Interview with Laura, the Fish Mongress | Best Expandable Backpack

One of the best parts of the #OneBagLife is the diversity of professionals and people who use the Knack Pack to get out and experience the world.

We love sharing the stories of Knackpackers, from Olympic athletes to IT Executives to traveling photographers.

Today, we’re sharing the story of a unique and inspiring Knackpacker. Meet “The Fish Mongress,” Laura Foley Ramsden, CEO of Foley Fish, a company that processes and ships all-natural fish throughout the USA. 

Below, we’ve shared a spotlight on Laura’s leadership at Foley Fish, some tips on how to pick the best fish at your local market, as well as sharing how the Knack Pack makes managing a global supply chain easier.

Laura Foley Ramsden, CEO of Foley Fish

Leading a 100-Year-Old Company

Foley Fish is a Massachusetts-based family business, and Laura is the fourth generation Foley to run the organization. What really stands out about the company is their dedication to truly fresh seafood that is sustainably sourced and “handled with care from dock to plate.”

The team at Foley fish meets with boat captains on the dock to inspect and bid on lots of seafood (the company offers almost 100 varieties), and then takes their product to be processed in one of their two processing centers. From there it’s driven to local restaurants in the Boston area, as well as freighted to customers across the United States.

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Fourth generation family business in Massachusetts

Taking the Helm 

We were curious about exactly how one generation hands off the family business to the next, and Laura was very open about the process.  

“My husband, Peter, and I have always been entrepreneurial,” shares Laura. “It wasn’t as if we held a retirement party and got the keys from my dad, Mike Foley. The first thing we did was to conduct an in-depth case study on the company to make sure there was a viable business. Less than 4% of family-run businesses last through the fourth generation, and it was critical to do our due diligence.”

Premium fish supplier in the USA, Foley Fish

Laura and Peter looked at everything from developments in shipping and transport, the state of sustainable fishing in the United States to having all company buildings inspected. “Peter also did every job in the company and plant, from packing fish to delivery to back office, to make sure we understood the ins and outs of every role,” she shares.

Seeing a bright future for the business, Laura and her husband purchased the business outright in 2004.

The Fish Mongress interview with Knack Bags

Logistics Management: How Foley Fish Finds Premium Seafood

“Something that really differentiates Foley Fish is our obsession with fresh fish,” shares Laura. “Our team coordinates all buys at the docks, and we have an excellent system in place to bid and find the best seafood.”

The Foley Fish buying team has strict standards when it comes to purchasing. Says Laura, “Top of mind is making sure that the fish doesn’t smell. It’s a common misconception that fish smells. Fresh fish doesn’t smell, it’s the bacteria that smells.”

Fresh seafood and freshwater fish from Foley Fish

The team also looks for fish that is, at the most, only 24-48 hours out of the water, as Foley Fish has customers all over the USA. “We keep tight transport times, by truck and by air, to make sure the fish arrives fresh. A top tier restaurant isn’t going to want to serve fish that’s been out of the water for 7 days, so logistics are key.”

Tips on Choosing Seafood at Your Local Market

While Foley Fish mostly serves high end restaurants (more on that in a minute), Laura also wanted to share with Knackpackers some key facts about picking your own seafood at your local market, specifically, how companies get the fish ready for your table:

How to choose fish at the grocery store

“My righteous campaign is that many companies adulterate seafood and no one has to disclose it,” she shares. 

This was a new term to us, so we asked Laura to explain what “adulterate” means.

“Adulterating seafood has a variety of definitions,” she explained. “Some companies soak their seafood, say calamari, in water to make it weigh more. This increases their profit. Other companies use chemicals to soak scallops and mask aging. They put their product in a chemical compound to mask aging in other shellfish, like scallops. Still others use carbon monoxide gas to burst the blood vessels in tuna and get a pink color to mask browning.”

Feeling a little freaked out? Don’t be!

“I shared tips on picking seafood with Edible Boston, so I’d definitely read that article for tips on shopping.”

Tips for choosing fresh sustainable fish and seafood - Foley Fish

Want to Buy Foley Fish?

Foley Fish primarily partners with restaurants, but there are some retailers where you can find their products, like Roche Brothers and Highland Park markets. 

If you’re a foodie who wants to eat Foley Fish at a quality-obsessed restaurant in your area, you can email the Foley team and ask for recommendations.

Fresh and sustainable seafood - Copyright Foley Fish

Leadership Tip for Executives - Invest in Customer Education

“One of the key things we do as a company is focusing on the education of our clients. We do so much to make sure we have unadulterated seafood, but what if we get it to a restaurant or retailer and their team makes a few mistakes – lowering the quality of the product?

We tackled this issue by starting ‘Foley School of Fish,’ an intensive on-site program where Foley clients, like chefs, restaurant owners, and food and beverage managers, come to learn everything about fish and seafood. The 3-day program covers a variety of topics, including how to train their staff on handling, how to analyze fish for freshness and quality and how to monitor and understand the industry – and predict how it will impact their business.”

Foley Fish - School of Fish Training Program

Laura also delves into sustainability, educating participants on how to make sure fish is truly sustainable. She rolls up her sleeves to do the work with her team, cooking meals for the participants and driving them to the docks at 4AM to see the boats coming in with that day’s catch.

“We form long term relationships with our clients,” shares Laura. “And we invest heavily into making sure they can use Foley products in the best way possible.”

Laura Foley Ramsden & Her Medium Knack Pack

Laura lives a busy life, and there is no such thing as a “typical day.”

“My schedule really varies,” she shares. “I definitely don’t live a 9-5 life in an office. A week ago, I was wearing my Knack Pack all over Dallas, meeting clients and bringing samples to chefs.  The week before that I was in the office all day, sharing year end recaps with customers and meeting with the team for strategy planning sessions.” 

Laura Foley Ramsden using her Medium Knack Pack at the factory

Laura uses her Knack Pack for a variety of uses, as her expandable backpack makes it easy to go from the office to the docks to the airport.

Using the Knack Pack as a Carry-On Business Backpack

I have to take a lot of paper with me on these trips, so I keep all of my brochures and client reports in the expandable luggage compartment. After I’ve given out all my materials I’m able to compress my Knack Pack.

After landing, I get my boxes of fish, around twenty-five pounds each, and my rental car, usually a minivan. On this recent trip to Dallas, I forgot my branded Foley bag that I use to carry fish.  Unfortunately on this trip, the bag didn’t make it on the plane, but I was able to use my Knack Pack to carry product and my business materials in separate compartments. It’s a great expandable backpack.

Foley Fish Tin - Copyright Foley Fish

I put the smaller fish tins in the main compartment, separating them from my papers and keeping my client materials dry.”

“My Knack Pack made it easy to carry all my tech, cords and gear for the business trip, leaving my hands free to hold a larger box with sample product.  I really need two hands to hold the samples, and I was able to easily do this with the Knack Pack.”

Packing the Knack Pack with product samples

Laura is able to easily use her expandable backpack to carry everything she needs, compressing the expandable luggage compartment as she finishes up her day.

Professional Backpack for Executive Travel

“I was having meetings with chefs at the Ritz Carlton in Dallas, country clubs, and other beautiful places. I don’t want to show up with multiple bags, and it’s important to have a professional backpack for these meetings.”

Business travel with the Knack Pack

Packing the Medium Knack Pack

Laura took her Medium Knack Pack in Stealth Black on this trip. Here’s how she packed her expandable backpack:

  • Top Pocket:  “I keep my wallet in here to have it separated from my business items. I also put my AirPods and charging cords in here for easy access.”
  • Front Triangle Pocket:  “This is probably a little different from other Knackpackers, but I keep my clam and oyster knife in here, as well as scissors. I use these in sales meetings to open the product”
  • Main Compartment:  “When it’s not full of fish, I keep my laptop in here. It’s a little too big for the laptop sleeve, so I’ve customized my Knack Pack for my needs.”
  • Laptop Sleeve:  “This is where I keep important folders or reports I need to quickly access to discuss with staff or use vendor meetings.”

Laura Foley Ramsden spotlight on business owner in Boston

Finding the Right Knack Pack for You

Laura uses her Medium Knack Pack in Stealth Black for business trips and international travel, and she’s created a way of packing her Knack Pack that works best for her. 

If you’re ready to live a one bag life, but worry about it fitting everything you need, check out our comparison chart.  We’re also happy to answer any questions you may have through our Facebook page or email (support@knackbags.com).

We also cover 100% of return shipping within 30 days, should you need to exchange your Knack Pack for a different size.
<< Laura uses her Medium Knack Pack in Stealth Black. Check it out the luxury version in our Premium Napa Leather>>