Lauren Breault is the Account Executive with All Seas Wholesale, Inc., the leading wholesale distributor of fresh, quality and sustainable seafood based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Breault grew up in the small town of Westford, Massachusetts, and relocated to California eight years ago. She has been involved in the seafood industry and fishing on both East and West Coasts all her life, but has been in the seafood industry as a career just over the last year. Coming into work every day, she enjoys taking in the biggest breath of air and smelling the ocean. That is how, she said, you know the seafood is super fresh! Breault is pictured with her favorite fish the Lingcod.
Sea Delight: Sustainable seafood is an industry for the future. Maintaining a healthy ocean with responsibly sourced fish is simply good business. What attracted you to the seafood business in the first place?
Lauren Beault: I jokingly tell people I was born with a fishing pole in my hands and that I love to go fishing as much as the average person enjoys breathing; because it is true. I have loved fishing as far back as I can remember standing at the waters’ edge excitedly with my dad and my grandfather. After an 11-year-career in banking, I was introduced to my current boss, Peggy Howse, who knew I did sales and loved to fish. Those things combined created a unique opportunity for me to work in the seafood industry. This was my chance to work in a career that aligned with my passion, allowed me to learn more about the industry and how fishing sustainably affects the ocean. Let alone how excited I was to wear jeans every day to work! One thing led to another and Peggy made me an offer I could not refuse.
SD: The seafood industry is a significant contributor to the world’s growing need for healthy sustainable food. Why is sustainability important to you?
LB: As I mentioned before fishing is my life and passion. If we are not fishing in a sustainable manner the future generations will not have an opportunity to know and enjoy fishing like I do. It all comes down to respect and science. We must take the necessary steps to fully respect and understand the ecosystems, global warming, fishing, over fishing and catch methods to ensure we maintain healthy populations in all of our oceans.
SD: What are some of the projects you are currently working on that will enhance the future of the seafood industry?
LB: Every day I am working on educating my customers on sustainability. Not everyone knows what “sustainably caught” means. It is my job not only to provide seafood to the Bay Area but also to ensure they know what they are buying, how it was caught and where it is coming from. By educating people they will share this knowledge with other people in their kitchens so that they can make better choices when they place their orders now and in the future. I aspire to create a non-profit organization that creates fishing experiences for everyone with a focus on children, disabled, elderly and veterans. The more people I can teach or get excited about fish the more people will understand how important it is to protect our oceans for years to come.
SD: The seafood industry is one of the most complex global systems in the world because it’s about feeding people. What has been your biggest challenge working in the industry in general and also addressing sustainable seafood?
LB: Personally my biggest challenge was to learn as much as possible about seafood, catch method, origin and cooking preparations. Although I had a strong background in fishing, I was not familiar with all the different species of fish and shellfish from all over the world. I continue to learn something new every day and the industry is ever changing. When my customers have questions I need to have the answers. The San Francisco Bay Area is a unique food market where I feel more people here want to know about their food then in other markets. The word sustainable is as common as the word Golden Gate Bridge here. The biggest challenge is to already have all the answers.
SD: The best leaders are lifelong learners. What have you learned most recently that has made an impact on your career?
LB: I have learned that seafood sales are just like fishing and without a strong focus on sustainability it will not exist for future generations. With fishing you need to adjust your method depending on many factors including temperature, time of day, cloudy or sunny, depth of water, clarity of water, and season. With wholesale seafood you need to check the temperature of the chef/purchaser, their sustainable priorities, needs, delivery times, and overall expectations. Then you need to exceed those expectations, continually educate, and ensure that you maintain a strong relationship. A.K.A. Set the hook and keep them on the hook!
SD: What advice would you give other women interested in a career in the seafood industry?
LB: With your tax return this year buy some fishing gear and go fishing. Go fishing and bring your friends, family and children. If you don’t know how to do it then go online and search how to do it. There are also tons of sport fishing guides everywhere who will let you rent gear from them. Go fishing. Practice fishing. Teach fishing and repeat. This is one way you can learn to get excited about fish. Once you are “hooked” then you can look into industry leaders in seafood close to where you live. Call them up and ask them for a tour of their facility. Investigate where your skills will fit best into the seafood industry and go for it. I promise you that you will not have one boring day!