“My mother made a simple balsamic vinaigrette using olive oil, vinegar, mustard, and a lot of garlic. It’s an elegant dressing, and I’ve never found it necessary to use anything else on my salads,” Sophia said.
A lot of us have favorite recipes handed down from our moms, but not all of us start food companies with them. What prompted Sophia in that direction?
“My brother! He had long held that there was a business to be had in bottling and selling the sauce. He even dared me to give it a try,” she laughed.
“I wasn't expecting to start a salad dressing company, but I needed to go back to work. As the mother of three young children, I was looking for options with flexibility and salad dressing was one of several I was floating at the time. When an employee of Whole Foods tried my home-made dressing and said, ‘We don't sell anything like this and we should!’ and offered to put it on their shelves, I decided to seize the moment.”
The transition to entrepreneurship always brings surprises. For Sophia, it was the realization of how much stamina it takes to start a business. She looks at larger businesses and appreciates all the components that go into their growth.
And she is delighted to recognize how much space there is for every good idea.
“What's crazy is that what makes us different is that we go back to basics. We only use olive oil, no shortcuts, because we think your salad dressing should be as healthy as your salad.
“I'm a former film-maker and in film-making there's an expression, ‘garbage in; garbage out.’ It's no different in food. In both instances, you're making something and how good it is depends upon the raw materials.”
Making the company itself with the right ingredients was an important part of Sophia’s vision for Dress It Up.
“I think the choices we make matter and I've tried to run my business like we were a $5 million dollar company, even when our revenue was $55k. Because if we didn't pay attention to things when we were little - our impact on the environment, how we treat our employees, our corporate structure - it would be much harder to institute them as we grew,” she said.
“Being a Certified B Corp gives us a way to measure our success in more than just dollars. Today, Dress It Up works with schools to ensure healthy meals for children. During the Covid-19 pandemic, we have been proud to partner with DC Central Kitchen and World Central Kitchen in providing meals to those in need.”
A favorite manta has guided Sophia in shaping and growing Dress It Up to be a force for good in the world: "You think you're too small to have an impact? Try sleeping with a mosquito."
“I’m not intimidated by our small size. I know I can make a difference! ”