Kim Oster Holstein

President/CEO and CIO (Chief Inspiration Officer), Kim & Scott’s Gourmet Pretzels

Kim Holstein leads a twisted life. Much like the dough in her company’s signature pretzels, everything in her world seems intertwined.

And as an entrepreneur, that’s just how Kim likes it. Mixing social responsibility with her business has been central to the company’s success, and mixing her private and personal lives keeps her venture moving forward.

“It all happened at the same time,” Kim recalls.

While working in advertising in the ‘90s, the Houston native started baking pretzels in her kitchen. Then, she took a class on starting a business at the Women’s Business Development Center in Chicago. In the years that followed, she met her husband, Scott, and they launched the business together.

Now, after 15 years, you can find Kim and Scott’s all natural gourmet soft pretzels in major chains and grocery stores. The company has been celebrated in numerous media outlets, and Kim has received many honors. The company had a stand in the Kohl Children’s Museum for four years, and recently opened a pretzel café in Lincoln Park.

In addition to being successful, Kim has demonstrated enormous commitment to social responsibility: “Good must come from every pretzel sold,” she says. The company’s philanthropy includes: 100,000 pretzel sticks donated to school fundraisers last year, a pink ribbon pretzel for breast cancer, regular fundraising nights at the café, and green initiatives.

Kim and Scott also nurture other entrepreneurs. They speak to groups and schools, and have written a children’s book. Through it all, they’ve stayed happily married with three kids.

The result is a fully integrated life Kim loves: “Growing up, people said, ‘Keep work and life separate.’ I don’t believe that’s right for everyone. We like it all twisted together.”