Local sea salt company in the running for Martha Stewart award

PortCityDaily.com is your source for free news and information in the Wilmington area.

Sea Love Sea Salt is a finalist in Martha Stewart's American Made contest that highlights handmade wares and artisan entrepreneurs. Courtesy photo.
Sea Love Sea Salt is a finalist in Martha Stewart’s American Made contest that highlights handmade wares and artisan entrepreneurs. Courtesy photo.

A local company has garnered the attention of a national home and lifestyle icon.

Borne from the waters of Wrightsville Beach, Sea Love Sea Salt Co. is now in the running for Martha Stewart’s American Made competition.

The online contest celebrates artisan entrepreneurs and small businesses that focus on the handmade.

Amanda Jacobs’ fledgling but explosively popular sea salt business is in the running to be the best of the best in the Food category, going up against a Minnesota dog bakery, a Brooklyn-based white rum distillery and dozens of other creative makers in between.

Winners in each category, which also include Crafts, Design and Style, will be determined by voters between now and Oct. 23, when awards will be announced. As of Tuesday afternoon, Sea Love Sea Salt have garnered nearly 2,000 votes. Click here to cast a ballot.

What started as an at-home experiment to make sea salt has, in less than two years, spread so far so fast that Jacobs recently had to expand her business to a remote farm on the outer edges of Burgaw to keep up with demand for her infused salts and scrubs.

She started out selling at local farmers markets and to a local upscale eatery. Now, Sea Love is in 15 area restaurants, as well as a handful of gourmet shops in the Port City and the Triangle area. She still routinely sets up at farmers markets in Wrightsville Beach, Carolina Beach and Poplar Grove. And Sea Love is sold in three Whole Foods stores–Wilmington, Cary and North Raleigh.

“Sea Love Sea Salt is different in that we take our time to create a quality product,” Jacobs said. “We could boil or bake our salt in a matter of hours, but we choose to take two to four weeks in production to create a superior salt.”

Sea Love Sea Salt Co. owner Amanda Jacobs places labels on her products. Jacobs recently purchased a warehouse in Burgaw to manage growing production demands. Photo by Hilary Snow.
Sea Love Sea Salt Co. owner Amanda Jacobs places labels on her products. Jacobs recently purchased a warehouse in Burgaw to manage growing production demands. Photo by Hilary Snow.

This summer, Jacobs ran a successful Kickstarter campaign to raise $15,000 for the construction of a larger greenhouse–needed for the solar evaporation process she uses to make her products–as well as solar panels and a drying room to help squeeze out remaining moisture from the salt.

While continuing to expand, Jacobs has kept the homegrown feel of her business. In her new warehouse, Jacobs still fills all Sea Love containers by hand, sifting out cinnamon-infused scrubs and cocktail salt made with dried fruit zest, among others. She heat seals the lids by hand before putting on the Sea Love labels.

She grows the garlic and rosemary for her flavored salts at home but hopes to soon have an onsite garden. She even sells a “pinch” tin–a small on-the-go container of salt that fits inside your purse or pocket.

Staying away from a factory operation is crucial to Jacobs because, at heart, Sea Love is a pursuit inspired by culinary passion.

“Someone asked me…which is my favorite, and I always will say it’s the garlic salt because I love it. It’s so good. And that’s what they bought. People really listen. They can hear it, that I love it,” she said. “Because I really am passionate about it. There is nothing I’ve put out there that I’m not thrilled about.”

Hilary Snow is a reporter at Port City Daily. Reach her at hilary.s@portcitydaily.com.