma and noticing their various dessert mixes, Ashley got the idea to package up her favorite salted chocolate chip cookie as a mix. People have gone crazy over this stuff. I know I have. These are, hands down, the best chocolate chip cookies I have ever had. 

Ashley and her team get together every Monday for production of the mix at their offices in Ballard (Seattle), Washington. They ship on Wednesdays to anyone who has placed an order with them over the past week. Customers can also pick up their orders on Wednesdays at the Ballard location. 

An aspect of Ashley’s company that I absolutely adore is the set priority to give a portion of every cookie mix purchase to First Aid Artsan organization that serves those affected by trauma by using the arts to help them through the healing process. Art is in Ashley’s background and she’s seen the first hand affects of using it as a medium for healing. For her, baking fits right in there and it seems like the perfect partner.

And if that isn’t enough, Ashley’s been working hard on her latest project- she’s proud to announce that her first cookbook is available now to pre-order! “Date Night In” is a cookbook journal of sorts chronicling weekly at home date nights, her marriage and the food she cooks for those nights. It’s 25 chapters and each chapter is a menu. Each chapter begins with a narrative about the importance of date nights even though dating in marriage doesn’t always come easy. There are over 120 recipes, but more than that it is a very honest look into marriage – the life and the joy and work that goes into keeping a relationship healthy and thriving. You can read all about the process, more about the book, and also learn where to pre-order it on her blog here.

But seriously, If you haven’t checked out Ashley’s breathtaking blog, head that way stat. And if for some reason, you still haven’t jumped at the opportunity to get yourself a batch of that salted chocolate chip cookie mix, you’re only hurting yourself ;) I mean c’mon, Ashley’s mastered the art of a heavenly chocolate chip cookie: soft, lots of chocolate, and a touch of salt. Vanilla bean infused sugars, Guittard chocolate, and Maldon Flaky Sea Salt are her secret ingredients; all you need is a stick of butter and one egg. Get after it, ya’ll. You can order the mix online here!

Full name: Ashley Rodriguez
Age: 32
Current Title/Company: Food Photographer, Writer, Blogger, Cookbook Author, Creator of the NWS Salted Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix

Why did you decide to become a small business owner?
Ever since I was 6 years old I was a small business owner. It’s in my blood. There wasn’t really a moment where I chose it, to me it seemed like the only way. 

How has your business changed since you started? How would you like to see it grow even more?
It’s changed so much. I just take it a day at a time and when an idea strikes we go for it. I had no idea this is where I would end up when I started blogging. I just want the business to grow so I can keep on doing more of the same. More cookie flavors, maybe even more products and hopefully more cookbooks.

Where can we find your products to buy?
On my site (notwithoutsalt.com/shop), manykitchens.combrit.co, and soon surlatable.com. In Seattle you can buy them at Ballard Sip & Ship, The Pantry & The Wax Bar. We’re picking up new wholesale clients all the time and we keep our shop updated on where people can find the mix. We want to make the mix available to everyone so we’re also opening up our little office as a pop-up shop in December for people to come pick up some mix. We’ll have our holiday flavor and offer discounts for people who buy 6 or more. 

How has being a small business owner affected you personally?
In so many, many ways but like I said before it’s all I’ve ever known. I feel so incredibly grateful that I get to wake up, dictate my day and do what I love on a regular basis. It’s hard to turn it off sometimes and just relax but that is worth the satisfaction I get from pursuing my passion as a career. 

How did you attract a client base? Was it marketing or more word of mouth?
The blog became my platform. I’ve been doing it so long and the growth has been very steady. The blog has created a very sweet community of people who have followed along through the birth of my children and all the ups and downs of that. They continue to support me in all of my crazy ideas. 

Who is your ideal client?
Absolutely someone that gets just as excited about the food as I do. 

Best moment of your career so far?
Two days ago my book (coming in December) hit #3 on Amazon in the cookbook/entertaining/seasonal category. That felt pretty damn great. 

What does a typical day look like?
Get the kids out the door, have a quiet moment to myself, look at my email, answer a few then feel like a terrible person for all the emails I’ve yet to answer, work on the day’s assignment (freelance work, blog post, etc.) or go make or ship cookie mixes. I’m done by 3 so I can hang with the kids, make dinner, help with homework, etc. The evenings I try to just relax and unwind, unless it’s a date night, then I’m in the kitchen making a feast for Gabe and I. 

What is your immediate next step or next goal for the business? Next milestone?
Right now my focus is on getting more and more people to try the cookies and gearing up for book tour. When that winds down I’ll be able to think about next steps. Although I am already dreaming of another cookbook. 

Tell me about how you efficiently maintain a wholesome work/life balance.
Well, it’s not always efficient and it changes all the time but I think Gabe and I just try to be honest with ourselves and each other. I tell Gabe what I need and he does the same for me. It is a constant give and take, push and pull. It’s important to know your limits and to respect them and to honor that with your partner too. As the kids get older I ask them how they feel like I’m doing in this. They appreciate my honesty and know that I’m not perfect but that my desire is for them and to make sure they are feeling more valued than my computer or iphone. 

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