This West Coast Market Is Committed to Indie Businesses and Better Ingredients

A collection of products from West Coast women entrepreneurs for TBP readers

Jim Dixon went to Italy in the 1990s and could not believe the difference between the cold-pressed, single-sourced, extra-virgin olive oil he tasted in his travels and the types of olive oil he had access to in the U.S. He returned home to Portland, Oregon, and decided to import the real-deal Italian olive oil: It was the beginning of a lively business, which has grown to sell 100 gallons of imported olive oil a week, wholesale and retail. Of the olive oil producers he works with in Umbria, Tuscany, and the Abruzzo, “I know all the producers personally,” he said — which is the kind of sourcing we like.

Fast-forward to 2019, and Jim opened a storefront with his business partner, Noah Cable — and Wellspent Market was born. A storefront has allowed them to expand their product line to include an array of domestic and international producers — including the entrepreneurial women featured in the collection we’re showcasing today.

You’ve met Robin Koda from Koda Farms along with Nikki Guerrero of Hot Mama Salsa. In addition to a jar of Hot Mama Smoky Coffee Chilie Oil and a package of Kokuho Rose Heirloom Rice, a handful of other products make up Founders’ Collection. It includes:

  • Akadi Mild Sauce, a West African marinade with ginger, garlic, African peppers, and spices from Portland-based Fatou Ouattara originally from Bouake, Côte d’Ivoire. She describes it as “a little sweet and a little salty, a little savory, and a little tart.”

  • Nong's Khao Man Gai Sauce, a positively addictive Thai chicken-and-rice sauce from restaurateur Nong Poonsukwattana. You can read about her in The Washington Post, watch her story, and check out her podcast, “Riding Tiger,” here. Nong also won an episode of the Food Network’s “Chopped” in 2014 and was named a James Beard semifinalist for Best Chef: Northwest in 2019.

  • Daybreak Seaweed Spicy Seaweed Flakes, according to the Wellspent folks, this combination of “Alaskan Wakame sourced from regenerative ocean farms and chipotle peppers grown organically in California yields an earthy, savory, salty seasoning with a spicy kick perfect for sprinkling on rice bowls, noodles, avocado toast, and anything else that needs a bit of oceanic goodness” from Catherine O'Hare and Avery Resor, the duo behind this Oakland, California-based company.

  • One Stripe Chai Me At Home Loose-Leaf Tea Blend, from Portland-based Farah Jesani, who notes that as an Indian, drinking chai is as much a part of her routine as Americans’ coffee habit. But versions she’d find at U.S. coffee shops were too sweet, so she decided to make her own. All of the spices in her chai are certified organic and ground fresh before production. In addition, she direct-sources tea from an organic and biodynamic fourth-generation family-owned farm in Assam, India.

  • Diaspora Co. x Jacobsen Salt Co. Turmeric Popcorn Seasoning, a mix of Trapani sea salt and heirloom, single-origin turmeric, sourced from Sana Javeri Kadri’s Diaspora Co.

  • Bobbie's Boat Sauce Classic, an umami pour-on-anything sauce Robin Rosenburg developed at sea, made of onions, garlic, and ginger, sautéed with jalapeños, then simmered with spices, tomatoes, Thai chiles, lime, and vinegar.

The West Coast Female Founders Collection is $85. We think you will enjoy it. On behalf of The Bittman Project, Wellspent Market, and this collection of women entrepreneurs, we thank you for your support.