by Laura Steiger, Outreach Team
Nola Ovenell may be a familiar face to some Co-op shoppers as she has often sampled her delicious Salsa Mama salsa in our stores. She is proud of her small-batch and preservative-free salsa made with care in her commercial kitchen on her wooded property in Sedro-Woolley.
Nola's son, Ian designed the logo for this family business.
Photo at left courtesy of Salsa Mama, remaining photos by Habiba Sial.
By popular demand:
Salsa from Nola’s family to your family table
It’s funny how seemingly unrelated circumstances can converge to forge a new path in a person’s life. The convergence for Nola Ovenell involved her recovery from cancer and installing a pool at her house.
After getting a clean bill of health 15 years ago, Nola was so thankful that she determined to find work that was purposeful and fun. And, after Nola installed a pool at her house and it quickly became the neighborhood kid hangout, she needed a quick and healthy way to feed a lot of hungry kids.
The answer: salsa. Nola started making big batches of homemade salsa to feed the kids. They loved it and always asked for salsa every time they visited. Eventually, the parents started asking if they could buy her salsa. Soon Nola and her husband, Mike, got busy building a commercial kitchen on their property and Salsa Mama was born.
the business has always been a family project
Nola loves spending her days in her commercial kitchen in the woods, surrounded by the beautiful trees she loves and making healthful preservative-free salsa.
The business has always been a family project. As well as holding down their own outside jobs, Salsa Mama is a steady side gig for Nola’s family.
Husband, Mike, aka “the can man,” handles all of the recycling. Son, Ian, designed the labels when he was in high school and now he runs the website. Daughter, Caitlin, is in charge of labeling with sister-in-law, Debbie Zimmermann, also pitching in. Even Nola’s mother helps in the summer months, when she is visiting from Arizona.
we strive for the best quality we can make and use absolutely no preservatives
Nola said, “I never wanted to be a big conglomerate. I have 14 stores and that’s all I need. We make small-batch salsa. We strive for the best quality we can make and use absolutely no preservatives.”
Nola’s Recipe Tips
For a super simple guacamole-style dip, just mash avocados and mix in a container of salsa—done!
People have also told Nola that her salsa is great for making a flavorful, savory chili. Simply add a container of salsa to your favorite chili ingredients: beans, meat or vegan protein, tomato sauce, veggies, or grains.
Nola shared this memory from the very early days of her business.
“My first farmers market was a little tiny market at the hospital in Mount Vernon. I got there early and discovered that everyone needed a tent. I ran to the store but realized that the tent I got wasn’t a popup. It had 50 poles! I had poles everywhere! Finally, people must have felt sorry for me. Everyone pitched in and helped. I bought a popup tent before the next market.”