When Rhode Island resident Ziggy Goldfarb got married to his wife several years ago, he really outdid himself with their wedding centerpieces and favors. Instead of opting for the classic flowers, he hand-crafted things like jam and pickles to wow his guests. Shortly after, he decided to turn his passion for food into a pickling business. Ziggy sold his first jar of pickles in November 2014, and hasn’t looked back since. Fox Point Pickling Company offers up more than just traditional pickles, but also pickled carrots, beans and even their signature “Picklepop.” We met up with the Pickle Master himself to chat about local ingredient sourcing, the importance of having fun while running a business, and how his wife is his number one fan.
R.K: What made you start your brand? How did you first get the idea?
Z.G: It was a hobby at first! I was working a full-time job and we had joined a CSA. My wife and I had way too many vegetables, so we decided to learn how to pickle. It kind of took on a life of its own and I just couldn’t stop!
R.K: How did it all begin? What was the first thing you did when starting off?
Z.G: During our wedding, all the centerpieces were things I made like jam and pickles, and what not. So I thought, “I should start a pickle business.” We were living in Fox Point, Rhode Island at the time, so that’s where the name came from.
I took a ServSafe class, then kind of put it on the back burner for a bit. About a year ago, I heard about Hope & Main (a culinary incubator space in Rhode Island) and they were holding informational sessions. I got laid off like a week later from my job, so I was like, “Alright, this is the Universe telling me to go for it.” My wife actually told me it was the Universe giving me a kick in the ass! We did a Kickstarter, and then about five months later we were producing our first batch! We sold our first jar of pickles in the beginning of November 2014 so it’s been about three years now.
R.K? How do you source your ingredients?
Z.G: One of the important things for us is to get things as local as possible. I love driving down to the farm stands to see what they have in bulk, and buying in large amounts. I also love visiting the farms. We can’t source local all the time, but we always try to have something. For instance, in the winter we can keep our carrots local, or hot peppers in the fall. Our vinegar comes from New York, so it’s not too far!
R.K: What would you say to someone who has never tried your products? What makes you unique?
Z.G: Our texture and the spices we use, along with all the vegetables! Everything is sugar free with no additives, and we do everything by hand still. I think the main thing is the delicious flavors and the textures.
R.K: What’s your favorite flavor?
Z.G: Oh man, they’re all my babies! It really depends. To be honest, I think I eat the carrots the most just because they’re an easy snack and I dip them in hummus when watching TV. Cheese is my favorite food, and I crave the beans to go with cheese plates. We started out with the Garlic and the Spicy Dill Pickles, and that’s what we sell the most of still to this day!
R.K: What did you have to learn the hard way? Any challenges along the way?
Z.G: It’s all a challenge. I think efficiency is one; you definitely get more efficient as you go along and become quicker with things. Cash flow! There’s never any money when you need it.
You ask questions, though, and people in the food community are generally really lovely people. I talked to a lot of larger pickle makers around the country, and they are willing to help and have experienced similar challenges. Now, I share that information with others who are just starting off!
RK: Has there been a benefit to starting your business in the New England area that you don’t think you’d get elsewhere?
Z.G: Yes, I’ve been in Rhode Island for six years and Rhode Island people love local Rhode Island stuff – and love it hard. So I think that has definitely helped, and also there’s no one really doing this type of pickling in a large way in the New England area. The community has really embraced it! I’ve even heard from people in other areas of the country like California, who have said things like “My friend loves your pickles!”
R.K: What would you love to see in the New England food and wellness scene that you don’t now?
Z.G: Hm, its hard to say because people have been really great in the food space. Once you start doing farmers markets and holiday events, you meet a lot of people and it works out really well. So there’s definitely a lot of community here! People are willing to spend an extra dollar or two to get something that’s fresher and made with less additives, and they’re even trying new vegetables that they normally wouldn’t buy, like celeriac for example. I think it’s moving in the right direction!
R.K: What other local food and wellness brands are you a fan of?
Z.G: Oh man, so many! It’s funny because I’m not rich by any means, but I am rich with pickles. So when you go to these markets, we get to barter and share our food with other vendors. Recently, I’ve been loving Couët Farm & Fromagerie out of Dudley, Massachusetts. Their cheese tastes great with our pickles. Daniele, Inc. makes delicious prosciutto, salami and chorizo. There’s a brand called Essentially Coconut that does nut and coconut butters. And Bootblack Brand makes small-batch cocktail syrups like Ginger Cardamom Lime, which is awesome with some whiskey and seltzer. There really are so many great brands!
R.K: Who has been the greatest influence or role model in starting your business?
Z.G: My wife; she will not let me quit. She always says, “This is your time, you should do it” and has encouraged the brand 100%. When you’re running a business, there are ups and downs and she’s helped a lot. It’s important to be surrounded by supportive people!
R.K: What’s your favorite quote or business mantra?
Z.G: When things don’t go your way, just write it off as marketing expense! If things don’t turn out well, you can just say, “It was a marketing expense, whatever!” You know, if you’re at an event and just five people buy your product but two of them buy down the road, then whatever. Several people have given me this advice over the years.
R.K: Where do you hope to see your brand in the next two years?
Z.G: All throughout New England would be wonderful! I’d love to be a well-known gourmet New England brand throughout the area, and for people to be familiar with our products. We are actually gearing up to launch a new product soon, so stay tuned!
R.K: What advice would you give someone looking to start their own wellness or food business?
Z.G: I would say keep it fun, because you’re most likely not paying yourself for a while and if it’s not fun then it’s work. You could have a regular job that’s not fun and still get paid, so we make sure to have fun all the time!
R.K: Here at The W.E.L.L. Summit we like to say “Your vibe attracts your tribe.” How would you describe your vibe?
Z.G: I think quirky and fun. I’m nuts! If you saw us in the kitchen, we always have loud music blasting and we’re out having fun. At the farmers market, we’re all smiles because, like I said, if it’s not fun then it’s work.
The brand’s vibe is kind of new; nostalgic but not retro. If you see our products on the shelves, you’ll think “Oh, my grandma used to eat this” but it’s also got new spices and additions mixed in.