Salty Girl(s) of the Month: At home on the ocean with the Salmon Sisters

Since we launched Salty Girl Seafood, one of the first things that people say is how much they love the name. Often we are asked, what does it mean to be a Salty Girl?  

salty: of the sea, sailing or life at sea

This is the first of in a series of blogs honoring our kindred Salty Girls--women whose lives and livelihoods revolve around all things ocean. We’re excited to introduce you to Emma and Claire of Salmon Sisters. We first met the Salmon Sisters early on in the history of Salty Girl, and we knew right away that these were our people. This pair is the ultimate embodiment of what it means to be a Salty Girl: bold, adventurous, entrepreneurial. Ocean-lovers who are passionate about protecting natural resources and having fun doing it! We couldn’t think of a better duo to kick off this series with.

Emma Teal Laukitis & Claire Neaton, Salmon Sisters

Emma Teal Laukitis & Claire Neaton, Salmon Sisters

Emma and Claire grew up on a homestead in Alaska and have worked alongside their parents fishing in the Bering Sea since they were young. The sisters have shared their love of wild things--salmon, land, and sea--with thousands of people through their seafood and apparel company, Salmon Sisters. We are inspired by their intimate connection to the sea and their ability to share their passion with the greater community through art, seafood, storytelling. And of course, their genuinely positive and awesome selves.

SG: What do you love most about the ocean?

SS: We love the way the ocean is constantly testing us, challenging us, but also providing for us and inspiring us. It’s a relationship that’s constantly being strengthened with each season we spend fishing on it. We also love the community that forms around the ocean, coastal communities, and most of all, fishing communities.

SG: Who first got you hooked on the sea?

SS: We grew up on a homestead on the shores of the North Pacific Ocean &  the Bering Sea, so we were hooked very young. Our lives revolved around the sea, whether we were digging for clams at low tide, taking a walk through the kelp, or fishing on the water with our family, so we’ve always depended upon it for our explorations, our livelihood, our community, and our mode of transportation.

SG: When you’re not on the ocean, what are you doing?

SS: We run Salmon Sisters, a seafood and apparel business inspired very directly by the ocean and our lifestyle as commercial fishermen. In summer months we’re fishing for salmon and halibut in Alaska, and in the winter months Claire is holding down the fort at Salmon Sisters in Homer, AK and Emma is currently in graduate school at the University of Washington in Seattle, getting her Masters in Design.

SG: When you close your eyes and think about your favorite time on the water, what do you see?

SS: Days in late summer when our whole family is on the boat together halibut fishing in the Bering Sea. We’ve been fishing like this for most of our lifetime together, so the work itself has become second nature to us and we can instead watch seabirds in the wind, walrus and whales in the waves, and enjoy good conversation on the backdeck while we clean fish and bait hooks.

Claire Neaton & Emma Teal Laukitis, Salmon Sisters

Claire Neaton & Emma Teal Laukitis, Salmon Sisters

SG: What’s your favorite seafood recipe?

SS: Our mom’s smoked salmon is something we always miss in the winter or when we’re away from Alaska. On our homestead, she had a smokehouse raised on pilings to keep the fish away from brown bears. She collected driftwood (preferably cottonwood) when we’d go beach combing in our skiff and bring it home to soak and use in her barrel stove. Our dad would bring home fresh King Salmon on his days off from fishing and we would help our mom fillet and strip the salmon, brine the strips in salt and brown sugar, and tie the strips with twine over wooden rods that then hung in the smokehouse for several days while smoking. There’s nothing like that salmon. The smell of it was always on your clothes, in your hair, smokey and delicious.

SG: What do you never leave home without?

SS: Despite our desire to wear cute shoes, they’re just not practical in Alaska. We wear our Xtratuf boots every day, everywhere, that way there are just no surprises and your feet are always happy and dry. We both always have an extra puffy coat or two, always have as many snacks as possible, and always have a notebook and camera for ideas and photos.

Claire Neaton & Emma Teal Laukitis, Salmon Sisters

Claire Neaton & Emma Teal Laukitis, Salmon Sisters

Stay tuned to be inspired for more women who find themselves at home in, on, under, and beside mother ocean.

Is there a Salty Girl in your life? Email us here to share her story with us and nominate her as a monthly Salty Girl!