When we linked up with Helki Zeigler-Bruzzone, I was deliciously impressed. You’ll love this interview– Helki is carrying on a family tradition of sausage making, and she’s a straight shooter with a positive point of view. Enjoy!
please introduce yourself.
My name is Helki Zeigler-Bruzzone and I live in Lakewood, CA. Born and raised in Seattle, I’ve lived in SoCal since ’97 and consider myself to be a full-fledged “Californian”.
I have many hobbies, but my two passions in life are travel and food. I’ve been fortunate enough to eat my way through a lot of beautiful countries and their cities; Italy, Germany, France, Holland, Thailand, and Vietnam to name a few. I find that food is the best way to truly experience one’s culture: the spices, ingredients, environment and method of preparation all work together to tell a diverse story of who they really are.
I was a senior level marketing executive for more than 15 years, most recently at a software organization. In late 2012, I hung up my corporate hat to pursue my passion in food.
what do you make or do?
As the owner of Zeigler’s Sausages, I make delicious, handmade artisanal sausages in a variety of flavors. A lot of people ask me “Why sausage, of all things?” to which I often reply, “Well why not – a good sausage is hard to find!”
In all seriousness though, I grew up making sausage. My parents had a very small side business – Distinctive Sausages by Zeigler – when I was young, and I often helped with production, clean-up, etc. As a child of the east coast, my dad was heavily influenced by the foods of many different cultures, and that played a huge part in the launch of their sausage business. He was also very fortunate to be personally mentored in the craft of “old-world” sausage making by Rytek Kutas, a man who is considered to be somewhat of a legend in this industry. His book – Great Sausage Recipes and Meat Curing – is considered to be the “bible” of sausage making by many, myself included.
where can we find your creations?
Zeigler’s Sausages are currently available for sale at the Downey Farmer’s Market every Saturday from 9am -1pm (11039 Downey Ave., Downey, CA) as well as via our web stand at Good Eggs LA . We also offer product at local events – such as Patchwork! – on a regular basis. To keep up to date, folks can subscribe to our email newsletter or check the locations page of our website often.
how long have you been creating, and is it your full-time job?
As a child/teenager, I worked in the family sausage business. As an adult, I started toying with the idea of revisiting a business venture based around food/sausage making about 3-4 years ago. I’ve always wanted to do my own thing – be the master of my own destiny, so to speak. However, I knew that in order for it to achieve the success I wanted, it was going to have to be my entire focus. So I saved my money, left my corporate job in September 2012, and started working toward making my dream a reality. Zeigler’s Sausages officially launched almost a year later in August 2013.
what obstacles have you had to overcome to lead a creative life?
I’ve never really looked at anything as an obstacle per se – I’ve just had lots of periods of growth. As an example, having the courage to leave the safety of a full time – and well-paying – job, and being mature enough to take on all of the responsibilities that a full-time business entails. Money is a key factor as well –first, saving enough of it to get started, and now making enough to sustain and grow the business.
what inspiring advice would you give to other creatives, be they established or just starting out?
There will always be a lot of naysayers – those that say you’ll never make money, who question your sanity, and who, in general, don’t understand the growth that comes from leaving the corporate security blanket behind and stepping out on your own. Always keep in mind two things: 1. Your life is meant to be lived the way you want to live it, and you should live it without fear; 2. Embrace naysayers with open arms because guess what – that’s less competition for you!