'Self-sufficiency is Resistance'
Julie Fox Jones’ family has been in Cullowhee for at least 100 years, probably even longer. Naturally, as a kid growing up here, all she wanted to do was leave. Get out of town. What she didn’t expect was that once she’d made it out, all she would think about was how to get home.
“I started daydreaming about how I would come back home, I knew it would involve a career change, and this is what I ended up with,” said Jones, motioning to the wide open interior of her new storefront on main street in downtown Sylva.
By ‘this,’ Jones means Wildkitchen Supply — a store for everything you can do in a kitchen — which officially opened its doors June 30. Jones’ goal was to create a place where people could come for all their kitchen needs. Not just baking and grilling, but also preparation, preservation, foraging, crafting and tools for just about any other food-related need one might have. She has built a kitchen store that caters to the type of kitchen she grew up in — an appalachian one where a whole lot more goes on than just cooking.
“This is a kitchen store specifically for the people of Western North Carolina,” said Jones. “That includes both people like me who are from here and also the kind of people that this area attracts. And so it's not so much fine dining and silverware as it is items to help people with their crafts in the kitchen. Whether that's home canning, that's been done around these parts for a long time, or learning new things like how to make your own sourdough or your own kombucha.”
As you walk into Wildkitchen Supply, you’ll notice the words “self-sufficiency is resistance,” sprawled across the wall to your right. This idea is at the core of Jones’ new business.
“These mountains have a history of being rebellious,” says Jones. “From the Cherokee resisting removal, to the hardscrabble immigrants resisting persecution, to moonshiners resisting taxation. This area is a hotbed of fierce independence.”
Though Jones is noticeably humble and grateful for the place she’s in, it’s not hard to see that fierce independence lurking behind her smooth veneer. That appalachian attitude helped her get where she is today. Leaving a career in construction management, where she worked all over the southeast, to open a store in Sylva was not an easy transition. It took a lot of work to get to be able to open the doors to her store this summer. Jones encountered a steep learning curve, one her strength, independence and passion for self-sufficiency and appalachian culture helped her to navigate.
More than anything, Jones is eager to share what she has created with the community. That’s why Wildkitchen Supply will not only be a place for supplies, but also inspiration, education and connection with local artists and creators. Jones plans to be an outlet where local artists of all sorts can display their works and gain visibility. In addition, she is planning several classes and demonstrations that will give the community an opportunity to learn and trade methods, tips and tricks for all things that might go on in the kitchen.
The first three classes scheduled at Wildkitchen Supply are coming up in July. A demonstration on how to make vegan lox and cacio e pepe with locally foraged ingredients will take place at 6 p.m. Thursday, July 14. Another class on mixing sweet and savory flavors, in this case summer fruit and local pork belly, will take place at 6 p.m. Sunday, July 17. On Thursday, July 2, there will be a class on making sauerkraut. Participants will go home with kraut-to-be, as well as supplies.
Jones has created a place where residents and visitors to the area can expect to find a plethora of tools for the kitchen, education and community. To find out more visit wildkitchensupply.com or visit the store in person at 567 W. Main Street in Sylva.