We all love a well-curated graze board. If you have been to an event in the LA area with the most gorgeous graze board, there’s a good chance it was created by sisters Shelby and Savannah Di Marco of Sorella Collective, an LA-based sister-owned company. We chatted with both Shelby and Savannah about what it’s like owning and operating a woman-owned business, the trials, and errors they have encountered in their business, and how to curate a perfect cheeseboard at home.

Sorella Collective is a company owned and operated by women who create beautifully curated graze boards. Tell us a little about how you got started.

Shelby- I have always had a passion for styling anything. I gravitate towards things where I can work with my hands- from styling the dinner table with foraged greenery or creating the parties’ cheeseboard. I will always, happily, be in charge of the creative side of gatherings. Sorella was born from wanting to capture the beauty and flavor of good seasonal food. Everything really came about from my weekly Farmers Market trips. 

Savannah- I also have always loved food and entertaining. I started Sorella with my sister at 21. I needed something different. I was in college, getting my BA in Journalism. All while being a model, which I have been doing since 15. I just knew I needed more experience and to challenge myself. So, when my sister asked me to start Sorella with her I was like “sure why not!” Best decision of my life! When we started really getting the ball rolling to start this business we also realized that there was a missing puzzle piece in the food industry. Cheese boards that look great and maintained the integrity of sustainability was lacking…we wanted to change that. We wanted to start a business that in return helps others. 

When did you have the “aha” moment that you could make a business out of selling your boards?

Savannah- I think any business owner would agree, that the first months of starting a business is a trial and error time. At first, we had the idea of using really expensive wood as the base for our product. But we soon realized that picking up a board after every event was unrealistic and, in Los Angeles traffic, a nightmare. After brainstorming about what we could do, we thought the best option would be a thinner, yet still high-quality board. After figuring out those measurements and making sure they fit in boxes we came up with our “to-go menu” which means we do the board of your choice (cheese, crudité, or fruit board) and then drop it off. Our customers can then throw away the board after use.  That was our “Aha” moment; a “to go” charcuterie business. It was then that our business really started picking up. 

Graze boards are not only beautiful but are also a lovely way to feed a crowd. Tell us a little about the process of curating one.

Shelby- Everything we have to show on our boards is because of incredible farmers. We go to two Farmers' Markets a week and meticulously hand-pick our produce. We work with our distributors for our curated list of cheese & charcuterie that is the highest of quality you could get on the market. Every board represents the craft of hardworking farmers and we are so proud to be able to work with them year-round. 

A charcuterie spread has cheeses, fruits, flowers and olives.

Sorella Collective is committed to sustainability. Tell us how you practice that in your business.

Savannah- Sustainability is extremely important at Sorella. It is ever evolving, and we are like sponges to new and better ways. And honestly, we aren’t perfect. We are learning everyday about how to be more sustainable as a business. I think the key to sustainability, and practicing it in your everyday, starts with being easy on yourself. Understand that you are not going to be perfect and be open to do at least one small thing to change your habits. We are going to start working with compost companies to come pick up our greens and we have reusable bags for our Farmers Market trips. We have significantly reduced our plastic waste since the beginning days of our business.

What are a few principles you always follow when putting together a graze board?

Shelby- It’s really all about what’s in season. We always start from there. Right now, in November, it’s all about fruits like persimmons, marble-y grapes hinted with tones of orange and red, and mini apples. Our cheeses are our bases to the board and to quote our friend Marissa of That Cheese Plate, our salami is put on like a river. The salami river rushes down our board and is never in a straight line. Everything is filled in from there. Its these principles that help us with getting boards out in a timely manner.

Any tips for someone putting together a board at home?

Savannah- Our biggest tip for putting together a cheeseboard at home is to use ingredients that are both familiar and unique. We always encourage to first check out your local Farmers Market for produce, scour the market and discover new and interesting things to the season. For the cheese, we always have something that’s tangy, soft, hard and somewhere in the middle. Always get your charcuterie freshly sliced. Accoutrements should check mark sweet and salty tastes. Arrange in a way that is accessible but also artistically elevated. Herbs or flowers to top it off!

It’s a given that wine and cheese pair great together. What are a few of your favorite combos?

Shelby- Point Reyes Bay Blue cheese, walnuts, and a drizzle of honey. That is the best combo of all time. We also like Cypress Grove Truffle Tremor, with a dollop of Mrs. G’s Mango Ginger Habanero Jelly. When figs are in season, Cowgirl Creameries Mt. Tam with a fig on top is heaven in a bite! When you have a board in front of you treat it like an experience, meaning sample cheeses you have never tried before and pair it with a fruit or a jam.

When not curating gorgeous boards, what is your favorite way to spend your free time?

Savannah- I love going around Los Angeles and trying different restaurants. Some of my favorites right now are Silverlake’s Kismet and Los Feliz’s Small Town. I also enjoy doing yoga and reading books on how I can make this business better... seriously that’s fun for me!

Shelby- My life revolves around Sorella, in a good way! Sorella is not only my job but is my hobby. I am always finding new ways of being a better business, trying new places to inspire us, being in spaces that fuel me to be more innovative. It’s really the dream. I do love to cook, I love to garden, being in my garden with dirt all over my hands is my happy place.

What’s next for Sorella Collective?

We hope to open a small store front/workshop space soon! It’s our dream! But we are a self-started business and to start anything in Los Angeles, in all transparency, requires so much capital and immense patience. But, we are trying every day to achieve our big ideas and hopefully 2020 is our year! We also want to go visit our farmers farms and California creameries and create content that shares our excitement and passion for what we do. We have so many other passions and directions within Sorella… The sky is truly the limit.

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, what are your plans and tips to create a festive board?

For Thanksgiving, we recommend highlighting fall produce! We also think adding greenery like red devils, wheat, and zinnias adds to that fall feeling you can create on a charcuterie or cheese board! To get even more fall colors, add orange dried apricots. Also in season right now is pomegranates! Crack it open and style it on your board. They are like little gems. We think the idea for people at home who really want to have a standout Thanksgiving board, is to use gourds or little pumpkins on the board. Start with those decorations then add your cheeses, meat, nuts, etc... Happy Thanksgiving!

Savannah Di Marco, founder of Sorella Collective, wears a wide brimmed hat and a denim button-up shirt. Sorella Collective founder Shelby Di Marco sits on an ivory chair wearing a black top with light floral print.
A large charcuterie board features cheeses, meats, olives, fruits, honey and flowers.
Photography by Sorella Collective