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The Plucked
Story

Hi, I'm Kelly!

Starting a fresh salsa business was never the plan

This was not the plan.

There really wasn’t a plan I guess, but if there was ever going to be a plan it wasn’t to start our own salsa business.

This came out of nowhere.

Around 2010, I was working at my dream to be a singer in the Portland, Maine area. I loved the local music scene there and was having a great time singing with the band Sly-Chi.

However, falling in love and deciding to leave touring behind to settle down and start a family, became a new goal.

Kelly McKenna and Sly-Chi
Kelly with Sly-Chi
Kelly McKenna Plucked display

Making the salsa a lifestyle

I began making salsa years ago when I decided to start a healthier lifestyle. All of the healthy food that I was making tasted bland and I wanted something to pair with those foods that would taste great, and would be guilt free.

So, I transitioned to a 9 to 5 job and started to make and share the salsa for myself, friends and family. I found myself working in the insurance industry for MEMIC where friends and co-workers would ask me to make the fresh salsa for them.

After the birth of my son Wyatt in 2013, I returned to work and declared to my salsa friends – “no more salsa, all I am making lately is babies.”

Kelly's son Wyatt

One Facebook post changed everything

On the 4th of July weekend, 2013 – I posted a picture of the salsa I made on my Facebook page and jokingly wrote “My first orders of salsa, I hope they like it!”

Friends and coworkers immediately started reaching out to me to make salsa for them. I insisted that the post was completely intended as a joke.

But…they were persistent and kept asking for it, which got me thinking.

So… I caved and said, “give me some cash and I will go buy a ton of tomatoes and bring you in a big jar so you will leave me alone.”

After a couple of my friends came by and left money on my desk, that was it. A business was born!

The demand got to be so much that I would put my son to bed then make salsa late into the night. My husband Jay and I would spend our lunch breaks delivering salsa to people’s doorsteps. 

Original Homemade Plucked Salsa Containers
The first salsa order
The original Plucked Containers

The ultimate leap of faith

After a few months of doing this, we decided to take the ultimate leap of faith.

And so, as the orders came rolling in, the idea of leaving my job to stay home with my son and build this business became a possibility.

And because of the success that we have had so far… that possibility became a reality.

So, I quit my job in corporate America early in January 2014 to build a commercial kitchen in the basement of our home. Within 6 months we had over 5000 orders!

Moving the kitchen

By the end of 2015, an old friend from the music industry Chris Fawcett joined on as my Business Partner.

From there, we moved into FORK FOOD LAB collaborative commercial kitchen to keep up with the ever-growing demand for our Plucked Fresh Salsa.

Sharing that space with so many other great local Portland food companies was the experience of a lifetime.

We truly took off from there!

The original Plucked Kitchen

Portland salsa maker joins Coast 93.1 morning radio show

On the air at Maine’s Coast 93.1 !

In December 2019, one of my favorite local stations Coast 93.1 staged a contest looking for listeners to fill in for on-air host Eva Matteson while she was on vacation.

I sent in a video submission and was picked as a fill-in. I figured it would be so much fun to give it a shot and a great way to talk about Plucked Fresh Salsa on-air with Eva’s co-host Blake Hayes.

Never in my wildest dreams did I anticipate that this would eventually become an everyday part of my life but in March of 2020, it did. I am not going to lie, it has taken a lot to balance my two work schedules while maintaining my family life, not to mention my sanity!

Growth against the backdrop of COVID

Plucked Fresh Salsa Production

Just before the world-changing pandemic Chris and I had decided that to continue to be able to meet the growing demand for our salsa that we may need some help and DEFINITELY needed more space.

We were shipping salsa out as fast as we could make it and still running out of shelf space! So, one morning on the way into the station I texted our friend Josh who owned the marketing company we were using for our food demos at the time to see if he may know anyone that may be interested in becoming our partner. He immediately texted back, yeah, me, give me a call. Not only was this nut up at 4 AM he was completely on board!

 Over that summer we found and built out our very own production facility right here in Portland. A place we could finally call home. The last year-plus has been an absolute whirlwind but hey, this was never the plan!space

Plucked Salsa was born!

To say I am utterly thankful, and proud is not saying enough.

As we grow, we are committed to the same values Plucked was founded upon – fresh, delicious salsa with all natural ingredients, naturally low in calories, and packed with tons of flavor. It truly is totally fresh! With no crazy ingredients, and we believe it’s just delicious.

We hope you enjoy eating the salsa as much as we have enjoyed creating it!

Enjoy!
Kelly Towle

Kelly and Jay Towle in Front of Plucked Fresh Salsa Containers
Jason & Kelly Towle

The Plucked Team

kelly&jay

Kelly Towle

Founder & Owner

A lifelong New Englander Kelly started Pluck fresh Salsa in 2014. Kelly still oversees all aspects of Plucked Fresh Salsa, but she can also be heard Monday through Friday from 5 AM to 10 AM as the co-host of the Blake Show on Coast 93.1 where many of their loyal listeners have also become loyal buyers of her fresh salsa.

When she is not working, Kelly enjoys spending time with her husband and their two children. She also loves taking trips up to her family’s house on Moosehead Lake and has also been known to still squeeze in some singing when she can.

Josh Black

Josh Black

Marketing & Owner

Josh a lifelong resident of Maine came on board in 2020 after 8 years in the experiential marketing field. He promptly took on the responsibility of overseeing the buildout of our new production facility affectionately known as the Salsa Shack.

Over the last year he has sat in on sales calls, worked in production, and even driven our forklift to bring himself up to speed with the day-to-day operations of Plucked Fresh Salsa. Now having had a chance to wear the many hats that go into running our small business he is looking forward to marketing our brand to a whole new generation of fresh salsa fans.

Josh loves to be outside enjoying all Maine has to offer. In the summer he can often be found on Casco Bay with friends and family as a member of the Freedom Boat Club. When not on the water he enjoys attending his niece and nephews sporting events.

Christopher Fawcett

Christopher Fawcett

Director of Operations & Owner

Chris grew up living in the south and after high school headed north to attend the University of Maine where he studied civil engineering. After UMO, he moved to Portland to start his career and continue his love of music by playing bass guitar in several popular local bands. In 2009 he decided to head west to live in Colorado.

Always feeling drawn back to Maine, he decided to make it official and move back in 2015. Shortly after moving back, he jumped onboard as Kelly’s business partner in Plucked Fresh Salsa. These days he runs the show at the Salsa Shack where our team produces and ships the freshest salsa going.

When he is not making things hum along at the shop, Chris likes to travel with his wife, play a little golf (and bass) as well as spending time with family and friends at his house on Little Sebago Lake.