Next up in our Meet the Maker series is a maker who is literally my JAM. Arian Blanco and her husband Chris are the founders of Sweet Lady Cook—a company that handcrafts seasonal, small batch jams in Santa Barbara. All of the ingredients in their delicious concoctions are grown and sourced locally. That means their jams are not only fresh, but the flavors change with the seasons. Ah-mazing! A few of their fabulous July flavors included Blenheim Apricot, Albion Strawberry with Honey, and Santa Rosa Plum.
One other great thing about Sweet Lady Cook? They’ll be onsite on day two of Re:Make selling their fabulous jams! That means on October 5th you can stop by Fort Mason Festival Pavilion to taste and pick up some of their fall flavors. Be sure to snag your ticket to Re:Make here!
Now take a quick peek inside Arian’s world of jams, and as she says, “all things tasty.”
First things first, tell us a little bit about yourself.
Hi! My name is Arian Blanco and I live in Santa Barbara with my husband, Chris. I’m a recent graduate from the University of California Santa Barbara with a degree in Sociology and am now pursuing my dream of entrepreneurship and love for all things tasty. Growing up in the suburbs of a small town in Florida, the idea of eating something grown locally didn’t exist for me. If you wanted to buy food, you went to the grocery store. So when I moved to California and discovered farmers markets, it changed my life. It was like discovering food all over again. This is when and where my passion for food was born.
When did you first realize you love to make?
As a child, I would stand on a stool next to my grandmother in the kitchen, and she would let me help her cook. That’s where I discovered my love for making.
Why did you decide to start Sweet Lady Cook?
After graduating from college, I knew I wanted to do something creative that involved food. Earlier that year I had started making jam as a hobby and giving it away to friends and family. When people began to ask if they could buy it, I decided it was time to turn my hobby into a business.
How do you choose different projects or recipes that you try?
My recipes are based on what ingredients are in season and available locally. All of the fruit I use is sourced from small family farms within sixty miles of Santa Barbara.
Where do you get your inspiration?
I like to go to the farmers market for inspiration. It gives me the opportunity to see and taste lots of different items all in one place.
Which project or recipe are you proudest of?
I would have to say I am most proud of my blueberry and honey jam.
What’s one piece of advice you’d share with other makers?
Don’t be afraid to take risks.
What other creative hobbies do you have?
When I’m not making jam, you can still find me in the kitchen cooking up other creations.
How has technology changed and supported what you do?
Technology has dramatically changed how I connect and share with people in the last few years. For example, I can take a high quality photo with my iPhone and share it across various social media platforms within seconds. As a small startup this has been a vital tool for us.
How do you think the analog world is changing as the digital world continues to boom?
The analog world will need to evolve in order to compete with the digital world. Aspects of it will survive and others will cease to exist. We can see this in our daily lives whether it’s reading the morning news on your iPad or taking a class online. I think there are certainly pros and cons to each and that it’s important to maintain a balance.
Have you fallen in love with Sweet Lady Cook yet? Then don’t forget! Arian and Chris will be joining us at Re:Make on October 5th. Stop by Fort Mason from 11am-6pm to pick up a few jars of their artisanal jam!