On a sunny June morning in 2005, Neita Wiese‘s life changed in a moment. Her heart literally stopped beating. Her miraculous survival of a life-threatening heart attack is truly a testament to the quick action of co-workers, emergency responders and hospital staff.
What was ironic is that Neita had a career reciting the symptoms that she nearly ignored. She was a National Marketing Director for the American Heart Association (AHA) and she also sold cardiovascular pharmaceuticals. To say that this was a “wake-up” call in her life is an understatement.
“When it started again, I decided to live the rest of my life doing the things I loved and that were important to me.” But how best to do that?
“Tell your story through the delicious vinaigrette you make,” suggested a friend. “It’s a good time to bottle your vinaigrette while you’re in your fuzzy slippers-and-robe mode,” she told Wiese. It was the perfect idea and Neitas Charleston Vinaigrettes & Marinades was born!
Prior to her heart attack, mixing handmade vinaigrettes and marinades was a hobby Neita enjoyed. She often entertained friends with meals marinated and dressed with her healthy homemade vinaigrettes. Guests frequently left requesting the recipes and eventually Neita started bottling the vinaigrettes in recycled wine bottles as gifts.
Wiese’s new life centers on making heart-healthy food, specifically four kinds of vinaigrette-marinades: a garlic, a red wine, a sugar-free citrus and her latest, red pepper. All have zero trans fats and cholesterol, and the citrus has no sugar or sugar substitutes as well. “And it has taste,” she says.
She is a frequent speaker on her survivor story and for the AHA’s “Go Red for Women” program. And, while it’s important for the connection between her “heart-healthy” products and her advocacy for healthy hearts, not everyone gets it. “I definitely know that 85% of the people that buy my products don’t know anything about my story or the fact that they’re heart healthy. They just know that they like them, which is really nice,” Weise said.
What has she created, besides a line of vinaigrettes and marinades? Raving fans, that’s all.
“We have fallen in love with Neita and her heart healthy vinaigrettes and marinades. Our customers are very vocal about HALLS keeping it in stock at all times.”
Halls Kansas City · Kansas City, MO
It’s one thing to have passion about a business. It’s quite another to put your whole heart into it, especially when it helps others.