Pinch me. To be named among Food and Wine’s 2015 pick of 21 Innovative Women in Food and Drink is simply breathtaking. I suspect that each one of us in our humble, female way all ask ourselves, “Why me?” “How did I end up here?” “There must be a mistake.” Wouldn’t I love to have the women on that list all around my kitchen table and really change the world.
Just as First Lady Hillary Clinton counseled in 1996, “it takes a village to raise a child.” It also takes a village to realize the lofty visions of women and how they see the world as it could be.
I am so honored to be recognized among women of vision, pluck and grit. Big ideas are great but without the supporting team they simply don’t happen. This is my chance to thank those with whom I share this achievement. My business partner of three decades, Bob Reese, without whom Vermont Creamery would not have been possible. With every crazy idea, he toiled with the numbers to get us through. Don LaRose for getting the cheese out the door every day, no matter what. Adeline Druart, a big thinker who drives the plan and motivates the team to do better. My heart is full of gratitude for all of you at Vermont Creamery who work overtime and on weekends, who conjure up great ideas, and who give yourselves completely to make it all happen. I wouldn’t have a clue how to do what each of you does. And to those who believed in us along the way: bankers, customers, family members who wrote the checks, and the farmers! Gosh, hail to the farmers who milk those goats every day so we can make great cheese—that’s the labor of love.
Of all the great foods we have at our disposal, goat cheese has made the cut. In the early 80’s goat cheese was but a glimmer in the eyes of my sisters in cheese. This award is for all of us: Mary Keehn, Judy Schad, Letty Kilmoyer, Laura Chenel, Paula Lambert, Jennifer Bice, and Laini Fondiller. What were we thinking? There was no time for thinking. Just doing and proving to the nay-sayers that we could do it. I need you and cherish our sisterhood.
With all of these women I share an important bond. Starting a business and bringing innovation to the market is a lonely endeavor-fraught with self-doubt and fear. Today we flourish in a vibrant food community of life long friends. We didn’t imagine it, and it simply doesn’t get better. To all women food and drink entrepreneurs, you go girls! Or more appropriately, let’s go girls!
Find Food and Wine's complete list of 2015's Innovative Women in Food and Drink here.