Laura Foley Ramsden is a mother, wife, amateur chef, seasoned executive, and served as the fourth-generation fish mongress for the business founded by her great grandfather. Her salty sense of humor and boatload of grit helped her drive delivery trucks, author cookbooks, travel the world, and become an expert and passionate advocate for sustainable fisheries management in the United States. As a busy Knackpacker with a distinct perspective, we thought you may enjoy her unique reflections as she takes over today's Knack blog…
Have you ever had one of those days when you need to bring a box of Ritz Crackers, a lemon, a shucking knife, office shoes, marketing materials, a makeup touch-up bag, and your laptop to work? Probably not those exact items, but you get the idea. As a fourth generation fish mongress my work days vary greatly from hours spent on the production floor, to hosting visitors, to conducting cooking demos to driving delivery vans (you’ll have to wait for a future blog on the time I locked myself in…). Bottom line, like many working women juggling a crazy schedule, I need accessories that are going to help organize my frenetic (chaotic?!?) life. I am truly thankful (shameless, but sincere, plug) that my Knack is the best work backpack for women out there.
First, let me back up a bit. Why, you may ask, did I need Ritz Crackers, a lemon, a shucking knife and all the rest in my work backpack? This was no ordinary day at our fish plant: today CNBC was coming to film a segment on seafood sustainability and a secondary segment on non-traditional career paths like, for example, being a fish mongress. They wanted to tour the fish auction where we source our fish, film on our plant’s processing floor, conduct a one-on-one interview, take a few office shots, and then sample other seafood products - cue oyster shucking. While my friends would NEVER call me shy, I was definitely a bit apprehensive about having an interview with a major media outlet. So let me take you through a day in the life of a working woman starting with my sleepless night of planning and overall anxiety thinking about how the day would unfold.
The night before the shoot, I lay in bed mapping out in my mind all the things I would need. As I went through the things CNBC wanted to do, my list kept growing (I made a mental note to switch to my larger Knack bag) and my sleep kept shrinking. I was really worried about how to go from the fish auction segment to the rest of the day. If you’ve ever visited a fish auction (bonus points for you!), the floor is typically covered in fish “juice” from leaky totes and melting ice - not the type of thing you want to bring back to the office. I knew that I would need a second pair of shoes for the office part of the filming and that I could also use a box of gloves and hand wipes since the producers wanted some “beauty” shots of me holding whole fish (note to others with this assignment, grab the whole fish by the eyeballs for the best grip - it may make you squeamish but it definitely establishes one’s badass fishmongress credibility!). I knew the antibacterial lining in the suitcase side of my Knack bag would be the best place to keep my fish auction shoes post-use because I wouldn’t have to wash the entire bag. I could just give it a quick wipe down and it would be good to go! The suitcase compartment also would have plenty of room for my box of gloves and sleeve of wipes.
As if I didn’t have enough on my mind after my sleepless night, the morning of the shoot CNBC added a new section with me cooking in our office’s test kitchen. On my way out the door, I ransacked my home kitchen’s shelves and grabbed the Ritz Crackers, lemon and shucking knife to be sure we had everything we needed for the segment. I know Ritz is a 1950’s staple and the world has moved on to more gourmand options like Japanese panko but, bite for bite, nothing tastes better on a flaky white fish than the sweet/salty combination of a Ritz Cracker crumb.
After we filmed the auction and plant tour, we moved to the cooking segment. Since my company is really focused on sustainability we wanted to communicate that sustainable fish like Silver Hake, Atlantic Pollock and Haddock (we call them cod cousins) all have a similar taste profile to their more well known, popular but less abundant cousin, Atlantic Cod. I cooked all four types of fillets side-by-side in the Ritz Cracker crumbs for a blind taste comparison. The CNBC producers were impressed (or maybe just really hungry) but they cleaned their plates and really couldn’t tell the difference.
At the end of the cooking segment, we sampled other types of seafood (like oysters). True confession: for a fishmongress I am not a great oyster shucker (think crumbled shells and mulched meats) so my husband Peter pre-shucked a bunch for for me so we could have some “magic of television” resulting in oysters on the half shell good enough for the Four Seasons. Minor crisis averted: Peter couldn't find me when he needed to start shucking, but he had no problem finding the oyster knife because it was in my Knack’s front “pen” section where we always store our shucking tools. A quick aside: it’s a pet peeve of mine when I have to dig through my purse to find my pen, my keys, my chapstick, etc.. It’s so nice to have a work backpack where everything is where it should be - including my oyster knife!
Next was the interview segment, which was, by far, the most nerve-racking part for me. Bright lights, one live person, two others by “Slack” firing questions at me, and no hair or makeup person to help this fish mongress look presentable. I had been wearing a company baseball cap at the fish auction, a hair net on the plant floor, and I hadn’t seen a mirror in hours. Thankfully, the producer said “you have some shine you may want to address.” Bless you. I’ll be right back. I grabbed my cosmetic bag and some other needed items from the front section of my Knack and the fish mongress proceeded to freshen up. As a working woman who hasn’t had time, or inclination, to investigate the wonders of “enhancements”, I was counting on Bobbi Brown to make me presentable and was so glad my Knack bag had an area perfectly suited to my small, but trusted, cosmetic collection.
The final part of the day revolved around filming me at my desk. I pulled my laptop from my Knack and did a really good job of fake working. I was also really glad to have just one bag neatly tucked beside my desk. Before I found Knack, I was like a lot of other working women who have a briefcase, a lunch bag, a work bag, and a gym bag all piled next to their desks. Who knew that a backpack for this working woman could make such a difference?
All in all, I think the day went well. I'll stick to my day job, but it was fun to educate the CNBC team on our world of fish and how we work to promote sustainable seafood offerings. It was also rewarding to talk about a non-traditional career path like fish mongressing. I would venture to guess that most college career centers aren’t presenting fish mongressing as a top career choice for young women. Hopefully, I made enough good points to get people thinking about the value of working with a terrific, committed team in a business you feel passionate about - that was my goal.
It was also great to walk into the shoot feeling organized and prepared because I was wearing my Knack - truly the best work backpack for women. It literally had a compartment, or section, for everything I needed to bring to the shoot. The best thing about my Knack backpack is that it really can adapt to my individual needs. Where you might put pens, I put shucking knives. To each their own, I say when it comes to utilizing your work backpack for women.