Our simple mission statement:
"To Make People Smile"
JILL SMITH ~ cowgirl, horse breeder, clay artist, cook and Head Cat Herder
I think my passion for food started with broccoli. When I was young I remember my mother trying to convince me that broccoli was good. I was sure she was wrong. Then she seasoned it just right, cooked it perfectly and after the first reluctant bite…..I knew broccoli was fabulous. But I sure wasn’t going to let my mother know that at the time!
Food was always a celebration for my family. We came together at the dinner table to share the day’s happenings and feast on ordinary food with fabulous taste. We weren’t gourmet and we weren’t into elaborate preparations….just SIMPLE good food, seasoned well and presented with flair.
My dad was the original health food fanatic and sunflower seeds, granola and whole grains were staples in the kitchen. We were an active camping and athletic family and our food reflected our taste for HEALTHY and HEARTY nourishment. But if the food didn’t TASTE good we weren’t eating it!
We were adventurous eaters! We brought home the first “pizzzza pie” (as my grandmother called it) on the block. The little, white Chinese take out boxes regularly marched up the front walk as my dad brought home chow mein, shrimp and rice for a night’s feasting. The neighbors thought we were nuts but were soon joining us. We always fed people and many nights out of the week there were extra friendly mouths at our evening table.
So I learned the fine art of feeding people with simple, good food from my mom and developed a quirky sense of humor from my dad! Just in case you wondered where the whimsical stories on all the packages came from...I attribute my zany writings to my dad's desire to make people smile!
With that upbringing, I’ve always cooked and food has always fascinated me. I started my first food company, Buckeye Beans and Herbs, in the 80s. My second food company, Aunt Patsy’s Pantry, followed in the 90s. Buckeye started with a thousand dollar investment and grew to be a 7 million dollar a year enterprise with 50 employees, a 36,000 facility and worldwide sales. Whew! I don't have Buckeye anymore and have missed helping people make good tasty meals, just like my mom taught me. I also have this insatiable drive to write crazy, whimsical stories that make people smile, just like my dad taught me.
Besides having a food passion, I am a clay artist too and sell my work in galleries through out the west coast. The cowgirl comes out in me as a horse breeder. I bred and raced Arabians for years with many a west coast champion. Now I cross my racing Arabs with Kiger Mustangs to produce endurance horses. There is also many a family that has one of my "forever horses" in their back yard! My big, white, blue-eyed quarter horse stallion, Commander, is the local talking horse. We publish our adventures together and he will definitely entertain you with his point of view on many a subject. Sometimes... I wish I didn't have a horse that talks!! Look under "Ranch Blog" for our "Life With The Blue-eyed Wonders" conversations.
So here I am with another food company, determined to help busy people of today’s world take ordinary food and give it extraordinary taste! After all, the magic of good tasting food is found by using quality ingredients and enhancing their natural goodness with just the right blend of herbs and spices! With our smile-full approach we might just entertain you too!
Jill Smith ~ serial entrepreneur and CEO of Cowgirls Cookin'
Darlene Hopkins ~ cowgirl, horse trainer, marketer, Lead Rider for Cowgirls Cookin' Fundraising
I have been blessed with several dream jobs. I was hired as a flight attendant (don’t call me a stewardess!) and had a blast. For 15 years there were many hilarious stories filled with great times with passengers and working with coworkers that were a hoot. I valued what I learned about customer service with a smile!
Then I followed my dream to be a horse trainer and ranch owner. My success was earned by suit'n up and show’n up. For a cowgirl that means putt’n on your jeans (creased down the middle and long), silver spurs (need to be heavy to keep them in place), big belt bucket (real cowgirls only wear the buckle you won), and lots of time in the saddle (comfortable seat). Showing up, spending time in the saddle and consistent training, opened the door to winning many championships. I learned a lot about having a strong work ethic, great organizational abilities and an easygoing and friendly nature. Great skills for cowgirls in all walks of life!
Learning the skills necessary for training 28 horses at a time was some of the best and hardest times. I have pushed myself to what I thought was my physical limit and found out that I could do much more than I thought. Horse training and owning my own 35 stall facility was this horse crazy girls’ ultimate dream come true. Riding horses everyday helping horses to learn a job and be good citizens was fulfilling in a way that I can only explain as spiritual experience second to none. Winning was great but the journey was what filled my soul. Teaching clients to ride, train and show and constantly improve their skills, took a lot of continuing education for me with every hour and frustration well worth it. My customers were as important as the horses they loved.
I was active with my local Arabian club as President for 7 years. As a volunteer that means many hours of work being part of a group dedicated to the Arabian horse and keeping the club growing and prospering. Having an easy way to fundraise with a private label produce that had our mission statement on it, then having that product in all the kitchens of our supporters ... would have been priceless. Fundraising always seemed like we worked so hard putting together events that still had a risky financially outcome. Getting board members to decide what and how to pull in all together made fundraisers not a lot of fun. I am guessing you’ve experienced this nightmare. Burning out volunteers with too much fundraising work can be a problem!
So with a background of customer service (to both humans and horses!) I'm here to help work together with you on promoting your cause, working smarter and putting fundraising monies in your groups account. I learned many times over while earning my bachelor’s degree in marketing at San Diego State, that first you must have a great product (which we think we do!). The rest is developing a smart plan, carrying it out and then being blessed with the problem of how to distribute all the money you earn!
Best regards my friends...let’s get busy with our cowgirl version of fundraising combined with your great cause! Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Darlene Hopkins - Lead Rider for Fundraising