Check out our interview with entrepreneur Caroline D’Amore, CEO and Founder of Pizza Girl™, now available at Whole Foods and Gelson’s Markets.
Her e-commerce site relaunched in May 2021, offering the sauces for direct to consumer purchase in 24-oz glass jars. The 3 sauces available are the Pizza Girl Marinara Sauce, Pizza Girl Vodka Sauce and Pizza Girl Arrabbiata Sauce. Pizza Girl is now available at Gelson’s Markets, beginning in her home state of California, and will continue to do a retail rollout throughout 2021.
D’Amore’s Pizza Girl brand initially made waves the second it hit the market, for its flavorful and health-forward sauce, via Hollywood influencers and instant fans of the brand inclusive of Paris Jackson, Ashlee Simpson, Evan Ross, Chudney Ross, Kourtney Kardashian, Emile Hirsch, Paris Hilton, Audrina Patridge, Brody Jenner, and more.
Follow Caroline – @carolinedamore
Hi Caroline, please tell us a little about you?
Hello, I was born to an Italian restaurant family starting back with my great grandmother who was the head chef at Regina Pizza in the North end of Boston. I grew up amongst 5 other siblings all working in the D’Amore’s Pizza restaurants at Different times in our lives. Some of us still work in the D’Amores Pizza Business and some of us had to go off on our own. I was one that had to do my own thing as I have a very different vision for business than my father. My vision is Pizza Girl. A new aged feminine take on an old world recipe passed down for generations.
Describe yourself in 3 words?
Light , Determination, Positivity
How did you get started in the business?
I tried for years to work my way up the D’Amores Pizza latter and it proved extremely difficult to have my voice and ideas heard. So as a young mother I went off on my own starting Pizza Girl after I spotted a major gap in an already saturated market when I couldn’t find a delicious , conscious , organic pasta sauce on the supermarket shelves that spoke to me and my generation. Pizza Girl is just that product. It’s a labor of love and true experience. I hope that everyone in America gets to try my delicious healthy sauces.
How has this changed your life?
One does not anticipate the level of hard work they are gearing up for before they enter into the trenches of a startup. If they did, they may rethink that life path. This company has become my life. Besides my beautiful daughter I have little time or energy for much else. This will be my reality for the next several years and I’m excited about it. I’ve needed this to ground myself. I feel ready to give this my all. It changed my life because it has become my life. Now let’s see how far we can grow.
We’re sure you have been asked this million times but how did you get in the food and restaurant industry?
It’s all my family knows. The food industry is in my bloodline. It’s my history. And my future.
Now tell us about your Pizza Girl Sauces?
Pizza Girl Organic sauces are by far the healthiest sauces without compromising on flavor. Some of the super healthy sauces forget we care about taste and some packed with flavor are loaded with sugar and sodium. We have found a magical balance using longer cook times and quality ingredients to create a home cooked full and fresh flavor without all the additives. Every competitive jar I’ve found has this old world label that dawns an essence of grandma when let’s be real grandma isn’t buying jarred sauce nor is she making it. She’s at home cooking it from morning till dinner and sometimes even starts the night before. Hardworking moms and dads on the go are buying jarred sauce and I just thought why not represent the truth rather than an old marketing scheme of grandma in the kitchen. Here comes Pizza Girl the truth!
Where we can buy them?
Right now we are available across the country at pizzagirl.com and in California we have just landed in Gelsons , Bristol Farms and Wholefoods Supermarkets. We are working on landing more markets everyday and are making our way across the country.
We know that food and specifically Pastas and sauces are a very competitive market. What is different from Pizza Girl Sauces to other ones in the market?
While it is a saturated market and I was told this would be a tricky business to tap into successfully due to such brand loyalty, I still felt that people today care more and more about what they are putting to their bodies. They also care about the output of the companies they are buying from. Every Pizza Girl sauce has no added sugar and is certified organic all while taking the cook time for that quality home style taste that other companies just won’t do. The hardest part is getting people to try something new. We have been hit hard with not being able to do samples and demos during covid. In my 3 year experience building this brand I find that when people try it they buy it and immediately make the switch. We are women owned and earth conscious. We just spent months on the development of our new online packaging to eliminate the use of bubble wrap! I have ordered from all the leading sauce brands personally and was extremely put off by all the bubble wrap needed to ship these heavy glass jars. I just didn’t feel right starting a brand that would contribute so negatively to the environment. We have successfully eliminated bubble wrap in our online shipping boxes which we are extremely proud of and we know our consumer will be proud to be ordering a product like ours.
What do you think is the secret to having a successful business in a very competitive market like yours?
Just don’t quit. Don’t freak out when the shit hits the fan cause guess what it absolutely will. My new favorite word is Pivot. Just be ready to pivot and find a solution or new angle.
Can you recommend some recipes for us, yes the amateur chefs? 🙂
I have so many easy recipes on Pizza Girls Instagram. Follow @pizzagirlofficial for an ongoing yummy list of recipes with cute videos of me trying to cook 🙂
Have you ever been asked to cook/bake anything crazy or very different?
I’ve enjoyed cooking my whole life but I never took it to that elite chef status. I cook similarly to my grandmother where we just work with what we have and go by taste , smell and look. It always drove my ex husband Bobby crazy when I didn’t follow recipes cause something would come out great and he couldn’t redo it afterwards. I knew I had to start writing things down. Most dishes though I honestly use Pizza Girl sauce as the base. Soups, salad dressings, cocktail sauce , bloody mary’s, even under eggs and chorizo, I cook salmon and meats in my sauces. Pizza Girl is the base for all my cooking.
Now talking about The Hills. Tell us about your experience, the cast and what has been the best thing that has happened to you since being on the show?
Being the new girl on The Hills was a wild one. I felt like I was in high school again and the popular kids either tried to immediately befriend me to “ keep their enemies close” or hated me when they realized I wasn’t interested in their bullying ways. You can probably take a wild guess and assume who the entitled jerks were but luckily I come from lots of experience with entitled brats. So I managed quite well under the circumstances. I did meet some amazing friends that are true and beautiful human beings on both the cast and the production team. I’m extremely grateful for the experience and I’d absolutely do it again if it comes back around. It helped jump start my company when people really gravitated to my story of building my business. Pizza girl is my story so it was a huge part of my story line, and for all the hills fans that now love Pizza Girl and call it their new forever sauce I’m extremely grateful.
What is the most rewarding part of your work?
Well id love to say its the joy of helping people eat quality and healthy etc and while that’s all true it’s really watching this baby grow. It’s been so damn hard getting to where I am now and I still have so far to go. The stability of knowing what I want to do in business and that I’m on my way is keeping me sane. My childhood left me quite a mess trying to understand that I needed to take care of myself. I’m finally doing that. Better late than never!
What book should every entrepreneur read?
I just finished Super Maker by Jamie Schmidt and from Schmidts deodorant and I hung onto every word . I could hear her voice all stressed out and excited about each step. She had no idea what she was getting into or how hard it would be. I’m not a well read entrepreneur. I’m a hard worker, never give up , roll up your sleeves and suffer as an entrepreneur. I guess we will see if it pans out. But that’s all I know. It sure worked out for Jamie. She went from making deodorant in her kitchen barefoot and pregnant to selling her product all over the world! So far our stories are very similar. I hope it stays that way.
What would you say are the greatest lessons you learned so far?
If it’s too good to be true, it is. And always listen to your gut, it’s talking for a reason. Oh and don’t be greedy, that’s a big one.
How would your best friend describe you?
Hard working and crazy motivated but was never willing to sell her soul for fame or likes. My best friend is a manager and sure wish I would dance more and do these embarrassing tiktok videos that just aren’t me. I’m going to focus on building a company and a quality brand. I’m not an influencer and I never will be.
What’s next for Caroline D’Amore in 2021?
My only plan is to add more supermarkets to carry Pizza Girl each day and continue to get people to try it. Once they try it they make the switch and are Pizza Girl lifers. It’s just getting people to try it while we can no longer demo and give samples due to Covid. So if you are reading this just give us a try that’s all I ask. And let me know your thoughts on instagram cause I actually do care. I respond to everyone.
What is your favorite healthy food?
Salmon and broccoli cooked in Pizza Girl sauce. It’s the bomb.
And your favorite cheat food?
Apple or Cherry Pie and Ice cream forever and always
How would you explain your fashion style?
I really don’t have a specific style. I still wear things I had 20 years ago. Well my MTV shirt I still wear and I just saw myself in it in an old paparazzi shot walking out of a club with Paris Hilton back in 2000. So yeah I like what I like. Cozy casual, rocker or hippy just depends on my mood.
If you are a book, what would be the title of the book and why?
From Party Girl to Pizza Girl. It’s actually already in the works.
What is your own definition of happiness?
Just don’t be miserable all the time. The amount of shit I’ve endured in my life is enough to have made me a bitter asshole who hates everything, but what’s the point in that? My mother was already gone by my age and I’ve always known life is terribly short. So I’m going to be happy if it kills me.
As a popular face and someone that is on the news and TV you are followed by so many people. How do you feel about that pressure of always doing the right thing, and encourage people to follow their dreams?
I definitely don’t always do the right thing. I do try and I know my intentions are good. If someone gets inspired by my journey then that’s awesome! if they hate me that’s fine too. When I was younger I needed everyone’s approval due to lack of approval at home, childhood trauma, you know the shit that made you act and react etc. But as I get older I like myself more and know my worth and what’s actually worthy of my time. So I don’t feel pressure to be perfect and save the world. I’m aware that I’m far from perfect and maybe more people admitting that and taking responsibility for their output will help change the world a bit faster. Stop preaching perfection and making everyone feel less than. Just be you and the people who get you will be just the people you are meant to hang with or inspire.
If you could meet someone living or dead, who would it be and why?
I just want to hangout with my mom. Never really had the chance and that’s all I want.
Best advice ever given?
Take responsibility for your part in everything that goes wrong. Stop blaming your circumstances on others. You take care of yourself.
Where do you see yourself and your career in 5 years from now?
5 year from now Pizza Girl will be a household name in most kitchen cabinets across America. I’m hoping to bring Pizza Girl to some other countries as well. We get so many requests from Canada. I’d love to bring Pizza Girl to that market by then. I will by then be in a position to help other foodie entrepreneurs which is my long game goal. I plan on finding several other hopefuls and actually being the help I always wanted and needed. At 36 I finally met my mentors. I always dreamt of Rebecca Williamson and Arron Coote. Thank you for believing in me. I will pass it on.
Favorite song? Why?
Sweet Caroline because my Dad always sang it to me and there is always this extremely embarrassing moment when it comes on and everyone is drunk and they all stare at me and sing it to me. It’s like the embarrassment of a wedding or birthday all at once.
What do you think of Social Media?
I’ve never been a true lover of social media. One of my major defects in business and career building. I just missed the era of being born with a cell phone in your hand and really loving it. There is no reason why I shouldn’t have millions of followers other than I just don’t love it the way others do. You have to love it , be obsessed with it rather than end up at the Met Gala for posting pictures and videos of yourself. It’s just not my cup of tea. But of course I do it and I get happy when I have a ton of likes and confused when a post gets nothing. It’s the new addiction that gives you highs and lows faster than cocaine and while I see it’s obvious benefits I also think it’s quite dangerous. It’s our jobs as parents to teach our kids about these dangers and show them a life beyond “a moment didn’t happen if it wasn’t on camera” cause so many beautiful moments are being missed and it’s a true tragedy. Know social media for the darkness it can bring into your life and use it for what you need but do not let it control your moods and ruin living in the moment.
Where we can follow you?
Photo Credit: Janell Shirtcliff