Tracy Scott didn’t tell her family when she quit her job to launch Tracy’s Gourmet, her salad dressing business. She had been accepted into a nine-month aggressive mentoring program and was taking a leap of faith.
“You can’t share your dreams with everybody,” she said. “They don’t always understand. They can either help you or tear you down.”
But the dream is slowly paying off. Her dressings are sold in stores such as the Cary Whole Foods. She also was named one of 25 national finalists in the Wells Fargo Works Project, a program that gives small businesses mentoring and $25,000.
While her company wasn’t one of the five winners named last month, she received $1,000 for being a finalist, plus the recognition.
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Scott’s dream grew out of her own quest to become healthy. She was overweight and said she was easily bored with eating healthy. She began researching and testing her own response to certain foods.
“I’m not a doctor, but I am a doctor on my own body,” she said. “I know that when I stopped eating white sugar and white flour, I lost nine pounds in a month.”
More often than not during her journey, she found herself in her own kitchen coming up with recipes that kept her focused.
“I realized that what kept me interested in eating healthy was being creative,” she said. “I wasn’t trying to change the world.”
When she couldn’t find a salad dressing she liked that also met her health requirements, she began to experiment.
“I like the smell of lavender, and when I found out there was a culinary version of lavender, it blew my mind,” she said.
With that realization came her Luscious Lavender salad dressing.
“It took a long time to perfect,” Scott said. “It’s tricky to get the taste palatable.”
Aloha Kick, which has a coconut oil base, rounds out her salad dressing line.
After completing the mentoring program, Scott returned to the workforce but at a job that required fewer hours so she could continue to grow her business.
Her production facility is in Pender County, which means she spends a lot of time on the road. Her commitment is paying off, as she her product is sold in area stores. In Cary, Tracy’s Gourmet salad dressings are available at Whole Foods, a feat she said took a year to achieve.
Scott has offers to purchase from a local grocer as well as buyers overseas.
“Three countries want the products,” she said.
The stumbling block, she said, is ramping up production while also holding down a full-time job.
“I have good problems,” she said. “I’ve come too far to let it go. I can’t afford for it to become a hobby.”
She founded her company without a single loan.
“All the funding came from me and from my savings that I earned for working all those years. It’s something I’m proud of.”
Tracy’s Gourmet has six other products in the works, including a smoothie.
“They are all foods I found myself gravitating to to keep me on a healthy eating plan,” Scott said.
Scott is optimistic about the future.
“Salad dressing is hard to push,” Scott said. “If you can sell this brand new, out-of-the-box, totally new salad dressing, then the rest is easy.”
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About Tracy’s Gourmet
Contact: 919-672-1731; firstname.lastname@example.org
In stores: Whole Foods, Cary; Butcher’s Market, Raleigh