Sam Savage Breit is the owner of Laguna Beach, CA farm-to-table specialty shop, The Salt Horse. Sam sources the freshest, most sustainable, nutritious, organic and seasonal product she can find and celebrates the stories behind the food and brands that she carries. Of course this is music to our ears and we jumped on the opportunity to connect with Sam to learn more about her journey, motivation, and vision behind The Salt Horse.
We're excited to share our conversation with Sam and offer a taste of why The Salt Horse is so special and innovative in the grocery space.
What made you decide to open The Salt Horse?
I’m a believer that when a door opens, you have to go through it. I see my journey to creating The Salt Horse as the result of a bunch of serendipitous opportunities.
Before moving to Laguna Beach, California, I lived in Palm Beach County, Florida and worked in the salon and spa industry (what I call “my past life”). When I was asked to move to Orange County for a job opportunity, I said “YES” and relocated (open door!). The company I worked for unfortunately closed all doors a few years later. Shortly after, I met someone and had two boys. As a Mom, now responsible for raising two humans, I searched for enriching activities and classes for me and my young boys; and ultimately created one – a storytelling, mindfulness, yoga, and art program for children ages 4-11 called Mindful Octopus. I approached my boys’ school and applied to work in their enrichment program to teach my ‘Mindful Octopus’ program. While there, an opportunity to help in the schools’ teaching gardens opened another door. In the beginning, I had no idea how to grow anything, but quickly became passionate about organic gardening and farm-to-table. I also needed to make myself indispensable and boost my hours (by this point my marriage had ended and I became a single Mom).
I attended Alice Waters’ Edible School program, which nurtured and grew my love for teaching kids how to grow food. I ended up taking over the garden program and creating curriculum at my boys’ school. In doing so, I created a farmer’s market program where kids could showcase what they grew, make goods for the market, and raise money for a chosen special cause. It became a very popular school community weekly event. Parents even started asking for salad dressings and other items that we were making for the lunch program so we bottled them up to sell at the market. From there, interest extended to items beyond food and I proposed to the school that we open a school store. At that point, I started connecting with farmers in the area to supplement produce and everything took off from there – soon I was no longer teaching and instead creating and managing all aspects of the schools’ store for 6 years.
In 2021, we were given the chance to test the store concept in town, in Laguna Beach. We found a temporary space and started serving families outside of school. Eventually, instead of going back on campus, I was encouraged to take over the space in town to open the store of my dreams, on my own. I graduated, just like my boys! And the small notebook on my desk at home became The Salt Horse.
"I'm a believer that when a door opens, you just have to take it."
- Sam Savage Breit
What a story and journey! And while food is your main focus - what's the broader intention behind The Salt Horse?
I want to build and inspire a sense of community and connection through creating food memories. I remember growing up and having big family meals around the table. My grandmother was the matriarch of the family and my closest friend. We used to cook together. Every week, my family would gather and all eat together. We would share stories, without distractions, and connect over our family recipes. The food memories and coveted recipes have also opened many ‘doors’ for me as a Mom, daughter, friend, and entrepreneur.
How are you doing things differently?
My favorite part of being a buyer is the opportunity to build relationships with the people who grew it, raised it, caught, and created it! I’m not interested in buying from a big distributor. I want to know that if I need beans, sauce, or cookies, I can just pick up the phone and call you. Also, knowing where food comes from and how it’s grown is imperative! Sadly, there is a dark side to what exists in our food system and once educated, you can’t unsee that. You can’t ignore that.
Everybody wants everything fast. But the connections are what truly matter and make all the difference.
You personally select every item in your store. How do you decide what to carry?
I love a beautiful story. Sharing the stories of brands, representing them, holding a space for them, will have a ripple effect. It has to. What we’re doing is only going to become increasingly more important because things are rapidly changing. People are going to start realizing, ‘maybe I should know where my food comes from’. When love is put into making something you can taste the difference. The food speaks for itself. I stand behind the quality of everything I carry.
"Everybody wants everything fast. But the connections are what truly matter and make all the difference."
- Sam Savage Breit
How do you see The Salt Horse evolving? What are your hopes for the future?
For way too long I have been a one-woman show, from being a single Mom to CEO of The Salt Horse. Collaboration has been a word on my vision board and I would love doors of opportunity to open to collaborate with other brands, creators, entrepreneurs, dreamers, makers......My door is always open and a light on in my kitchen.
The Salt Horse. 1360 S Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, CA 92651