IT veteran takes her skills from business to culinary
Dallas chef Michelle Spangler loves to add her own flavor to anything she does.
As the owner of Infused Oils and Vinegars on Preston Road, Spangler, 58, runs a bright orange store filled with wall to wall with over 50 infused oils and vinegars, as well as other kitchen products such as salts. and teas.
But the Louisiana native’s career didn’t start with food. Prior to purchasing infused oils and vinegars, she worked at Texas Instruments Inc. for over 20 years.
Fresh out of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette in 1983, Spangler worked in the TI defense team as a programmer on the Tomahawk missile, a weapon used in Operation Desert Storm in 1991. She worked on the guidance system for autonomous target recognition.
She then moved to TI’s semiconductor division in Houston, dealing with plant and business planning. After five years in Houston and starting a family, Spangler ventured into a new role with TI: cell phones. The “place to be,” she called it, and Spangler was responsible for loading factories to deliver millions of semiconductors to build Nokia, Ericsson, and Samsung phones.
She was often the only woman in the room.
“I was really in a place where there weren’t any women in management,” Spangler said. “Texas Instruments then understood that this was a problem. And so for me, I ended up in the right place at the right time because they were looking for women who could be successful in the jobs they needed.
She remembers once being in a peer group at work and hearing a coworker say, “Well, we all know who’s going to get the promotion here. “
“I refuse to apologize for the fact that TI was trying to solve a problem that they needed women – they needed to hire more female engineers and give them positions of authority,” Spangler said.
Its former COO, Jan DeMeulder, says Spangler did everything “with purpose” at TI.
“She was very open to tough tasks and changing the way things are done,” DeMeulder said.
Spangler said Texas Instruments has taken steps to change the work environment for women. According to a 2019 company report, 33% of the company’s board members were women, 13% of profit and loss positions were women, and 33% of direct reports to the CEO were women.
As his two children grew older, Spangler decided it was time to put family before career. In 2000, she submitted her resignation to the company, but it was refused.
Instead, the company offered him a year off. She took it and returned to TI at the end of the leave. In 2005, she was ready to make a final exit.
“I was ready,” Spangler said. “Texas Instruments can be a demanding environment. I knew I missed so much of what my kids were doing. And I had to be there for them.
Originally from southern Louisiana, Spangler grew up in “Cajun country”. At home, she loves to cook okra and crayfish stew.
In 1995, Spangler and his then 90-year-old grandmother published a cookbook titled Cook til Done, Recipes of Cajun Cuisine, in homage to her family’s long line of Cajun cooks. The book sold 1,200 copies in Louisiana.
A few years after leaving TI, Spangler’s husband encouraged her to return to school to pursue her passion for cooking.
In 2009, she enrolled at the Art Institute of Dallas for her associate degree in culinary arts. She said she often felt like the “mother” in her classes, as many of her colleagues were college-aged students.
The cooking industry is also dominated by men, with around 58.2% of professional cooks being men, according to 2019 census data.
She took classes at 6:30 am in order to have time to devote to her children. In just three years, she became a certified chef.
She accepted a position as executive chef at Family Gateway’s Annette G. Strauss Family Center, preparing two meals for 100 to 150 people per day.
“I applied online and 10 minutes later the Family Gateway manager called me and said, ‘Are you real?’ Spangler said with a laugh.
She spent a year cooking for homeless families. “Serving the under-served communities is something that is close to my heart,” said Spangler.
In search of her next adventure, she spent time in catering to earn money. One day, a friend approached her to be the chef for a tasting session at a silent auction. She started doing regular tastings for 10 to 12 people at a company in Addison called EVOO and VIN, for extra virgin olive oil and vinegar.
She fell in love with the product and bought the store from its former owner in 2017. Spangler said she only saw a profit on the business for a year and a half after buying it. She renamed it Infused Oils and Vinegars and then moved the store to its current location.
A career that continues
Spangler runs the store with manager Kristi Doss, who has been with the company since the original owner. Spangler and Doss offer recipes and offer in-store tastings.
“I think a lot of your specialty stores are going to be proudly run by women helping to make people’s lives a little easier,” Doss said.
The store generates just under $ 300,000 in revenue annually.
Spangler said she tends to look to other female-owned vendors. She has met many businesswomen through her involvement in the Dallas Executives Association, of which she is the new vice-president.
The store was closed from March 16 to May 1 due to pandemic restrictions, but was maintained thanks to income from online sales and weekly Friday refills on oil and vinegar products.
Spangler says foot traffic is starting to look like it was before the pandemic.
“We were in trouble,” Spangler said. “And now people are finding us. We are building a community. We are building a presence in Dallas, Texas.