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Six Sisters: Building an Empire

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sisters headshotsThe empire known as Six Sisters’ Stuff emerged from the sharp minds and creative palates of a half-dozen siblings raised in Layton, Utah. Divided by 12 years and spread out roughly two years apart, Camille, Kristen, Elyse, Stephanie, Lauren, and Kendra are about to publish their eighth cookbook as they continue to grow their brand throughout the country via social media, demonstration videos, and in-person events.

“Our recipes are family favorites that use ingredients commonly found in your pantry,” the six Adamson sisters say. “Our crafts and home decor projects can be made with little or no money. We don’t claim to be amazing chefs—we just know the importance of feeding your family a home-cooked meal and sitting down to eat it together.”

The Six Sisters all have ties to Utah State University—including their grandfather, and father Larry, who earned degrees from USU—but it was the oldest Adamson daughter, Camille, whose experience helped pave the way for four of her younger sisters to become Aggies. “I loved being up there, and I loved that I had other sisters up there with me, too,” Stephanie says.


What were mealtimes like when you were growing up?

Stephanie: There was always a homemade meal on the table at (almost) the same time every single night. The phone was always taken off the hook, or later on it was always a rule that there were no phones allowed at the table. It was a time for us to reconnect, talk about our days, and enjoy good food.

Lauren: Consistent! There are only a handful of times I remember us not eating together with a home-cooked meal.

Kendra: Mealtimes growing up, always took priority. Since my dad didn’t have any sons, he wanted us to all play sports, so each of us were involved in various sports and activities, but we knew that every night around 5:30 p.m., dinner would be on the table and we were expected to be there. It was a great time and opportunity for us to communicate … Plus, enjoy delicious food, which is probably where our love for food and cooking began.

 

How did the Six Sisters’ Stuff get started? And did you consider any other names?


Elyse: Six Sisters’ Stuff started in 2011 after we had all moved to different parts of the country and were in different phases of life. My husband and I had just moved to California with a 6-week-old baby, and I quickly learned how frequently babies sleep during the day. I loved reading blogs online and thought it would be a great way to stay in touch with my sisters and share things that we love. I had originally planned on naming the blog “Everything Ellis,” (I obviously have a thing for alliterations) but including something that referenced all six of us seemed much more fitting.

Kendra: Six Sisters’ Stuff started as a way to keep in touch with each other. We had no intentions of making it into a full-time job for the six of us. It was just a blog to share recipes and funny stories about our dating lives and kids. We chose “stuff” because we didn’t just have one thing to share with each other, we were sharing all our favorite things, stories, memories, recipes, crafts, hair and beauty tips, etc. … we still like to share our recipes, but there is so much more we like to talk about and share.


Where do you find inspiration for recipes?

Camille: For me, inspiration comes in times of desperation. I know that I have to get dinner on the table in a short amount of time, and it has to be something that I know my kids will eat and that my husband and I will enjoy as well. I think that it’s a struggle that many parents face, and if I find a good recipe that worked for my family, I am excited to share it and hopefully help out another busy parent out there.

Lauren: Just about everywhere! I spend a lot of time wandering the grocery store, if we’re being honest. My husband also loves to make “requests” to see if I can handle the challenge.

Kendra: I would say my inspiration for recipes comes from things I make up in my head that sound good to me, or from restaurants. I love going out to eat (I know that’s bad to say as a food blogger), but then coming home and recreating it.


How do you manage to do everything “together” when you live apart from one another?

Stephanie: We have a weekly video conference call to help us stay on track and informed about what everyone is working on. We are also in constant contact with each other via texting. If you set down your phone for an hour or two, you’re likely to come back to 100 missed messages.

Lauren: We’d be lost without Google hangouts and iMessage. Also Google Docs, lots of Google Docs!

Kendra: Every Tuesday at 1 p.m. (Utah time) we get on a Google Hangout call. It’s a mandatory meeting and we honestly treat it pretty professional (for six chatty sisters), although we do get off on tangents and start talking about other things. We keep every recipe recorded, and stay on top of what is to come and make sure every sister knows her responsibilities for that week, and what we will be posted and when.


Have you been surprised by your success?

Camille: It’s crazy to me how just six girls from Layton, Utah, can run one of the most popular recipe websites out there. We are just your average moms, taking it one day at a time like everyone else. It’s been an incredible journey.

Elyse: Looking back on some of our older content, I am so surprised at the success of Six Sisters’ Stuff. This blog started out as a hobby and a way to keep in touch and has now turned into a business that supports all of our families. It’s exciting to see it grow, but also to hear how it has helped people in their lives. We have had thousands of people sign up to receive weekly menu plans from us, and they are constantly telling us how it has changed their lives, which is so rewarding.

Steph: Yes! There is a lot of hard work involved and a lot of behind the scenes going on that many people don’t see, but it is still so strange to walk into a store and see our faces on a cookbook.  It’s all kind of surreal.

Kendra: It makes me so proud of my sisters that all our hard work is paying off, and that we can actually help busy moms and students like ourselves make simple recipes. It has been such a blessing, being able to work with my five best friends.


Have you ever been really nervous about a recipe? Perhaps even scared that no one would like it?

Camille: To be honest, I just share the types of recipes that I like, and if no one else likes it, that’s OK. The great thing about a recipe is that you can adapt it and change it to make it into something that you would like, so I figure if they don’t like it, they can play with it until they do!

Elyse: I think anytime you are sharing something with thousands of people, it can be a little bit scary. I think one thing I have learned through this whole experience is that everyone has their own opinion and you will never please everyone. That is, unless you are making our Lunch Lady Peanut Butter Bars. I’ve never met a person who doesn’t love those.

Lauren: There have been a lot of recipes I’ve made that I haven’t posted to the website, or that I’ve remade about 10 times until I feel like it’s good enough to share. Most of the time if my husband asks me to make it again or goes back for seconds, I know I’ve made a good one.


Do you usually agree on recipes? Or are there certain types of food that some of you just don’t like while the others love?

Camille: I think that our differences are what make us more marketable and popular. Do you like healthy recipes? We have a sister who always shares healthy food. Love chocolate? Only cook in your slow cooker?  There really is something for everyone and I think that has played a large part in our success.

Stephanie: I think we can all agree than anything cheesy is bound to be delicious, but we have some sisters that WILL NOT eat seafood and some that just don’t like chocolate. I personally don’t love red sauce or snickerdoodles. I just would rather eat something else.


How would you describe each other’s personalities? Is there a funny one? A serious one? A super smart one? And are there any similar personality traits that seem to run through all of you?

Camille: Something that people always say is that we all sound alike. We also all have the same smile/teeth and part our hair on the same side. Elyse always keeps us laughing with her funny life stories (like roll on the ground laughing), Kristen is such a sweetheart who just loves and serves everyone around her, Lauren has a personality that makes everyone feel comfortable and welcome, Kendra’s heart is the size of Texas and she cares deeply for everyone around her, and Steph is incredibly smart and so good at photography (and she doesn’t give herself enough credit.)

Stephanie: We learned a great work ethic from our parents. Camille is secretly really funny, but Elyse and Lauren have the FUNNIEST things happen to them. I feel like maybe I’m the serious one?

Lauren: We have a lot in common, but we’re all so different. Steph is the super smart one and really good at figuring things out. Kristen might be one of the more serious ones, but she’s also extremely passionate and driven. Elyse is probably the funny one and she always has a good story. Camille is definitely the peacemaker (I think it comes with being the oldest!) but she’s secretly really funny and kind of sassy. And Kendra is like a combination of all of them, but she’s super passionate about anything she puts her mind to. Hopefully I’m not the boring one!


Tell us your favorite go-to dish to prepare on a weeknight.

Camille: My go-to recipe that I make a few times a month is our 20 Minute Skillet Lasagna. All the flavor of lasagna without all the work. It’s a dish that my whole family loves and I love how quickly I can throw it together at the end of a busy day.

Stephanie: Right now, my favorite is Elyse’s Skinny BBQ Chicken Tostadas. I always have the ingredients on hand, and my kids always eat it!

Lauren: We’ve been making the Slow Cooker Ritz Chicken like once a week, it’s so yummy and way easy.

Kendra: I love the Easy Chicken and Broccoli Casserole on our site. It’s a great way to sneak in some vegetables, and it tastes so good.


On your website you state: “We are family and friends.” When you are all together, what’s that like?

Camille: We try to make it up to Bear Lake once a year, and it’s so fun to reconnect as a family (outside of work) and let all of our kids play together and have fun with their cousins. At the end of the day, family is more important than anything else that we do.

Stephanie: We get together at least once a year, and when we do it is SO, so loud. There’s at least three different conversations happening all at once, and when you add all of our kids to the mix, it just gets that much more crazy. There’s always a lot of food, delicious beverages, and lots of love.

Kendra: When we are all together, it is LOUD. There is talking, eating, and laughing. We love getting together and just remembering the good old days, and laughing about life.


Is there anything you would like us to know about that you have coming up in the future?

Kendra: We have another cookbook coming out in September. We are thinking it might be our last, but also … our best. It’s going to be a perfect book for beginners or budgeters.

Stephanie: Our—final?—cookbook is launching in the fall. And hopefully an online cooking course by the end of July.


Any humorous or noteworthy memories of Utah State University and your college experience? Especially any–good or bad–that involve food?

Camille: If people remember the kind of food that I made for myself as a college student—I mostly survived on bowls of cereal and peanut butter on tortillas—they might really question the credibility of our website and cookbooks. But my experience at Utah State was incredible. I had the chance to be an Ambassador. I was one of those tour guides who was walking backwards around campus to show potential students around, and I also got to serve a lot of Aggie Ice Cream. At the end of an event, they would always send us home with the leftover buckets of ice cream, which instantly made me the most popular girl on the street (poor college students + free ice cream = instant friends). Some of my happiest years of my life were spent at Utah State, and I love being able to share those traditions with them. My kids are definitely Aggies-in-training!

Kristen: Going to college was the first time in my life that I had to cook on my own. I remember calling my mom and asking her for specific instructions on how to make a recipe to impress a boy (who later became my husband). I’m not saying it was the recipe that sealed the deal, but it might have helped!

Stephanie: There’s nothing I loved more than a thick slice of Hazel’s bread with Nutella in the dead of winter—or a Marv ‘n Joe! My husband and I spent a lot of lunches at the Sky Room during our first year of marriage while he was finishing up his master’s degree. I think the most memorable, though, was when I took a basic cooking class, and when it was my turn to be the “head chef” for the day, I rushed to grab the salmon out of the oven as quickly as possible without realizing I didn’t have oven mitts on! I ended up burning seven of my fingerprints off. Let’s just say I’ve learned my lesson, and my cooking has only improved since then.

By Jeff Hunter ’96
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