Our Story….”The Lady with the Dog” Becomes “The Pretzel Lady”
Yankee Doodle was my beloved Sheltie and constant companion in a previous job where I was a Rehab Consultant to nursing homes. I was known as “The Lady with the Dog.” Fellow dog lovers will appreciate how devastating her death was for me when she passed away in October 2004. To deal with the grief I started cooking for my colleagues at Drake Center, a rehabilitation hospital in Cincinnati where I was working as a speech-language pathologist. I cooked and cooked and cooked….I couldn’t keep up with the orders for black bean lasagna, white bean chili, hummus….Cooking every evening was therapeutic for me but one evening as I was chopping red peppers at 3 AM it dawned on me that I needed to rethink this hobby and decided to focus solely on the pretzels. Everyone loved the spicy pretzels and Marie’s Gift Shop at Drake Center began selling them as a benefit for Friends of Drake. I never intended to start a business, but that’s what happened and I became “The Pretzel Lady!”
On New Year’s Day 2005 I was gifted with another Sheltie who was six years old and needed a home. She came with the name KARMA. How fitting! She could have been Yankee’s twin and she definitely brought Good Karma to the business. I was devoted to her and am grateful for the seven years we had together; she became ill and passed away May 2012.
I felt so blessed to have cared for the two most wonderful dogs in the world and was totally blindsided July 2013 when another family asked if I would like one of their puppies. A lively mix of Poodle, Shih Tzu and Pomeranian came into our lives and we named her ZELLIE—of course! She is an incredibly funny, sweet, spirited and strong willed little girl.
The first account to purchase my spiced pretzels for retail sales was Drake Center in August 2005. Since then the business has grown steadily and we have our own commercial kitchen in Covington, KY. We sell ZELS to hundreds of locations as well as on-line. We are always looking to expand our sales!
My social enterprise mission is to help those individuals who are helping themselves. To that end, I hire nontraditional workers, meaning some have cognitive disabilities and others have made bad decisions in their past but are on the right track now. I’ve partnered with several agencies in Covington and mentor their clients, sometimes for internships and sometimes in actual employment. It’s a win-win!