After spending time in Italy connecting with her family’s roots working in pasticceria, in a gelateria, and making pizza and cornetti (croissants), Sarah Galletti wanted to find a way to blend those experiences with the Los Angeles food culture. The idea for Tattooed Chef, a plant-based frozen food line with an emphasis on creativity and bringing unique experiences to everyday life, quite literally came to her in a dream. Here, she talks about tuning an actual dream into a thriving company.
Jess Cording: You’ve shared that the idea for Tattooed Chef came to you in a dream. What was that like?
Sarah Galletti: After I got back from Italy, I wanted to merge this LA culture and my Italian roots together but was unsure of what that really looked like until I had this dream. It was very real: I saw logos, the aesthetic and the packaging and even the font type. It was very linear in the way that it appeared. It’s hard to remember dreams, but for some reason I just woke up from this dream and I was like, “I need to draw this out right now.” It helped me carve out what the Tattooed Chef brand needed. I think the universe is always talking to us, and I think that we just need to listen to the pings that we receive. It helps us be clear on the path that we need to go on when we listen.
Cording: What were the first steps you took from having this dream towards making it an actual company?
Galletti: I was already formulating products for private labels and I knew what I wanted to create. I was trying to make sure that the consumer would feel very connected to the products that we put on the shelves. It really started with formulating products and then figuring out how to put them on the shelves. And my father has been in the industry for 35-plus years. He sits as our CEO today. He had incredible strategic advice for helping make this dream come alive. The brand was created in 2017, then in 2018 we got manufacturing facilities to actually make our product because we wanted to be the manufacturers of our products and control our destiny. Our first product was launched in 2019. It caught on in retail and has continued to grow.
Cording: How has the company grown since then?
Galletti: We are in about 20,000 points of distribution today. In 2020 we were very fortunate to go public, which has been a very intense experience, but also extremely rewarding. I’ve learned a lot about myself in that process. I think it was quite organic and felt like it happened perfectly, at a time where people were really willing to try a lot of new plant-based products.
Cording: What made you decide to do a plant-based line?
Galletti: Ultimately I wanted to create a brand that changes the way we eat, but also helps us feel more connected to each other in the world that we share. I think that creating plant-based products is very purpose driven. I knew there was space to put product that was great-tasting, and better for you on the shelves. I didn’t want people to feel like they needed to settle in any way. I wanted them to feel like there was no trade-off between delicious and good for you. I think that we’ve been able to do that through nostalgic innovation, something we’ve been really focused on. For example, we make macaroni and cheese, we make pizza, but hey, it’s better for you. I think that has resonated with our consumers because it’s familiar and also satisfies a desire many people have to eat a little bit less meat in their diets. We’ve really embraced this flexitarian concept [as opposed to more restrictive iterations of plant-based eating].
Cording:What do you wish you had known when you were at the beginning of start Tattooed Chef? Or is there any advice you’d share with others who want to start their own food company?
Galletti: Stress and pressure are always going to be there. Just know that sometimes when the best work happens is when you are under pressure and when you are stressed. It’s also really important, though, to focus on hobbies, the things that you love to do. For me it’s playing music, drawing and just taking a minute to do those things that you love and reset and then go back to the grind.