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The business won a competition, and now, it’s helping to revitalize a south side neighborhood

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- It is a job most people associate with the past, but a new business on Milwaukee's south side is bringing woodworking back into people's kitchens -- and it all started with an estimate that was too expensive.

Located in a nondescript building near 35th and National is one of Milwaukee's newest and most unique businesses.

Felicia Wild is a woodworker.

"I'm a trained chef, so I kinda stick with things that go well with food," Wild said.

But it wasn't food alone that got Wild to where she is today. Wild discovered her talent out of necessity.

"A couple years ago, my partner and I bought a house on the north side of Milwaukee and from there, we wanted to remodel our kitchen and we found out we couldn`t afford to have the contractors come in and do the work for us, so we decided to take on the project ourselves and through that process, we found out we were pretty good as using the tools," Wild said.

With those skills, Wild didn't have to pay for repairs -- or gifts!

"We made everything that Christmas for all the family -- so everybody got a cutting board that Christmas and from there, we started selling them one at a time," Wild said.

That's how "Our Daily Salt" was born, but it's difficult to run a woodworking shop out of a basement. As Wild's expansion plans started to take shape, the Layton Boulevard West Neighborhoods (LBWN) looked to renovate a vacant storefront in the Silver City neighborhood.

In March of 2013, LBWN announced a competition. 28 potential entrepreneurs submitted business plans -- hoping to win a $5,000 start-up grant.

Economic Development Manager Natenael Martinez says Wild's plan stood out immediately.

"We knew soon enough they were gonna be creating new jobs, that this was a perfect fit for the Silver City neighborhood and on top of that, it was gonna add something new to our commercial corridor," Martinez said.

"Eventually, our enthusiasm for what we were doing and the fact we were working this plan already - I think that won them over," Wild said.

It took almost a year to convert the space into "Our Daily Salt." With the business finally open to the public, Wild can finally take a step back and appreciate her journey.

"It is, I think, miraculous. It`s a testament to all the people that have helped us get to this point," Wild said.

The front of the store features the work of various local artists. LBWN hopes that inviting nature will help it carve out space for other entrepreneurs.

"It shows this is an area, that given the right kind of TLC on some of the buildings that we have, you can transform some of these properties into these beautiful spaces," Martinez said.

Wild says she believes her business sends the right message to anyone with a dream -- especially ones that are still a work in progress.

"Sometimes your passion isn`t always what you think it is. A couple years ago, I didn`t think woodwork would be my passion," Wild said.

The money for the start-up grant came from the Zilber Family Foundation.

CLICK HERE to learn more about "Our Daily Salt."

CLICK HERE to learn more about the Layton Boulevard West Neighborhoods organization.


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