Jennifer Knoetgen // Mountain Meat Shares

It’s not a stretch to say that, for me, biting into my first Montana-grown, locally-butchered pork chop was like a religious experience.

Jennifer Knoetgen knows that feeling better than pretty much anyone. An accountant by trade but a homesteader by choice, she started Mountain Meat Shares as a passion project. It wasn’t long before it became something bigger.

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Now, Jennifer serves families in the Missoula area with boxes of local chicken, beef, and pork on a subscription basis. Her customers are well-fed, have a smaller carbon footprint, and know where their meat comes from.

On the Mountain Meat Shares website, Jennifer says that one of her most basic beliefs is that “farm animals, while their ultimate fate might well be your table, should live their lives peacefully, with their needs met, and their days spent outdoors as much as possible.”

What more could you possibly want from your dinner?

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Jennifer sprays down the pig pen so they can create their own wallow to keep cool in the summer.

 

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Here’s Jennifer herself to tell you more about how she moves the world.


BB: You’re a farmer. Was that an unexpected part of your career path or were you always heading that direction?

JK: I think I would call myself a homesteader since the food we grow here at our place in Arlee, Montana is mostly for our own household and not for commercial purposes. I grew up next to my grandparents’ farm and spent my days taking care of animals and always knowing where my food came from.

I developed a deep satisfaction of caring for animals by learning from the practices of animal husbandry from my grandparents.

[They] were Slovenian immigrants and grew nearly all of the food we ate. By the time I came along, they were retired from dairy farming, but we still had a few pigs each year, raised calves for resale, had our own milk, butter, vegetables and fruit, eggs, chicken, and beef. The farm was tidy, the animals clean and happy. I learned that their daily care came first, and it was hard work, but even as a kid, it felt satisfying. We didn’t waste and butchered all of our own animals. When I think back, I have been slaughtering meat chickens since I was probably eight years old!

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One of Jennifer’s Plymouth Rock barred chickens. Her chickens eat kitchen scraps and insects and lay brown eggs.

BB: What led you to create Mountain Meat Shares?

JK:  When friends and visitors to my farm saw how happy and healthy our meat animals were, they just intuitively wanted to have a part of it. I couldn’t commercially produce that kind of volume, and so sourcing the animals from farmers I trust and have a relationship with was a way for me to deliver that food to others.

BB: Mountain Meat Shares is a CSA. What does that mean?

JK: CSA stands for community-supported agriculture. In most cases, it means a customer is making an investment in and taking a risk with the farmer in the upcoming growing season.

There are a variety of ways a CSA can be configured. I would say MMS is like a  CSA in that we are sourcing whole animals from the farmers and the customer isn’t choosing specific cuts or varieties as you would buy at a grocery.

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Jennifer has two goats, Willow and Mina. Willow and Mina will soon be old enough to breed and produce milk. For now, they enjoy eating raspberries and following Jennifer around the farm.

BB: Do you think CSAs are the future of food?

JK: Not likely. There is too much demand by the larger population for choice, convenience, and price. But I do think that the changes and awareness that small, local farms bring will influence customer behavior and future demands of the large food systems.

BB: What differences would people notice if they replaced their mass-produced meat with locally-grown products?

JK: Taste! Animals [raised] outdoors as much as possible, on pasture under the sun, absorb the nutrients from our soil, stretch their muscles the way they were designed to, and just taste better.

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If you live in the Missoula area, subscribe to Mountain Meat Shares here.

BB: What can we all do to reduce our carbon footprint with our food?

JK: Don’t waste! So much energy, water, transportation, land use and carbon goes into our food, and as households, we throw so much of it away. I’m planning a blog post about this soon because I think I’m hardwired to despise waste and wasting food — at all levels of production, distribution, and consumption– just doesn’t make sense.

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BB: What’s it like to turn a passion project into a business?

JK: Fun and exciting. It’s invigorating to take something I’m passionate about — local food — and bring it to the marketplace to actually help families make the farm-to-table connection.

BB: What’s your favorite part of entrepreneurship?

JK: Making all of the decisions myself. Be they good or bad, they’re all mine!

BB: You’re a horsewoman. Is that what you like to do with your free time?

JK: Yes! I have been involved with horses my whole life and they are a challenge but I also have a deeply satisfying relationship with them.

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Riding is one of the ways I connect to the wilderness and take in the seasons and the wildlife that surrounds us.

Although I have had many limitations to my involvement with horses over the years, it’s something I just can’t not do.

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Jennifer and her Arabian gelding, Highlander.
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Highlander wears a fly mask to protect his eyes from insects.

BB: What inspires you?

JK: People working hard outside of the box.

I have little tolerance for excuses and following the herd, so when I meet people making efforts to better their lives, in whatever way that might be for them, I am inspired.

BB:  What makes you feel like a badass?

JK: Bucking the norms and working hard and being resourceful.

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Jennifer grew a patch of wildflowers in her front yard to attract pollinators like honeybees.

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BB: What’s your dream trivia category?

JK: Substitute ingredients.

BB: Like?

JK: On occasion, if a dessert calls for just a small amount of heavy cream, I’ll use half and half. Certainly walnuts in pesto instead of pine nuts.

BB: Is there anything else you would like to add?

JK: Thank you for inviting me!

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Jennifer often rides her Arabian mare, Sundance, into the nearby mountains.

Contact Jennifer at 406.880.3083 or at info@mountainmeatshares.com


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Author Micah Larsen is a persuasion scientist and consultant. Her job is to teach people how to use subtle persuasion in their emails, conversations, and campaigns to get others to say “yes.”

Watch one of her short persuasion how-to videos of $9.97 value for free here using code:

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The Ladies of Blue Marble

Y’know what’s more inspiring than one badass, innovative woman?

Nine badass, innovative women.

I’m talking about the ladies of Blue Marble Biomaterials, a research and development company that makes products out of plants and where six of the ten STEM leadership positions are filled by women.

As if that wasn’t enough, Blue Marble is also home to Bearhat Beverages, an eco-friendly beverage company that produces a fermented tonic water so sparkly and delicious it’ll knock your d*** socks off. 

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Bearhat, Co.’s signature brew contains live cultures and a whole lot of lemony, herbaceous fizz.

How could a biomaterial company create a fermented tonic, you may ask? Because it’s chock-full of gutsy, badass scientists and business gurus, that’s how.

And here they are to tell you a little more about how they move the world:

 

From top left: Rheanna Dorman, 35, Business Development & Marketing Executive; Coral Main, 27, Accounting Manager; Breana Pabst, 27, Chemical Engineer; Amanda Slater, 32, Vice President of Development; Kellie Hefstetter, Administrative Assistant; Katie Kettler, 25, Analytical Scientist / Quality Technician; Rachael Kropp, 29, Quality Control / Quality Assurance; Allison Wittkopp, 24, Biochemical Engineer; Franny Gilman, 29, Vice President of Research & Development


BB: What makes you feel like a badass?

AW: The look on people’s faces when I tell them my degrees and what I get to do for a living. A lot of older people don’t seem to expect a girl my age to have two engineering degrees. It always makes me grin when I see a look of surprise!

BP: I feel like a badass when I am able to solve problems or overcome challenges that once seemed very difficult. It’s a great feeling when you’re finally able to reach a goal or solution that you’ve put a lot of work into.

CM: Blue Marble is this little company in Montana that these huge food companies come to with the problems they can’t solve and ask us to figure it out for them. And we’re pretty successful at it!

I’ve done so much in my five years with Blue Marble that a lot of people never experience in my field in twice that time and I’m very proud that I’ve come out the other side with that knowledge and knowing how much of an asset I can be.

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BB: How do you feel female scientists are represented? 

AW: I’m lucky to say I’ve had great experiences being a female scientist. The College of Engineering at Montana State was always encouraging, inclusive and fair, in my opinion, and now I work with a bunch of awesome ladies in science as well. It makes me sad to know that others have not had pleasant experiences, but I do think it’s getting better. And I consider myself lucky to have had all the opportunities I’ve had in the [STEM] fields.

KK: I feel like women in STEM fields are getting better recognition, but things still need to improve. While I think women in science are being promoted more through social media, men are still getting more formal recognition.

RK: Women scientists — and women professionals in general — have received a lot more visibility within the last year or two because of smart and funny social media campaigns.  We’re able to connect and share experiences through hashtags like #womeninscience and #distractinglysexy

FG: In the general public, female scientists are gaining more support, but in order to create equal opportunities and to maintain a diverse work-force, we need more support.

Women frequently leave the workforce and academia. A system needs to be put in place that allows us and prepares us to flourish even if we’d like to start a family and continue working while doing so.

BB: How did you end up at Blue Marble?

RK: I applied to Blue Marble about 4 years ago because I was looking for a research and science-based job in a Missoula.  They hired me on and I’ve never looked back.

BP: After graduating and spending a fair amount of time being a ski bum and traveling, I wanted to work for a company that did meaningful and interesting work and also gave me the opportunity to live in a place with ample access to outdoor activities. I was drawn to Blue Marble’s commitment to sustainability and past work with algal biofuels. I reached out to Blue Marble and was lucky that a position opened up not too long after that.

BB: Montana has been recognized as one of the most entrepreneurial states in the country. What has been your experience with the entrepreneurial community?

BP: It’s cool to see new companies starting in Montana, especially in the tech field. We work with a few other companies in the area, and it’s great to be able to share knowledge and capabilities to help us all succeed.

KK: No matter what we or other companies are doing, we are all trying to redefine the status quo. It encourages collaboration and unique approaches to problems.

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BB: When you aren’t working hard breaking glass ceilings in the STEM world, what do you do for fun?

RD: Well, first of all, I don’t believe that I’m personally breaking the glass ceiling, but I do encourage and support the women that I work with who are STEM leaders to share their own stories and spark the movement within our own community. For fun though, I enjoy hiking and biking the Rattlesnake area with my two young boys. Or visiting Montana’s sweet ski hills to teach my kids to snowboard!

RK: In my spare time I enjoy skiing, fixing broken toilets in dive bars, eating pizza, and riding my bike around town.

BB: What motivates you?

FG: Learning new things about microbiology! I’m fascinated by the “unseen” world. As well as working towards a goal of becoming a strong, female leader.

RD: First of all, I am in a place that values me and where I get to bring my whole self to work every day! Also, knowing that my role in this organization’s ecosystem has a positive impact on our client’s businesses and their consumer’s health and environment.

Like what you’ve read so far? Join persuasion scientist Micah Larsen‘s mailing list and get free persuasion tips and Badasserie updates.

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BB: What do you think our world would be like if people had a better understanding of and appreciation for science?

RD: My perspective as a parent has altered my own appreciation for science. I get to witness the pure excitement and joy my son expresses when he works on a science experiment or when we watch old episodes of Bill Nye the Science Guy. His innocent reactions impact the way I now view science. So, I guess if everyone experienced science the way I’m experiencing with my six-year-old, then I would say the world would probably look something like Disney’s Tomorrowland!

AS: We’d all be vaccinated and investing in clean energy.

KK: To me, science is about collaboration and revisiting established ideas. Just because something has worked in the past doesn’t mean it is the most efficient process or even the correct way of understanding a concept anymore. It is a constantly evolving field. I believe that if more people had a better appreciation for science, there would be more encouragement for funding across all STEM fields.

Science allows us to understand the world around us and people should be interested in it.

BB: What inspires you these days?

FG: The strong women I surround myself with continue to inspire me, like my co-workers, friends, and family members. They motivate me to continue to work hard so that women are represented in leadership and decision-making roles.

RK: Lately I’ve been inspired by Janelle Monae’s latest album.  She put down some really badass tracks and visuals about women, power, and her experiences with both.

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BB: What’s your dream trivia category?

CM: Harry Potter, for sure.

AW:  Disney movies and/or soundtracks. I crush it every time. I am not ashamed of this knowledge.

BB: Is there anything else you would like to add?

RD: I love my job!

AS: Go out and grab a P&C Tonic!

 

 


Want to get your hand on a bottle (or a case) of Bearhat Co.’s finest wares? Find yours here.

Stir up a Bearcat-recommended cocktail with one of their signature recipes here.

Mallory Ottariano // Kind Apparel

Mallory is a mover and a shaker. And as a mover and a shaker, she needed clothes that could move and shake, too, so she created Kind Apparel, a women’s adventure clothing company based out of Missoula, Montana.

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Mallory is wearing a Fjord dress of her own design. Get yours here.

Kind Apparel isn’t your run-of-the-mill clothing company (though her clothes are perfect for the runners among us). Mallory designs her own fabrics as inspired by nature and printed on recycled material made from plastic bottles.

Here’s Mallory herself to tell you more about how she moves the world:

BB: Tell me about Kind Apparel.

MO: Kind Apparel is a small women’s adventure clothing company. We design and make colorful and functional wearables for the outdoor-ist in you that are focused on celebrating the uniqueness of every woman. Our fabrics are what make our products special! Everything is made from stretchy Lycra that’s made from recycled plastic bottles and printed with my own graphics and artwork.

There is not a single solid colored fabric in our offerings and everything is very bold and very bright. Think psychedelic moonscapes, citrus fruits, paisleys, water reflections, and succulents.

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Kind Apparel skorts are designed for running, swimming, hiking, and backpacking.

BB: What do you do when you’re not working on Kind stuff?

MO: Honestly, these days I’m working most of the time, but I do make time for exercise every day, whether that’s in the gym or on a run during the week or a ski tour or bike ride on the weekends. I try to fit in as much skiing as I can during the winter/spring, and I play soccer all year round.

In the evenings, you can find me out on a Missoula trail taking my dog for a walk with my fiancê! I love to be in motion, whether that’s physically or just tackling many activities during a busy day. So when I’m not working, I’m usually moving in some capacity.

BB: What drew you to design specifically for women?

MO: Personal experience. I believe we can design best for ourselves, so as a woman it’s easy for me to know what is wanted and needed in the market. I also think — although this is certainly changing — that there is a significant lack of functional and technical yet cute clothing out there. Most women’s outdoor clothing tends to be available in frumpy fits and bland colors and I wanted to change that to include the colorful prints of lots of casual women’s clothing.

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BB: Have you ever had a “lightning bolt moment” or a sudden flash of inspiration?

MO: Yes! I had known I wanted to transition to custom printed fabric eventually, but when an opportunity dropped into my lap I certainly became inspired by how my company could grow.

On a backpacking trip, I was looking around at all the texture and color in the lichen on a rock I was taking a break on and I thought, “My prints should be inspired by nature and the amazing places where women are wearing the clothing I make!” So my next two collections have been entirely inspired by the natural world.

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Kind Apparel’s swim tops are reversible and versatile.

BB: Has being an entrepreneur changed you?

MO: Yes, in so many ways. It’s given me greater confidence. It’s taught me to be my own champion and cheerleader, and it’s taught me introspection and humility.

The most profound change is accountability. I used to, and still do, pass blame, decisions and challenges to everything and everyone but myself. But when you work for yourself and things go wrong or there are big problems, you must confront them.

There isn’t anyone else who can make the decisions that need to be made and any fault is almost always my own. I’m learning to own my mistakes and grow from them.

BB: What makes you feel like a badass?

MO: When I live up to my expectation of myself. Ha! I’m hugely competitive and set a very high bar for myself. It’s also an amazing feeling when I see women around Missoula — or abroad — wearing my clothing. Or when I introduce what I do and someone says, “Oh, that’s your company?! I have one of your dresses and I love it!”

I used to derive a lot of pleasure from physical or athletic accomplishments and as I get older this mentality and associated high do, too. Now, I feel like I badass when I see an impact I’ve created.

BB: What would you say to women who dream of starting an apparel company?

MO: It definitely sounds narcissistic, but I would say to anyone starting a business, “Put yourself first, love yourself the most, and believe in yourself the hardest.”

Certainly, you should have compassion and care for others, but no one is going to be as big of a supporter or believe in you as much as you will have to in yourself. You are your own best asset and the biggest tool to your success. Have confidence in that! Some people will dislike you and that’s totally okay.

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BB: What’s your dream trivia category?

MO: I am absolutely terrible at trivia. If there were somehow a category that allowed you to create your own questions and answers or a dream interpretation category I would be amazing at that. I’m good at bullshitting, but you can’t bullshit facts.

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BB: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

MO: I’ve been reading this incredible collection of stories lately that really inspire me as a creative woman in business. It’s In the Company of Women by Grace Bonney. If you ever need a pick-me-up or validation, you’re on the right track. The pages contain so many amazing stories of creative women living out their dreams and the journeys they’ve taken to get there.


Shop Kind Apparel and get your own unique, environmentally-friendly design by Mallory here.

Order In The Company of Women: Inspiration and Advice from over 100 Makers, Artists, and Entrepreneurs from your local bookstore or from Amazon here