Company: Tastefully Simple, Alexandria, MN
Company Description: Founded in 1995, Tastefully Simple offers over 50 easy-to-prepare gourmet foods and gifts designed to help people spend less time in the kitchen and more time enjoying the rest of their lives. Our products are sold by over 26,000 independent consultants primarily at home taste-testing parties nationwide, plus anyone can shop online with a Tastefully Simple consultant at tastefullysimple.com.
Nomination Category: Company/Organization Categories
Nomination Sub Category: Employer of the Year
Nomination Title: Tastefully Simple: Turning 'Em On, Turning 'Em Loose
1. Describe for the judges the activities and accomplishments of the nominated company during the eligibility period (up to 500 words):
At Tastefully Simple, we offer “the food you love, the time you deserve” – over 50
easy-to-prepare gourmet foods designed for busy lives.
And though the company started out in a shed with no running water in 1995,
today Tastefully Simple is a $139-million company with over 350 talented team
members at our headquarters in Alexandria, Minnesota.
Special Honors & Awards
For the past four years, Tastefully Simple has been honored to be ranked in the
top 5% of employers nationwide (Center for Values Research, Inc.). After being
named to Inc. magazine’s list of America’s fastest-growing companies for several
years, Tastefully Simple was inducted into the Inc. 500 Hall of Fame in 2005.
We’ve also been named the “Best Local Employer” by the Echo Press and
Business & Professional Women (BPW) in our hometown. And in 2007, our
company received the Minnesota Governor’s Award for Excellence in Waste and
Passion, People & Principles
So what makes our company so different? At the heart of Tastefully Simple, you’ll
find a unique culture based on three principles – abundancy, magic and realness.
Abundancy is believing there’s enough to go around for everyone. Magic is created
through celebration and excellence, and realness is building trust through
These principles come to life through …
• Community outreach – Each year, we donate 10% of net profits after taxes to
charitable organizations ($4 million in donations to date). We’ve also established
a “Kids in the Community” youth mentorship and employ a full-time volunteer, plus
every team member receives eight hours of paid volunteer time annually.
• Wellness – All team members receive free membership to The Well – our state-
of-the-art, onsite wellness center.
• Going Green – In 2002, Founder & CEO Jill Blashack Strahan and Founding
Partner & COO Joani Nielson purchased 100 acres of land, including a lake, to
preserve it from future development. All members of the company are welcome to
use the property for canoeing, hiking and snowshoeing with their families. We also
created a “Green Team” to promote recycling and reusing resources.
• Career Development – Tastefully Simple provides tuition reimbursement for
career-related courses. New team members receive 40 hours of training, and
our “Live & Learn” program provides 10 hours of soft-skill training for everyone
annually. We also created an annual event called “Impact Alexandria” that brings
renowned business leaders to our hometown – such as Zig Ziglar and Stephen
• Recognition – Each year team members may nominate their peers for special
honors, such as the “Spirit of Tastefully Simple Award” – which includes a trip to
• Celebration – Other fun perks include pizza parties, discounts, birthday and
anniversary gifts, complimentary muffins and fruit, and more!
Based on the success of this approach, Tastefully Simple created a Turn ‘Em
On ... Turn ‘Em Loose!™ DVD in 2007 to show other organizations how to
increase productivity and energy in their own workplaces.
For all of these reasons and more, we’d truly be honored for Tastefully Simple to
be recognized as Employer of the Year.
2. List the URLs (web addresses) of any online news stories, press releases, or other documents that you would like the judges to see that support your entry. IMPORTANT: List each URL on a separate line, begin each URL with http://, and enclose each URL in square brackets. For example, [http://www.yourcompany.com/pressrelease.html]:
3. Provide a brief biography of the person or persons who lead the nominated organization (up to 100 words):
Jill Blashack Strahan, Founder & CEO of Tastefully Simple, is one of the nation’s
leading female entrepreneurs. Since the company began in 1995, she’s been
recognized as an Ernst & Young® Entrepreneur of the Year national finalist and
received many other top honors for business and entrepreneurship, including
Tastefully Simple’s induction into the Inc. 500 Hall of Fame. In 2007, she also
published a book about her life lessons and inspirational journey with Tastefully
Simple called Simply Shine: Stories That Stirred the Fire.
Jill makes her home in Alexandria, Minnesota, with her husband, Gary, and her