DES MOINES, Iowa — Sometimes a small idea can really blow up into something big.
That’s what Clair Williams did when she tossed together creativity, hard work and passion into a jar and shook it all up.
Williams considers herself a builder.
“I call myself, affectionately, a salad architect and the reason is I’m not a chef. I would never claim to be a chef,” she said.
For a builder like her, every aspect of their work is by design.
“Dressing goes in first in every salad except the flaming chipotle chicken salad,” Williams explained as she demonstrated to Local 5 how she puts together salads.
She knows by now, no design is ever perfect on the first draft.
“I made this at home and I loved it, kept adding to it, got feedback back and, ugh, it was so good,” said Williams.
She has learned that after she found out other people loved mason jar salads as much as she did, but with small tweaks.
“From day one, I would ask customers, ‘How can we be improving this? What ingredients do you like? What ingredients do you not like? What salads do you wish we had?’”
That crucial feedback then led to the creation of and booming growth of Green Mason salads within the last year. It started off as just an idea for Williams and her family to eat healthily and conveniently.
“You can have both … yes! What a wild idea!” she said.
It’s an idea Iowans are now on board with and now she spends her Tuesdays working out of the commercial kitchen at The Mickle Center in Sherman Hill.
“I feel like I’ve gotten really strong at this job,” Williams said.
Tuesdays are filled with prepping, reviewing and making sure every customer will be taken care of. Green Mason is a well-oiled operation now that she carefully and precisely runs.
“So, any of the salads or any of the dressings that have modifications, I highlight,” Williams said as she put salads in a fridge for customers to pick up.
Every piece of customer feedback, every ounce of hard work, and every Tuesday spent in this kitchen, all tossed together hasn’t just led to growth in delivery but now catering too.
“As soon as we started delivering salads in thermal bags to the homes of our customers, that changed everything."
The all-impressive work is now one more thing added to Williams’ life.
“I’m in the tech industry so I actually work in sales and operations for technology companies and at the same time that I started Green Mason, oddly enough, I started a sales consultancy called Creative Sparks Studios. So, that’s that side of life,” she said. “Salads and sales … who would’ve thought, right?”
Jar by jar, she hopes Iowans can get to know Green Mason because for her, home is where the heart is.
“Born and raised in Iowa, we have the best people,” Williams said. “When I think about what impact Green Mason can have in Iowa, I think it's going to be really big so it’s not just centralized here to Des Moines and the suburbs. I see Green Mason satellite locations throughout the states where there are multiple salad architects throughout the state in their hometown.”
And, home is what built this.
Williams is still constantly taking feedback from customers to improve the product.
Since the salads come in a jar, she said if you bring your jars back and order salads, you do get a discount.