Laura Lee Imhoff grew up in Boxford, Massachusetts. After a thirteen-year stint in Austin, Texas, playing music, farming, crafting, and cooking, she’s back on the North Shore. And she’s brought with her her brand, Made by Laura Lee, and all the jams, jellies, pickles, cookbooks, crafts, and other goodies that come with it.
Imhoff’s journey has been a bit of a winding one. She completed her undergrad degree at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in stained glass, drawn towards visual arts and detailed processes. She moved to Texas in 2008 to pursue music. “I really fell in love with Austin,” says Imhoff, “and the vibrancy, the culture, community—and the tacos.”
Her love of food catapulted the next leg of her career. “I decided to take a job at a culinary school,” she explains, “and I just fell in love with that community—it was farm-to-table, cooking—and that just opened up a whole new door for me.”
After the culinary school sparked Imhoff’s interest in locally grown cuisine, she dabbled in a few different aspects of the farm-to-table scene. “In a world where it’s so easy to go to the grocery store, I think local farms and the local food scene is so important for health and community,” says Imhoff. She worked at an organic farm near Austin, managed a restaurant, started her own small homestead farm, and even jumped back into music and art full-time. “All of this experience has kind of morphed into my own business, Made by Laura Lee,” she says.
At madebylauralee.com, Imhoff sells her handmade jams, pickles, and other canned goods, along with embroidery, greeting cards, custom orders, and a cookbook. Her blog section is full of recipes, DIY projects, and other inspiration for the creatively inclined. She even refinishes old furniture—keep a close eye on her site to snag some of these refurbished pieces.
And now, her journey has led her full circle—to the farm where she worked in high school. Imhoff made her way back to the North Shore this winter after thirteen years in Austin to work at Paisley Farm & Greenhouses on Boxford’s Route 133, helping with the farm stand and learning how to run a New England farm.
All the while, Imhoff’s own business has been going steady—along with her usual products, she’s selling special “I Love You Mom” embroidered hand towels and greeting cards for Mother’s Day. Imhoff suggests customers get their Mother’s Day orders in by May 2 to ensure timely delivery.
She’s even working on a new cookbook, slated for release later this year, that focuses on how to can and how to use canned goods in recipes. Imhoff is having fun with her recipes—”I’m not a typical jam on toast kind of person,” she explains. “I like brandied apple butter marinated pork chops, and strawberry balsamic jam on a mozzarella chicken melt.”
In the coming years, Imhoff says, she would eventually love to have her own farm, where she can grow produce for local restaurants, CSAs, and a farm stand, and even host classes and other events. “Health really starts from the soil up, and being able to grow healthy food to make healthy people is where it starts,” she says. Right now, she’s soaking up all the knowledge she can at Paisley Farm.
“I love food and I love feeding people, so I think starting with farming is a great way to make that love grow,” she laughs—”No pun intended.”