Family duo sees success with sea salt business

For Arcadia resident Jessica Helgeson, creating elegant meals with simple ingredients has been a longtime passion, cultivated distinctly by her mother.

Jessica grew up in Portland and remembers her teenage years when junk food and potato chips were always on her mind. It was the ’90s and while the other kids were filling up on processed foods, Jessica’s mother refused to fill her cabinets or her children’s bellies with such waste.

“My sister and I would look in the refrigerator and say, ‘Mom! There is nothing to eat!’” said Jessica. “But my mom would always look at us and say, ‘Now girls, you can always find something beautiful.’”

Jessica’s mother, Terri Mapel, was a single mom. She was working two and sometimes three jobs to support her daughters and saw the food her children craved as an unnecessary evil to both their health and her wallet. For her girls it was hard to understand, but decades later Jessica has incredible respect for her mother’s early lessons.

“Eating healthy, sustainable food was part of my mom’s motto before it became popular,” said Jessica. “And food presentation was always important to her.”

Jessica’s mom prepared simple, fresh and beautiful meals for her girls, even while trying to stretch her paycheck.

“She would cook us a steak, not the most expensive cut of meat but a good piece of meat, and then put it on a plate with sliced tomatoes and a colorful flower. She made every meal feel special,” said Jessica.

When it came time for Jessica to head off to college, Arizona State University was an easy choice for a girl who wanted to trade cloudy skies for an abundance of sunshine. Her mother, who would now have two grown daughters out of the house, was looking for a bit of change as well.

“My mom wanted sunshine too!” said Jessica. “So we both packed up and moved.”

Once in Arizona, the women built their individual lives. Jessica went on to become a labor and delivery nurse, meet the love of her life, and have two children.

It was while pregnant with her second child, two years ago, that Jessica and Terri decided to join forces with their love of healthy eating.

“We used our love of healthy, simple recipes, combined with styling and presentation and developed seesalttv.com,” said Jessica.

Seesalttv.com began as a blog and YouTube channel that combined healthy recipes and how-to cooking videos. The videos included Jessica and her growing family, demonstrating easy, yet nutritional food preparation.

“As our content on the site grew, we decided to launch a product that was a key ingredient in our cooking,” said Jessica. “Finishing salt isn’t anything new… but we want to change people’s perception about its use.”

The See Salt Fluer de Sel is a 100-percent natural, hand-raked salt from France. The women sampled an abundance of salts before finally deciding on their product.

Jessica explained that finishing salt tends to have a stigma of being fancy. With See Salt, the women want local home cooks and foodies to see finishing salt as something you use every day, to accentuate the flavor of every ingredient.

“So far, we’ve had great success showing people how a simple pinch of premium salt can completely change what you are eating,” said Jessica. “We have people say they will never use another salt on their food again.”

For Jessica, creating a product and a business out of something she is so passionate about has been a satisfying endeavor. Being able to work with her mother, however, has been the most important part.

“I love that this is something we’ve created together,” said Jessica. “I can’t think of a better business partner than my mom. It is really incredible.”

To find out more about See Salt or for recipes and videos, go to seesalttv.com.