reusable handmade cloth bowl jar dish covers for sourdough bread baking at home in washington state usa from Ali Fitzgerald of Wild Clementine Co on Instagram

Interview With Ali From @WildClementineCo on Instagram

Welcome to The Sourdough People, a haven for sourdough bread enthusiasts! We are thrilled to bring you an exclusive interview with Ali Fitzgerald from @WildClementineCo, a creative entrepreneur whose passion for sourdough baking and sustainable living has inspired many. In this engaging conversation, Ali shares her journey from Staunton Virginia to the wheat fields of Walla Walla Washington, and how her love for food and nature led her to create Wild Clementine Co. Get ready to dive into her sourdough journey, the health challenges she has faced, and her big plans for the future. Ali’s story is a testament to resilience, creativity, and the joy of baking, so let’s get to know her better!

Please tell us where you are from and what you love about where you live?

I was originally born and raised in Staunton, Virginia, a charming city with its own unique character. However, I have since made the move to the scenic outskirts of Walla Walla, Washington. Here, I find myself enveloped by an expanse of wheat fields that stretch as far as the eye can see. Eastern Washington is particularly fascinating due to its abundance of dryland wheat fields. The landscape is vast and awe-inspiring, offering a multitude of sources for grains and flours. This region is rich in agricultural diversity, and I’m constantly amazed by the variety of grains and flours available, each with its own distinct flavor and baking properties. It’s a baker’s paradise, and I feel fortunate to be surrounded by such natural abundance.

Ali, what initially sparked your interest in sourdough baking, and how did you begin your journey?

First and foremost, I’m a foodie. Nothing beats fresh, homegrown, and homemade in my book. When we purchased our home, it came with enough land for a large garden and orchard. It also had an old outbuilding that was already set up for chickens. I dove headfirst into gardening and got my first flock of chickens and the rest is history. Along with growing a lot of our food, I started learning various crafts like making soap, yogurt, and of course, sourdough. I’ve yet to fully master the sourdough process but I enjoy it and as long as I can make a decent focaccia or sourdough loaf, that’s fine with me.

How has being based in Washington state added to your sourdough journey?

Where I live, I’m surrounded on all sides by dryland wheat fields. It was really interesting to learn how wheat is grown through modern agriculture. The downside was learning the nitty gritty, lesser known aspects such as the year-round aerial herbicide spraying and other detrimental impacts of conventional monoculture wheat production. This along with being diagnosed with stage 4 rectal cancer continued to push me towards learning more about our food systems and how to eat heathier.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your journey to starting Wild Clementine Co?

I’ve always been an entrepreneur at heart even though it took 25 years to realize it. As a kid, I had three separate businesses (selling homemade dog biscuits and jewelry in elementary school as well as a macrame business in high school). The very beginning of my current business stems back to ten years ago when I started an Etsy shop where I made custom dog beds and hand-dyed leashes. I had no intention of having a “real” business but somehow it slowly evolved into just that. The pet supplies were fun but I became burned out with all the custom work and eventually realized I didn’t want to keep doing it. Around 6 years ago, as I got into bread-making, I made my first reusable dish covers for keeping my dough covered. After realizing I wanted to head full force into dish covers, I rebranded to the current version of Wild Clementine Co. that people are familiar with today. In addition to the shop, I work full time as a Fish Biologist by day focusing on headwater stream and river restoration to support ESA-listed steelhead and chinook salmon.

Your products seem to have a unique, artistic touch. How do you blend creativity with functionality in your designs?

At my core, I’m a very practical person so it’s important to me that the products I make and sell are first and foremost, functional. Beyond that, I want my dish covers to bring a smile to your face. Loud prints in a riot of colours is the fun part. Most sustainable products I’ve seen tend to be very plain and boring and I wanted to provide a joyful and fun alternative to the usual beige-y drab side of sustainability. As such, I spend an absurd amount of time tracking down the most colourful, happy, and unique prints that get turned into banneton and bowl covers. When you open your fridge to grab your bread dough or last nights’ leftovers, I want you to get a little dash of joy when you see the reusable covers keeping things fresh.

Sustainability is a core value of your brand. Can you share some of the sustainable practices you’ve implemented in your production process?

For starters, I make reusable dish covers so folks can ditch single use plastic wrap and foil. During the production process, I utilize scraps as best I can to ensure minimal production waste. Remaining scraps get donated as craft supplies.

Sourdough has a rich history and a dedicated community. What role does sourdough play in your product line, and how do you honor its traditions?

While my dish covers can be used for all kinds of cooking and food storage, they’ve been most popular with bakers and specifically the sourdough community. Like most of my Instagram community and customers, I love a good sourdough loaf (who doesn’t?). I don’t bake nearly as much as some, but I definitely love the process of making a fresh loaf of bread or focaccia! It’s really gratifying to take four simple ingredients and turn them into something delicious and healthy with such little effort. It’s a lost art in some ways.

You’ve mentioned a connection between creativity and mental health. Can you elaborate on how this relationship has shaped your work and life?

I’ve always been in love with science and have both a B.S. and a M.S in Fisheries Science. While I love science and the analytical side of things, I’ve always had a creative side too. My day job as a biologist covers my love of science but my shop gives me the opportunity to embrace my creative side. Every dish cover I make is a product of my ideas and incorporating gorgeous fabrics to make a functional, happy product. Having ADHD, my mind tends to go a mile a minute and I can get bored easily. Running a business requires so many skills and feels like a giant puzzle that I need to solve. It keeps my brain engaged and allows me to be creative in how I continue to build Wild Clementine Co.

Running a business comes with its ups and downs. Can you share some challenges you’ve faced and how you’ve overcome them?

Ooph. So many. I bootstrapped my way through growing Wild Clementine Co. So everything from learning how to build a website, to running a booth at a craft fair, to selling products wholesale to boutiques, to filing my taxes, I’ve taught myself while balancing a day job. It’s been bumpy and there have been so many nights where I’ve felt defeated or overwhelmed. I’ve had designs copied more times than I can count, I’ve had trademarks denied, I’ve had income streams flat line. While I don’t have everything figured out, one thing I can pride myself on is my grit and determination. I’ll keep showing up and doing my thing as long as it brings me joy.

How do you hope to inspire or impact others through your work with Wild Clementine Co?

At the end of the day, I want your dish covers to bring a little pop of colour and a smile to your face. I’m a firm believer that we should find happiness in the little things and to me, that’s as simple as opening the fridge to dig out your bread dough for your next bake. I love textile patterns and lots of colour. So when you open your fridge, instead of reaching for something covered in plastic wrap, you get to see a colourful, handmade dish cover keeping your food fresh and knowing that you’re simultaneously reducing single use plastic waste.

Looking ahead, what are your aspirations for Wild Clementine Co, and are there any exciting projects or developments on the horizon?

Soooo many plans. 2023 was a year of survival and I had to basically table all of my big plans and focus on my health. My hope is that in 2024, I can get back to what I love and bring my ideas to fruition. I plan to bring multiple products to the shop that I simply haven’t had time to fully launch yet. I have a few big collabs planned as well (can’t share the details yet!). Anddddd in June, my dish covers will be featured in a mainstream cooking magazine which is mind-blowing. Moving forward, I hope to potentially build a team so I can continue to crank out dish covers as well as a variety of other colourful, handmade goodies.

You’ve mentioned facing health and medical challenges. Are there any experiences or insights you’d like to share with the sourdough community and your customers?

2023 was the worst year of my life. Instead of entering the new year with hopes and aspirations for what I might accomplish in 2023, I started off the year with a stage 4 rectal cancer diagnosis despite no family history or genetic risk factors. I endured ten rounds of chemo, pelvic radiation (leading to early menopause), a liver resection, a bowel resection, temporary ostomy, and most recently an ostomy reversal. Statistically, I have a 50/50 shot of being dead within 5 years which is a level of terror I can’t begin to fully describe. My current scans are clean but cancer is insidious and every 3 months, I get new scans and cross my fingers they stay clean. It’s been incredibly hard trying to continue to live my life while simultaneously feeling like there’s an axe hanging over my head but I’m doing my best. I’ve shared my story openly on Instagram and have been absolutely stunned and amazed by how many people have shown up to support me. I’ve met a ton of folks that have also had to navigate cancer diagnoses and other challenges. The community behind Wild Clementine Co. truly helped me survive 2023 and I don’t know how to put into words just how important that is to me. At the end of the day, I’ve learned to just keep putting one foot in front of the other. Oh, and get your colonoscopies folks!

How have these challenges influenced your approach to your work and life?

I’ve been trying to get a better work/life balance. Easier said than done though. Right now, I’m working on giving myself grace when I don’t have the energy to do everything I want and all I can do is sit on the couch. It’s a season of life and I’m hopeful that I’ll get on the other side and continue putting one foot in front of the other. So if I don’t post regularly on Instagram or I release a new print a bit later than I planned, so be it.

How can people support and engage with Wild Clementine Co beyond purchasing products?

You can always find me primarily on Instagram @WildClementineCo. Whether folks want dish covers or just want to see the behind-the-scenes, recipes, and general day to day aspects of my shop and life, that’s the easiest place to find me.

Is there anything else Ali that you would like the community to know about you or things you would like the readers to potentially purchase or subscribe to?

I have big plans for 2024, and while Instagram is a wonderful platform, my email newsletter is the primary channel where I’ll be sharing all the new product launches and other exciting updates for Wild Clementine Co. I encourage everyone to join the email list here. I personally draft and send all the emails from Wild Clementine Co., so if you ever want to start a conversation, all you need to do is hit reply to one of those emails, and I’ll be on the other end to chat.

In Closing

A huge thank you to Ali from @WildClementineCo for sharing her inspiring journey with us. It’s been a delight to learn about her passion for sourdough, sustainability, and the beautiful products she creates. If you’re as captivated by Ali’s story as we are, make sure to follow her on Instagram for a daily dose of creativity and sourdough goodness.

We also invite you to follow The Sourdough People on Instagram at and use our intake form to share your unique sourdough stories with us. Don’t forget to subscribe to our sourdough bread email newsletter for regular updates. Until next time, keep your starter bubbly and your loaves crusty – because life’s too short for half-baked ideas!

Photo credits go to Camille Docena Photography at, Tiffany Maxey Photography at, and Sarah Heppell Photography at

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *