The Wise Pies Pizza brand has seen its fair share of growing pains. Leading them through those changes, selling the restaurant brand and creating a new national frozen food franchise called Wise Choice Foods has been Season Elliott.
Elliott didn’t come from a traditional business background, nor did she ever think she’d be leading a frozen food company. She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a focus on communications and advertising. She moved her family to The Land of Enchantment 14 years ago for a job in marketing at Sandia Casino. “It was a big move for my family, and I told myself I just needed to stick it out for two years.”
After several years in advertising at various companies, working as a single mom and building a career, she started working for Wise Choice Foods. When the COVID pandemic started in March of last year, the pizza brand wasn’t in any stores. Within six months Wise Pies frozen pizza was in 550 stores across 10 states. For any company, that’s phenomenal growth. “We’ve seen our fair share of challenges in growing a new company from a local brand. The restaurant company had its growing pains. We never stopped working,” she said. Elliott is now the president of Wise Choice Foods.
Case in point is how quickly she grew the pizza brand. Elliott says there was a need for pizza with natural ingredients that used Hatch green chile. Wise Pies pizza is also the first and only frozen pizza brand from New Mexico, and the only national brand to use green chile. The pizza can be found in stores such as Whole Foods, Albertson’s and Smiths.
Slowing down doesn’t seem to be in Elliott’s vocabulary. While the manufacturing and distribution channels the pizza company works with are largely male-dominated, she hasn’t been deterred. “I don’t approach the relationships we have in the manufacturing space as a woman. I look at situations as an opportunity. When I approach business development aspects, I go in knowing what I need and knowing how I’m going to get it.”
When asked what she thinks is the most important thing to encourage more women to enter leadership positions in the business world, she had this to say: “The most important thing for women to do is to take care of ourselves. Find out what you need to do to become qualified, and make it happen for yourself.” She also believes in the importance of mentorship and learning from those who have the experience you need. “We don’t need the red carpet rolled out for us, and I don’t think I should be offered a position because of my gender. What we need is equal consideration for equal qualification.”
If the past year of doing business in a pandemic has taught her anything, it’s the value of working through adversity. “With everything that has happened this last year, I love how much we’ve been able to accomplish in such a short time. It’s been a humbling journey for sure, but it’s made the success even sweeter.”