Jennifer Gomez, who co-owns Sawatch Artisan Foods with her husband, Tim Gomez, says that the products they sell have to be perfect, using no shortcuts or compromises.
Jennifer and her son, Josiah Gomez, can be found weekly selling their products at the Backyard Market in Black Forest on Saturdays this summer. Eighteen-year-old Josiah is learning the family business, and helping out with a variety of tasks.
Their farm-to-table products include European-style sweet cream salted and unsalted butter, cheese curds, and two kinds of cheeses — Gouda and Lamphier.
The butter they produce and sell is “creamy, and the only European butter [sold] within thousands of miles of here … It’s more flavorful … You almost get spoiled when you start using it,” Jennifer Gomez said.
The butter boasts a higher butter fat content, and “patiently cultured” cream. It can be frozen up to 12 months, or refrigerated up to 6 months.
The Gomez family started their business in Colorado in 2018. Jennifer said they decided that their enterprise could either be big or small, but there was no place in between for them. Their decision was to focus on quality rather than quantity, keeping their products fresh and locally made.
By April of this year, they were ready to start sales within the Colorado Springs community. Unfortunately, as everyone knows, this was when COVID-19 was hitting businesses hard. One of their first customers was Colorado Springs’ Sourdough Boulangerie Bakery, which uses Sawatch Artisan butter for baking. Business quickly exploded, and the Gomez’s also began selling through online sales and at farmers markets.
Currently, they are at work on facility at 2201 Hagerman St. (80904).
It is being gutted and completely renovated with a scheduled opening as Sawatch Artisan Foods in early 2021. The business will sell it’s products retail there, and the hope is to expand by offering new products, tastings, and launching tours for school groups. Plans for new products include high quality soft-serve and regular ice cream, and Hispanic-style and Italian cheeses,
Tim Gomez is the brains behind the agricultural operation, according to his wife. He has been involved in agriculture his entire career and is the original inventor of Fair Life Milk, an ultra-filtered milk. In 2012, Tim Gomez started Kansas Dairy Ingredients in Hugoton, Kansas. The goal was to “collaborate, customize, and create.” The focus of KDI is healthy, natural dairy products using environmental initiatives.
“My husband understands the milk,” Jennifer Gomez said.
Most Sawatch Artisan Food products are being made at a facility across the road from KDI with the freshest milk possible that is delivered from area dairy farms daily. Once the new facility is completed, the bulk of the manufacturing process will be moved to Colorado Springs. This ensures that the highest quality standards will continue to be met.
Jennifer Gomez started her career in nursing, eventually moving into sales and consulting for a large healthcare consulting firm. She eventually left this career to become the Director of Strategy for Sawatch Artisan Foods. She wears many hats that include expansion, sales and marketing, farmers market direct sales, and enthusiastic cheerleader.
Typically products sell out at the four farmers markets where Sawatch Artisan Foods are sold: Black Forest, Parker, Cañon City and downtown Colorado Springs. These communities are overwhelmingly supportive of buying fresh and local products.
During the pandemic samples cannot be provided, but customers have been willing to purchase enticing products and try them out. Jennifer estimates that 80% of their business is from returning customers, and she frequently welcomes repeat patrons whose names and faces she now recognizes. One customer was overheard opining: “We love her butter!” ... we used it last week to make scones.”
The products sell themselves, she said. Online 2-day orders are shipped in insulated packaging complete with ice packs to maintain freshness. Jennifer personally delivers to wholesale customers, local bakeries, restaurants and neighborhood markets.
What advice does Jennifer Gomez have for anyone starting up a cottage industry: “Stay consistent. Believe in your products. Make it the best you can, and it will sell itself!” She also focuses on listening to her customers, connecting with them and bringing something unique to the community.