Abigail Schlesinger credits her aunt for introducing her to charcuterie boards. It was on a summer vacation in Newport Beach, and Schlesinger was dazzled to discover a “beautifully arranged” smorgasbord of cheese, meats, pretzels, dried fruits sitting on a coffee table. Her aunt gave Schlesinger some pointers.
“It became a family tradition,” Schlesinger says. “It was something my family did whenever we got together.”
Later, Schlesinger started posting her own creations on social media, which resulted in an onslaught of direct messages from her followers asking her to turn her charcuterie hobby into a business. Problem was, despite being only 16 years old at the time (she’s now 17), Schlesinger was already running a different business: Lemon Trends, an online clothing store. Then there was school and her extracurriculars: cheer, tennis, student government.
Despite the busy schedule, Schlesinger decided to launch her business, Charcuterie Collective, this past November. At first, orders trickled in. But now, a little more than half a year later, Charcuterie Collective has bookings every single weekend. (Schlesinger originally started the business with her friend, Sophie Evans, but, they parted entrepreneurial ways when Evans decided to continue her academic studies out of state.)
A lot of time and planning goes into these artistic boards. She shapes the salami meat into roses and balances the food colors. They can be sweet, or savory, or themed. They can be an appetizer or cover an entire table, and their pricing depends on the number of guests and food. Sometimes, the board costs $55. Sometimes, it’s $600. (Schlesinger sources the food from Trader Joe’s, AJ’s Fine Foods, Costco, and smaller grocery stores.)
“When people book us for a big event, we arrive at the location and build the board right on the table,” Schlesinger says. “We build it on butcher paper so that at the end of the event it can be rolled up and thrown away for easy cleanup.”
“It’s 100 percent the support of family and friends,” Schlesinger says about balancing her business with high school and all those other extracurriculars. “My parents pick up a lot of slack wherever it’s needed, and I also see support from my coaches, being flexible.”
Actually, her mom is the one who had the idea to make homemade jams, which have become especially popular through Charcuterie Collective. Schlesinger is now selling the jams through Instagram. She may even start shipping them out of Arizona in the next few months.
Charcuterie Collective is hosting classes for those interested in learning about the process. The company has a pending website at charcuteriecollective.com and an active Instagram page at @charcuteriecollective.