Solange Comer

  • Owner

    Cultured Slice LLC Cheese Shop & Sandwich Shop

  • Locations

    229 PCH, Hermosa Beach
    136 Pier Ave., Hermosa Beach

  • Phones

    424-390-8153  |  424-237-2032

  • Website | Social
    FB: cultured slice-cheese shop
    IG: @cultured_slice

  • Special Section

    Women of the South Bay

Solange Comer has always been interested in food, making things look pretty and feeding people. For years her dinner party guests would suggest she start her own catering business. After teaching preschool for 22 years, she retired from that career and started selling cheese and charcuterie platters that she made at home. Her dream of operating her own food store came true in 2017 when she opened Cultured Slice Cheese Shop, featuring cheese and charcuterie from around the world. This summer she opened Cultured Slice Sandwich Shop. Both stores also offering catering services.

Why did you choose to start your business?

I grew up in the South Bay and remember there was cheese shop here in the ’80s. When I decided to make a career change, I thought about the possibility of opening my own cheese shop and filling that void. It was crazy, daring and something I knew nothing about (other than my own love for cheese and charcuterie). But I had nothing to lose and so much to gain. 

My dad had just started hospice, and I told him about my crazy idea. He loved it. He believed in me and said, “Go for it, kiddo.” That’s all I needed to take a giant leap of faith with something that terrified me. I chose to take this path to push myself. To try something new. To service the community that I grew up in and love so much. And to make my dad proud.

What is the #1 thing you do to ensure your business is successful? 

Be on site and have excellent customer service. The public likes to see the proprietor of the business behind the counter. It’s important to me to be at the shops to establish relationships with my customers. I like being able to greet everyone by their first name and know what they order. My customers are why I am still in business and why I have been successful. Offering the very best customer service is a small way to say thank you.

What has been the most significant barrier in your career? 

Honestly, myself. I get in my own way a lot, and sometimes it takes me a while to clear the path. I am an overthinker at times, and that can hinder creativity, progress and growth. 

How do you find time to fit it all in? 

I get asked this question often, and my answer is: I have no idea! I tend to thrive on chaos, and the busier I am, the more I get done. Not only do I have the two businesses, I am on the executive board for the Hermosa Beach Chamber, and I have a 16-year-old son. Life is busy, but I love it.

What role does your family play in your career? 

My mom has had a huge role in my foodie career. She is an incredible cook and shared many family recipes with me. She would feed me grown-up foods as a small child and expand my palate whether I liked it or not. I was eating Stilton cheese at the age of 2, and my mother would catch me with my hand in the pickled onion jar. Lamb chops and mint sauce, pâté and many assorted cheeses were often for dinner. 

I am self-taught, but I do attribute my French-Italian background and being born in Brazil to influencing my culinary journey. I was lucky to have so many amazing European and South American food and drink influences growing up. They definitely contributed to my love for food and playful approach to flavor combinations and recipes. 

One of my all-time favorite memories is from my grandmother’s kitchen in Brazil with my mom, grandmother and great-grandmother making gnocchi. My great-grandmother spoke Italian and only very broken English, but she and I found a way to understand each other. No matter what language you speak, you can understand food. It connects people, and that’s important to me. I honestly believe I was destined to be in the food world. And owning a cheese shop ain’t so bad either! 

What advice do you give your kids?

Dream big and persist. And never say never! As a parent I want my child to be happy and thrive. So to do that, I say think big and outside the box. Surround yourself with people who make you feel good about who you are and what you do. Those will be the people who will help you stay true to what you believe in, and to yourself.

How do you balance work and play?

I am pretty sure my balance is off, but I believe “you gotta work hard to play hard.” Right now my work life is outweighing my play life, but I expected that after recently opening my second location. I did manage to sneak away to Mexico after my grand opening for a much-needed vacation with my son, Max. My businesses mean everything to me, but remembering to take time for my family and myself is just as important. If these last few years have taught me anything, it’s to not take time for granted and to take the chance. Eat the cheese. Book the vacation. And put 110% into everything you do. 

What are some of your favorite ways to stay grounded? 

Having my feet in the sand and the sun on my face. The beach has always been my happy place. And music grounds me when I feel like I am floating around trying to figure out what’s next. I have pretty cool stacks of old vinyl from my dad’s collection and my own that I love to spin on my player. There’s just something soothing about when the needle drops and the sound of the crackle.