Peg's Salt started in the 1970's as a gift of love from Peggy Cass to her neighbors and friends. Peggy was a brilliant cook and, as her daughter, Cass Cannon, puts it, "she had a marvelous sense of flavor." Peggy was selfless with her gift; and beyond just sharing the delicious meals she made, she shared with her friends and family a blend of salt and spices so that they too could create masterpieces in the kitchen. Everyone with whom Peggy shared her creation loved it, and soon after receiving it they would be back for more. Many people came to depend on Peggy's talent and used her creation in just about everything they made. Peg's Salt is "kind of like a magic powder that just makes things delicious." Cass laughed as she described her mother's creation. "Anytime you have a recipe that calls for salt, you can use Peg's Saltand it just gives it that little extra 'umph.'"
What makes Peg's Salt so amazing is that it enhances the flavor of the dishes to which it is added. It doesn't make everything taste the same; instead it brings out different subtleties unique to that food, bringing any recipe up to its full potential. People who use Peg's Salt begin to rely on it because they know that without it, their meals just won't measure up to the standard to which they have become accustomed. Given this quality, Cass had her mother write down the recipe.
Peggy passed away fifteen years ago, but her legacy lives on through Cass and the recipe her mother left to her. For several years Cass continued to make Peg's Salt and give it away. People would come up to Cass and say, "You should sell this," or, "People just love this so much," or, "Start a business, Cass." So, in February 2012, she did just that by creating the product Peg's Salt.
"It was kind of a crazy and dumb thing to do in many respects," Cass said as she reflected on starting a business. "You never really know what it means until after you've started." It took six months of work but in October of 2012,Peg's Salt hit the shelves. Since then Peg's Salt has taken off. It is now sold in all the Whole Foods in Virginia and D.C. It is well represented in central Virginia at almost all food groceries and gourmet food shops like the Greenwood Grocery, Rockfish Gap Country Store, and the Shops at Wintergreen. It is also in museum shops like the Michie Tavern Gift Shop and the Manassas Museum Gift Shop. In addition, Cass receives orders for Peg's Salt from around the country via her online store. "Near Christmastime people order whole cases and give it to their friends, and then in six months I hear from their friends."
Cass's turnover is pretty slow because of the nature of her product. A little pinch goes a long way. Even so, Cass has seen her sales nearly double each year since she started. Cass does all of the work for her business. She mixes the blend, she delivers it to stores, and she does her own marketing and promoting.
To get started Cass relied heavily upon SCORE. She attended several workshops and following one of them, she caught up with the presenter to ask a few questions. She described her idea and was referred to Ray Friedman. Ray became her SCORE mentor. It was a perfect fit because of Ray's background in the food and grocery business and his specific experience with seasonings. "Ray was a really great counselor. His advice was totally invaluable; it was so great to talk with someone who knew the seasoning industry. He was, and still is, particularly helpful with the finances of my business." Cass noted and then laughed, "I'm not an enthusiastic record keeper! Someone like Ray was really good w ith the margins and the numbers. He helps me make decisions based on them."
With a little help from SCORE, Cass has shared her mother's creation with the commonwealth. With so much success and the traction that Peg's Saltnow has, Cass is looking to take the next step for her business. Ray and SCORE will help her navigate her way and with any luck, Peg's Salt will reach tables around the world, enhancing both the flavor on those tables and the lives of the people seated around them.