By Jonnelle Davis News & Record, Greensboro, N.C.
Kissie Stroup is on a roll.
The local entrepreneur's salad dressings were featured on the menu during June's U.S. Open golf tournaments in Pinehurst.
Stroup, the owner of the Little Black Dressing Co., said that exposure helped get her new contracts with big-name grocery chains. Even Martha Stewart has taken notice.
Stroup has been named a finalist in Stewart's 2014 American Made competition, which highlights local businesses and their handmade products.
Stroup's business was named a finalist in the bottled, jarred and canned division of the competition's food category. She is one of two finalists from North Carolina in that division.
Business owners enter themselves in the competition. The editors of Martha Stewart Living magazine judge the entries, and Stewart makes the final selections.
Ten winners will be announced in mid-October. They get a trip to New York, $10,000 and a chance to be featured in Martha Stewart Living, among other prizes.
Stroup also has recently started selling her dressings in Fresh Market stores in Greensboro, Winston-Salem and Southern Pines, as well as in Lowes Foods in Clemmons. And she said her products will soon be on the shelves at Whole Foods stores in Greensboro, Winston-Salem and Charlotte.
"I think with the U.S. Open and its publicity, that was a real boon for us," Stroup said. "And I think it validated to grocery stores that we are a desirable product."
The company that catered the 2014 U.S. Open and U.S. Women's Open, Ridgewells Catering of Bethesda, Md., asked Stroup to supply more than 1,600 bottles of salad dressing for the golf tournaments.
Stroup, a former stay-at-home mom, makes four flavors of dressings that are sold in specialty grocery stores: Dreamy Creamy Vinaigrette; Honey, It's Dijon Dill; It Takes Three To Tango; and Far East Flair.
Stroup said getting products into grocery stores is difficult for a small manufacturer like herself. But she's thankful to the Piedmont Triad community for supporting her.
And she hints that there are more dressing flavors in her future.
"I'm pretty busy with these four, but I do have some things up my sleeve," she said.