Our Daily Salt
Unique, South Side business creates handcrafted kitchen items that are beautiful and functional.
“We are something that pairs nicely with any food,” says Felisha Wild. She is talking about the hand-crafted products for the kitchen made by her business, Our Daily Salt: end-grain cutting boards, hand-turned wooden bowls, rolling pins, salt cellars, spice mills, bottle stoppers and hand-carved tongs, spoons and scoops. Her store opened a few weeks ago in the Silver City neighborhood on 35th and National, another business that adds to the blossoming foodie scene in Milwaukee.
How did Our Daily Salt arise? A few years ago, Felisha Wild and her life partner, Janelle Phallen purchased and renovated their North side home. While making decisions for their new home, Wild thought of what she would design if she could have her dream kitchen. To cut costs, she decided to try her hand at some of the woodwork. It started out with a couple of end-grain cutting boards she made in her basement.
“I made two. I gave one away and kept the other. I posted it on my food blog and I began to get people asking about the boards.” She joined a friend’s booth at a local farmers market and things took off from there.
“I want to bring products to people’s attention that they may not have known they were missing, “ says Wild.
She compares her products to a simple spice — one we get so used to, we would immediately know if it were taken away. “Like salt, we can become a part of people’s daily lives,” says Wild. “That is the purpose of our products.”
Since winning the contest, the brick-and-mortar building that houses Our Daily Salt has undergone over $160,000 in renovations. Wild and Phallen have been hands on during their renovation of the 2,000-square-foot space. The store front was a boarded-up nail salon, which had been a blight on the community.
The building was mostly gutted on the inside, the walls encased in cheap, crumbling plaster. What she found behind them shocked Wild: Beautiful cream city brick and an original tin ceiling. Wild had her hand in designing both the retail space and glass-encased woodworking shop in the back, where customers can watch as the beautifully-crafted products are made right before their eyes.
The storefront not only displays Wild’s artisan cutting boards (some playfully crafted into the shape of Wisconsin), spoons, pepper mills, cork screws and classic tapered rolling pins, but also exhibits items from other local artists. Tapestries and art from local Milwaukee artist Thom J Ertl adorn the shop’s walls, while handmade furniture from Hastings Furniture Co. of Chicago completes the streamlined beauty of the sales floor.
Our Daily Salt had its grand opening Friday, September 5th. Many came out to help Wild celebrate her new business, including Charlotte John-Gomez of Layton Boulevard West which promoted the contest Wild won, and representatives from groups like Impact 7, SCORE, the Multicultural Entrepreneurial Institute and the Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corp. There was even a surprise visit from Mayor Tom Barrett.
“It’s strange to see the mayor walk through your door,” says Wild. “I took him into the wood shop area and had to squeeze his entire security team in there with him. That’s not something you wake up expecting.”
Wild, a local chef, has worked in restaurants both in the Milwaukee and Chicago areas. From a young age, her love of both food and the way we look at food has consumed her. Wild says she believes we are “now in a time where we appreciate our food and the relationship we have with each other while preparing our food”.
Wild wants us to embrace our food culture and to find the beauty within every aspect of it. It’s not only what we are eating, it is our surroundings while we cook. Our family, our friends, even the utensils we are using. It’s all a part of the experience as far as she’s concerned.
Some might say Wild and her team make products too beautiful to use. Wild will hear nothing of that. “I do this because I want people to love and use these products. Nothing brings me more joy than to hear back from a customer and learn that they are not only loving, but using our products in their daily life.”
Our Daily Salt, 3519 West National Avenue in Milwaukee. You can contact Wild at felisha@OurDailySalt.com or by calling 414-671-9453.