With a passion for bringing people together and connecting over food, young entrepreneur Abigail Schlesinger was determined to forge her own path and not let her age (or even a global pandemic) stop her from building her business, Charcuterie Collective.
It all started with a family vacation. Abigail’s aunt was tasked with making dinner one night and when Abigail walked into the kitchen and saw the assortment of meats and cheeses, it was love at first sight. Since that day, she began experimenting with creating her own boards and posting them on her personal social media accounts. Almost instantly she was flooded with direct messages from friends and other admirers asking her to make boards for their events.
As a 16-year-old, navigating a space where other vendors were almost always 10 years older than Abigail was a challenge when first starting the business. She had to find a way to manage being on multiple sports teams, senior class president, and a busy social schedule, but she never let her age stand in the way of exceeding expectations.
“I’ve learned that [being young] is a good thing, and that’s what makes me unique. I’m in situations where I’m surrounded by a bunch of entrepreneurs who are so well-seasoned in the industry. I’ve learned to overcome that, but also take it as a challenge to be able to step up and show them what teenagers can do,” says Abigail.
Three years later, Abigail is still making boards full-time as she completes her degree at Grand Canyon University. Her business has always been a family affair. With help from her mom, dad, brother and friends (who she says have now become family), Abigail said her business wouldn’t have had the opportunity to grow without each and every one of their efforts.
Charcuterie Collective offers three main services. The first is creating both boards and grazing tables for events, like baby showers, birthday parties, weddings and more. Grazing tables are something that makes Abigail’s business unique and can feed between 30 to 40 people at large events. Charcuterie Collective also offers an online, self-paced class that teaches people how to make boards using Abigail’s curated shopping list and a handful of charcuterie-making techniques and tips. In Phoenix and Salt Lake City, groups can also hire Abigail and her team to teach private in-person classes. The different services allow people the chance to slow down and interact with one another.
“In such a hurried society, everyone is becoming so isolated and separate. We love that [Charcuterie Collective] helps people get together and celebrate. Even if they’re celebrating a life and it’s a sad event, it’s really nice to be able to go in and just take the burden off that family,” says Lindsay Schlesinger, Abigail’s mom and one of Charcuterie Collective’s directors of operation.
The team offers a number of different personalizations for both grazing tables and boards. The most common include their Brie cutouts and white porcelain letters. After many years of experimenting with different combinations, the team listens to customer feedback in order to adapt their offerings. Another way they switch things up is by incorporating seasonal items from Trader Joe’s, like autumnal cheeses and fruits.
One of Charcuterie Collective’s secret weapons is their jams. Lindsay started making homemade jam as a hobby during the pandemic. It has evolved into an integral part of their charcuterie-making. With flavors from strawberry lemonade to spicy mango habanero, there is something for everyone to enjoy.
“I’m super grateful because our whole business is based on the idea of community and with that we wanted to create a space where people could foster community without having the stress of food and all of that. We figure with an event, [with our service] they can genuinely enjoy their community and have their people over and gather together without all the stresses that come with hosting,” says Abigail.
Photos courtesy Charcuterie Collective