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Twin Sisters Creamery opening in Ferndale

Jul 5th, 2015 | Category: Community

by Mary Vermillion

The new Twin Sisters Creamery will open this month near Ferndale, offering customers a variety of cheeses and cheese making classes.

Owners Lindsay and Jeff Slevin named the creamery in honor of their 6-year-old twin daughters as well as Whatcom County’s iconic mountain siblings. Their dream to operate a family-owned business is possible thanks to Lindsay’s passion for cheese, the support of Jeff and their belief in one another.

Lindsay’s interest in cheese making blossomed while working at DPI Specialty Foods, a national specialty foods distributor and cheese importer, owned by the Irish Dairy Board – Kerrygold. But, it was never simply a 9-5 fascination. “I’m the person who on vacation would drag my family to cheese shops,” she said. “I’m fascinated with making cheese, tasting cheese and by the people in the industry. I love that you start with four simple ingredients – milk, culture, salt and rennet – and can make thousands of products.”

The Slevin family (above) and Whatcom Blue cheese (below). COURTESY PHOTOS

The Slevin family (above) and Whatcom Blue cheese (below). COURTESY PHOTOS

She studied for and, in August 2012, was in the first class to pass the American Cheese Society (ACS) professional exam. Lindsay is currently one of 25 ACS-certified professionals in Washington.

In January 2013, the Slevins applied for a business license to open Twin Sisters Creamery, and Lindsay began racking up miles driving to and from southern Washington where she did research and development at Willapa Hills Cheese. “Cheese makers are an incredibly collaborative community,” Lindsay said. “I am grateful for the generous advice I received from so many people, including Amy and Stephen at Willapa. They definitely told me what not to do!”

Jeff, who works as a systems manager (he’ll manage product consistency and quality), calls the time a now-or-never moment. Lindsay says Jeff gave her the courage to take the risk, and Jeff credits Lindsay’s vision. “She’s like Russell Wilson,” he said. “She believes in it. I’m rustling each night and worried each day. Each time I get down or worried, she tells me what she thinks about are the people pulling into the parking lot and how excited they will be when they walk through the door.”

To get people in the door, they needed a storefront, of course. “Finding the location was especially tricky because we’re not the farmer, so we can’t be on agricultural land,” Lindsay said. Pioneer Pole Building’s mixed commercial center on Portal Way was the right fit. Twin Sisters Creamery’s custom pole building charms with its green and white trim and cultured stone base. A bank of windows looks out onto Portal Way. At the back of the retail space, customers can watch the cheese making process through large interior viewing windows.WHATCOMBLUE cheese web

The Slevins are making their cheese from cow milk because of the high-quality and abundant local product they could buy from the family-owned Twin Brook Creamery, just a short drive north of the store. They also admire owner Larry Stap’s commitment to quality and herd health. Using the high-fat, high-protein milk from Stap’s jersey cows, they’ll make two raw milk cheeses – Whatcom Blue and Whatcom White. For Whatcom Blue, their flavor target is a French import. The feta-style Whatcom White will be nice on its own or to crumble on dishes. The first release of Twin Sisters Creamery cheese will be in September.

The Slevins will hand cut the curds, salt and rub the cheese, and package it. The only automated step is the agitators in the vat. Lindsay estimates they’ll make up to 35,000 pounds of cheese the first year, operating their single 600-gallon vat twice a week.

While their cheeses won’t be ready until September, the retail store will feature the Slevins’ favorite Washington state, American, and import cheeses, as well as tours, cheese and wine pairing classes. Future cheese making classes will also be offered.

In addition to sales at the Portal Way location, the Slevins hope their cheese will eventually be sold at grocery stores in Washington and Oregon and available at the Bellingham Farmers Market.

Lindsay’s advice to others who may have a similar dream? “So many things can hold you back. Figure out what you need to push yourself forward,” she says. “Life is a gift, a ride. That’s what we’re here for. I don’t want to be 85 and thinking what were you afraid of?”

Their daughters are another reason the Slevins followed through on their dream. “I found my passion late in life,” she says. “I hope one day if my girls are lucky enough to find their passions that they are brave enough to pursue it. I figured the best way to inspire them is to lead by example.”

Twin Sisters Creamery opens this month at 6202 Portal Way in Ferndale. Hours are 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday. Cheese classes and private events will be held after 6 p.m. For more information, see twinsisterscreamery.com.

Published in the July 2015 issue of Grow Northwest

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