Beginning her journey in life in Valparaiso, Indiana, and now serving as the president and owner of Creme de la Crop, Leann Sego has been doing incredible work in the Region for most of her life.
After graduating high school, Sego attended the famed Harrington Institute of Interior Design, enjoying the magical feeling of studying in a city as gorgeous as Chicago when she was in her 20s. Afterward, her time was taken up by commutes between the city and the humble landscape of Valpo, as the architectural firm she started working for had two offices situated in each location respectively.
21 years ago, though, Sego established the business she now operates daily, originally just growing produce organically. As far as the property is concerned, it lies right off of Highway 30 and 250 West on Tower Road and has been in the family for almost 70 years.
Since its inception, everything’s become a big journey for Sego, one she hasn’t been afraid of in the slightest, one that’s welcomed her continual growth alongside that of the company. She’s been able to shine in every possible way.
“I love decision-making, and I'm very creative. It's wonderful, really; it's wonderful being able to just create something, and this is like a sculpture for me. It’s anything that I think of, but it's not just what I think of because it’s also what I hear from the community and what they're wanting. A few years back, we started a skincare line, and our products are now in about 140 boutiques all over the country, and we're overseas as well,” Sego said. “It's wonderful being able to wake up in the morning and say, ‘What do I want to do today? What do I want to create? How are we going to grow the business?’ We get feedback from not just the community directly but those all over the country concerning how people are loving the products and how they make them feel good. It's just a beautiful thing in general.”
It’s safe to say, however, that it has not always been smooth sailing for Sego and her business. In order to see her intentions and goals realized, it’s all been a matter of planting the proper seeds in the most stable plot of soil, then proceeding to patiently watch it all grow.
“When I first started the business, it was just growing produce for the community. At one point, I was doing it on a level of having thirty acres of field production, and we would sell to Stracks and restaurants. At first, there was the fear that we might have a bad year with drought or difficulty filling positions,” Sego said. “During that time, when I was just doing agriculture, there were days that we were just praying for rain, days where we worried we would not be able to provide people with what they anticipated. Then I shifted things. Now, we only grow in raised beds with drip irrigation and compost, for example, which has changed things substantially.”
“With agriculture, it's really like a break-even-type of thing because people are only willing to pay for so much. The big change that I made was creating the skincare line, which has eliminated challenges and allowed my margins to be very good,” Sego said. “Now, we're about ready to purchase some acreage, expand the store, and even put a commercial kitchen in. I've made a lot of changes over the course of time, and it’s all worked out for the better, thankfully.”
Along with those memories of hardship comes the feeling of satisfaction, as well as a sense of accomplishment. Perseverance is key, and for Sego, realizing that has made all the difference.
“It's a lot of hard work. I didn't just jump right in, so to say. There have been times when I was just about ready to give up, but what’s important to remember is that you simply have to keep going. I've often thought long and hard, ‘How am I going to make this work?’ It’s all a matter of brushing yourself off and figuring it out, and I’m fortunate enough to say that I indeed figured it out,” Sego said.
While one of her favorite things about her job is the opportunity she’s given to assist and speak with customers, outside of work, Sego is sure to stay busy and stimulated simultaneously.
She and her husband are die-hard foodies, always enjoying the simple pleasure of a night consisting of a dinner date. Because her husband is a 14-year veteran, he’s done quite a bit of traveling, just as Sego has, but their desire to put even more of the pieces of the puzzle of the world together is still up there on their to-do list.
“My husband and I, we do a lot. When we're cooking dinner together, we like to listen to music and just dance around and have a nice time and just enjoy life. We go on hikes with our dogs, relishing every acre of the property. Compared to a lot of other people, we just have a different kind of lifestyle. We do everything here, honestly. There's really not a lot of reason to leave unless we're going someplace to experience something that we can't get here,” she said.
Family has played an integral role in Sego’s life in both the business and personal side of affairs. It’s clearly an essential part of who she is, making it all the more worthwhile.
“I have so many memories with my grandparents. My grandfather and grandmother on my dad's side are 100% German, and then my grandparents on my husband’s mother's side are Hungarian, so I have so many memories of cooking with them, driving around on tractors,” she said. “It's like this property is part of my soul.”
If you would like to find out more about Sego and the amazing work she does, you can find all the information you need at this website: https://cremedelacrop.com.