Today we’d like to introduce you to Colette Wetzel.
Colette, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
I moved to Austin in 2016 after completing my degree at Florida State University, a great first job in the fashion marketing industry and a cross country road trip. I knew that Florida wasn’t my forever home and that I wanted to be surrounded my like-minded creatives making an impact in the world.
Upon moving here, I struggled to find my niche. I quickly realized that the fashion industry wasn’t nearly as robust as I had hoped. I was working in a small retail shop in the summer of 2017 when I conceptualized Cultured Grazing Co.
Food and joyous celebrations have always been the center of my life. I come from a very large, loud, French Canadian family. Think “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” but in Florida and French. My mom was one of ten siblings and I have at least 30 first cousins. We gathered for every reason. We threw massive amounts of food down on the tables, gabbed, played, danced, and relished in the enjoyment of each other’s company.
The kitchen was the center of our home. My mom was always whipping up something unique and delicious. So when the idea of feeding people with thoughtful, delicious, seasonal and beautiful foods came to me, I was hooked. I’ve been obsessed ever since.
The name Cultured came to me because it reflects who I am in a whole range of ways. For one, cheese cultures come from the milk fermentation process. But the real reason why the name Cultured felt so right was for its social and personal implications. A cultured individual is someone who is well-traveled, elegant, appreciates art, music, food, etc. In my mind, this is also a person who has stepped out of their comfort zones in pursuit of self-exploration, fulfillment and creative endeavors. This is someone who chooses to alchemize for the betterment of self & society. It’s a word I aspire to claim, personally & through the avenue of this business.
I’ve taken my time building this business, knowing that when the time was right, I would go all in. When 2020 & the pandemic hit, I lost my full time (& at the time, dream) job, dove head first into my business & never looked back. It’s been the best decision I’ve ever made and Cultured has already grown exponentially.
We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
It has certainly not been easy. The biggest struggles for me have been mastering logistics and self-discipline. I started Cultured when I was 24… I had zero idea about food licenses, LLCs, taxes, insurance, business plans, etc. I think through a creative lens, so some of these logistical things can be a challenge for me.
For me, the other challenging aspects of entrepreneurship are self-discipline and isolation. I operate the entire business on my own (for now) and struggle with the self-discipline it takes to be my own boss & my own employee. There is also a sense of loneliness that comes with working as a soloprenuer. To combat this, I try as often as possible to collaborate and partner with local small businesses, which fuels my creativity and satisfies my need to be social.
Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I specialize in creating curated grazing boards, boxes and tables. My friends refer to me as the girl who does the cheese boards.
When it comes to the food, my main focuses are seasonality, freshness, quality and abundance. Presentation is also one of my highest values. I place a lot of attention on detail. This means I spend a lot of time folding cured meats, slicing fruits delicately, cutting cheeses correctly and placing every ingredient on the board or table very intentionally.
I am most proud that I started this business with maybe $200 in my pocket. I remember my first “paid” gig (I did it at cost because I was so excited for the opportunity). They gave me $200 dollars, but didn’t pay me until after I’d made all the purchases & completed the job. I had $2 left in my bank account in the interim and I was so afraid, but I knew that it would all be worth it. Now, I would easily charge 10x that for a table that size.
Cultured is known not only for quality & presentation, but also for the trust I’ve built with my clients & partners. Cultured was also one of the first grazing companies in Austin & the US. I believe this is what sets me apart.
Before we let you go, we’ve got to ask if you have any advice for those who are just starting out?
Create, create, create. Just keep making what is calling to you- this is how you learn. You will never be 100% ready, but if you are committed to growth and stand true to your values, you will learn along the way. The rest will follow.
Also, have trust & believe in your worth.
- Pricing for catering ranges from $22- $5,000+
- Email: email@example.com
- Website: www.culturedatx.com
- Instagram: @cultured_atx
- Facebook: @cultured.atx
Miki Ash, Emily from The Austin Aesthetic