I'm Julie Cecchini Cook, the founder of Terra Americana.
We handcraft specialty food. Baking mixes and spice blends are just a few of the ways we help busy people enjoy the comforts of home cooking. You will notice I say "we" a lot. While this may have been my inspiration, it lives and breathes because of a dedicated team of like-minded people.
My curiosity and appetite come from my grandmothers, who loved cooking, telling heartwarming stories, and embracing new experiences....
Time in the kitchen inspired a sense of adventure.
Exploring local bakeries, meat markets, and greengrocers with Grandma informed my understanding of craftsmanship while journeys farther afield with Nana instilled an appreciation of the differences in cuisine and process. After arriving at college, my room became an informal canteen for dorm mates as they marveled at the creative concoctions I was able to make with a simple hot pot and a packet of noodles.
Driving around the Portuguese countryside, an enchanting roadside display drew me to stop at a small shop.
A riot of color drew me in, quality and design offered led to a long, lingering perusal. The wheels were turning. Days later I returned with a friend to learn more about the family-run business. A Plan was hatched to send a crate home with selected pieces and so Terra Americana was born.
Starting a business was easy, finding a market was a more challenging.
The decision was made to start by following Tupperware's model and host house parties. Rather than playing games, she would share stories of her adventures and showcase the utility of these gorgeous finds. After recruiting a close-knit team Terra Americana began building a reputation for style and function.
So many years in the kitchen gave me the ability to pivot and improvise.
The next day we began assembling mixes for spice blends, soups, quick bread, and cookie mixes which would turn the imported pottery into functional gift baskets.
Our new products stole the show.
From that moment on, the more mixes we made, the more we sold. We dedicated the rest of the holiday season to preparing and packaging spice blends and baking mixes inside our various ceramic pieces. By the end of the season, we had sold all of our inventory and needed to decide what we would focus on going forward.
Recipients of the gifts we had sold were looking for more specialty foods.
Over the next two years, there was more and more call for spice blends, baking mixes, and herbal vinegar, and less of the ceramics we had started her business importing. Eventually, it became difficult to sell the hand-painted pieces because the Christmas Tree Shops had moved into our area and we were competing with the discounted pottery they carried at the time.
By the late '90s, Terra Americana focused solely on food.
Our growing line of spices, soups, gourmet grain, and baking mixes gained a fan base at farmer's markets in our local area. A few years later, we broke into wholesale with cookie mixes in jars being carried on the shelves of the Christmas Tree Shops, just in time for the 1999 holiday season.
At every turn, we made decisions not just about what was best for the company but what was best for our customers.
This customer-centric approach has carried us from the farmer's markets and pop-up shops into the bright lights of Hollywood productions. All the time, we stayed truly humble, asking only what was fair, and helping the people we served in whatever capacity we could.
We stand in service to the people, place, and foods we create.
Today Terra Americana is comprised of a team of eight.
This includes my husband Dan, our master blender of spice and jack of all trades.
We love sharing the fascinating stories of the origins of our products and the adventures we’ve had discovering them.