With the holiday season quickly approaching, Alma Board and Box, a new locally owned charcuterie business, is providing Madison locals with the perfect holiday treat.
Alma Board and Box offers specialized curated cheese/charcuterie boards as well as graze boxes and custom boxes featuring a variety of meats, cheeses, fruits, and sweets.
“I make vegan, gluten-free, and vegetarian options,” said founder Megan Diaz-Ricks. “I always have gluten-free and vegan options for folks that want sweets in their boxes.”
Diaz-Ricks started Alma Board and Box this past November as a tribute to her late mother, San Juana.
“She loved to entertain people and she loved to make food for people and she was an entrepreneur and a restaurant owner,” Diaz-Ricks said. “So all of this is really an honor for me.”
Diaz-Ricks tries to source all of her products locally from businesses such as Farmer John’s, Willy Street Co-Op, Christine’s Kitchens, Brennan’s, and Artemis Provisions, a local Black-owned provisions business.
“Trying to keep my boxes as local as possible is something that I really know is important to support other small business owners,” Diaz-Ricks said.
“You got to make sure that you’re seeking [local businesses] out and that’s really what I’ve been trying to do is making sure that I’m finding local folks. And especially, owned by Black, Indigenous, folks of color, that’s really important to me,” Diaz-Ricks added. “So I’m trying, more and more, every week to make sure that I’m doing my research and getting those products into my boxes.”
Diaz-Ricks noted that her boxes are specifically for each customer.
“I kind of just take the energy of the person that’s ordering, the notes that they give me -likes and dislikes, who it’s for – and then I use that to make a very customized either box or charcuterie board,” Diaz-Ricks said. “…If it’s somebody who is experiencing a tough time and just wants a pick-me-up, what are the types of things that they like, how can I make it aesthetically pleasing so they’re looking at it and it kind of makes them happy. So I kind of really just play off the energy. No one of my boxes or boards is really alike.
“That’s kind of what I pride myself on: everything is really catered to the person who orders it,” she continued.
Alma Board and Box also take precautionary measures to ensure the preparation process is completely COVID safe.
“When I’m preparing the boxes, all of the areas obviously sanitized. [I am] wearing a mask, wearing gloves. And then, when we do deliveries, we do no contact deliveries.”
Outside of Alma Board and Box, Diaz-Ricks also works as the Director of Economic Development for Common Wealth Development. She noted that her position, especially her work with small businesses, has changed her understanding of Madison’s economic landscape.
“I think it gives me a perspective that I never had before. My parents were business owners they owned a restaurant for several years. I’ve never owned my own business. I’ve only seen what my parents went through,” Diaz-Ricks explained. “But this, being able to have that, it gives you more kind of empathy, it gives you more of a perspective that you never have before. It only makes me admire them more and really want to be a better advocate.”
However, Diaz-Ricks noted that “there’s so much more that we can be doing to support all of our Black and Brown entrepreneurs.
“It’s not enough to just say, ‘buy from this Black-owned business.’ What are the things that we need for them to grow and thrive? Yes, we need to purchase their products. Yes we need to support them, but there’s so much more. You know, thinking about debt, thinking about resources and grants that are available, thinking about who has the capacity to fail because businesses will fail.
“But there are folks who have more resources and, historically, that’s been more white affluent folks who have the capacity to fail. They start one business venture and it might not work out and they’re able to kind of pivot and turn, but they had that safety net. That’s just simply not what folks of color have and so when you fail, you lose everything. We need to think about the infrastructure that we’ve built, and how we can be more supportive of folks.”