photo - Chef Gerry Castro opens a box of salmon previously delivered by Lacie Richardson, right, at Till Restaurant and Bar on Wednesday, August 31, 2016. Richardson has launched an Alaskan seafood business selling thousands of pounds of fish retail and wholesale to restaurants. Photo by Stacie Scott, The Gazette
Chef Gerry Castro opens a box of salmon previously delivered by Lacie Richardson, right, at Till Restaurant and Bar on Wednesday, August 31, 2016. Richardson has launched an Alaskan seafood business selling thousands of pounds of fish retail and wholesale to restaurants. Photo by Stacie Scott, The Gazette 

Lacie Richardson has spunk. And she doesn't turn a blind eye to adventure.

Consider that during two semesters as an exchange student at University of Alaska Southeast, Richardson went sea kayaking, snowshoeing to a remote cabin at night and ice fishing with a chainsaw. She also worked as a deckhand on a charter boat.

And she came back to the Lower 48 with a passion for fish. So much so that the Colorado Springs native launched Wild Woman Fish Co.

"I started bringing frozen fish to the Springs one box at a time," Richardson, 29, said. "One box became two, then four, then 10, and now I order between 400 to 750 pounds of salmon and halibut from Alaska weekly. ... We hope in our fourth quarter to be moving 4,000 to 5,000 pounds monthly."

Lacie Richardson, owner of Colorado Springs-based Wild Woman Fish Co., spent several years as a crewhand on fishing boats in Alaska. Courtesy photo 

One happy customer is Sheamus Feeley, vice president and culinary director at TILL Farm-Inspired Open Kitchen and Mercantile.

"At TILL, we believe in sourcing food thoughtfully and responsibly, which makes Lacie the perfect partner," he said. "Partnering with someone committed to doing the right thing, for the right reason, is a total no-brainer."

Richardson's business, which began in October 2014, involves much more than simply selling fish. She organizes team-building fishing trips to Alaska for women and is on a speaking circuit where she talks about the fishing industry and how to make it more sustainable and profitable.

Richardson's entrepreneurial spirit runs in the family.

"My grandpa owned a grocery store on 8th Street and Colorado Avenue," she said. "One year he decided to sell fireworks for the Fourth of July. He made more money in that week than he did selling groceries all year. He sold the grocery store and opened Collins Fireworks."

That's where Richardson got her taste for making money.

"I might be the only little girl who could make change when I was a fourth-grader," she quipped.

"My grandma ran the stand, and everyone in the family worked during the July Fourth holiday."

Ann Principe and Missy Balsam (L-R) were participants on the first Wild Woman Adventures in the summer of 2016, a team building fishing trip to Alaska lead by Lacie Richardson. Courtesy photo 

That's also where she got a good dose of work ethic. The money she earned selling fireworks went to buy clothes and supplies for school.

"I learned very early how to provide for myself," she said.

But the motivation that now drives her business came later in life when, during her junior year of high school, she was in a car accident that resulted in serious injuries and took her best friend's life.

"I knew I had to go to college," she said. "Life is too short.

"I was home-schooled for part of a year to get my grades up so I could enroll in college. I had to learn to walk again. All I could think about was college and working."

She put herself through Western State Colorado University in Gunnison, earning a degree in English.

"I got on a payment plan and worked three jobs," she said. "I waitressed, started a cleaning business and managed a small ranch for a family."

After graduation, she headed back to Alaska to work for a commercial fishing boat. For the next six years, she worked on that boat.

In the winters, Richardson migrated to Florida, where she bought a little boat and got a captain's license, which allowed her to lead people on a fishing experience.

An urge to teach led her to Thailand, where she taught English to 3-year-olds for a year.

And now, back home in Colorado Springs, her story continues to evolve.

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Cheat Smoked Salmon

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Yield: 2 servings

1 (8-ounce) fillet of salmon 1/2 cup store-bought teriyaki marinade 1/4 fresh lemon 1 clove chopped garlic Fresh ground black pepper, to taste 1/2 cup brown sugar (optional) 1 cedar plank or apple wood chips

Procedure:

Squeeze lemon into marinade. Add garlic and pepper. Marinate fillet in the teriyaki 15 minutes to 2 hours The thicker the salmon fillet, the longer you can marinate it.

You can add dark brown sugar to the fillet while it is marinating. Just make sure to wipe off sugar before grilling.

Heat grill to medium. For gas grill, use a cedar plank that has been pre-soaked for 15 minutes. Place salmon on plank and grill 10 minutes per inch of fish until flaky.

For charcoal grill, heat coals until they are no longer black, but gray. Pre-soak applewood chips in a bowl of water for 15 minutes. Take a handful of chips and throw them on the coals. Put salmon fillet skin side down on the grill and cook 10 minutes per inch of fish until flaky.

Source: Lacie Richardson, Wild Women Fish Co.

Q & A WITH LACIE RICHARDSON

Question: What are 10 words to describe you?

Answer: Driven, hard-working, compassionate, humanitarian, loyal, understanding, disciplined, creative, fun, spontaneous.

Q. Hardest lesson you've learned?

A. You can't fix people. You can't change them; you can only change yourself. The more you change, the more it indirectly affects and helps others around you whether they know it or not.

Q. Favorite local ingredient?

A. Oddly enough, my friend owns Kulture Superfoods and makes kale chips that are the best snack in the world. I put his kale chips on everything from eggs to salmon.

Q. One food you detest?

A. Stink head, which is a rotten seal head that has been buried in the ground for three months. Native Alaskans eat it.

Q. Foods you can't live without?

A. Obviously salmon, and chocolate.

Q. Favorite celebrity chef?

A. Chef Gordon Ramsey.

Q. Best food city in America?

A. I feel like Portland, Ore., has it going on.

Q. Favorite music to cook by?

A. '90s country or old blues.

Q. What show would you pitch to the Food Network?

A. "101 Ways to Cook a Salmon. Or "Boat Cooks" (cooking on a boat)

Q. Current Colorado Springs culinary genius?

A. I would have to say Sheamus Feeley of TILL restaurant. He travels around and not only designs culinary creations as a consultant, but he is a visionary in the food industry.

Q. After-work hangout?

A. CorePower Yoga, baby! Hot yoga. Or Red Leg brewery. If I want to get out of the city, I go hang out with the crew at Corner Post Meats in Black Forest and sit in a field of piglets. It's the best feeling in the world.