Vicki Lees

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by Ellie Anglin

by Ellie Anglin


Vicki Lees is building a soup empire. In this she has taken inspiration from her German heritage and her Oma, Marie Horn, who passed away in 2011.

The name of her soup brand is Essen, the German word for “Eat”. It’s tagline is “Just like Oma used to Make”. Her logo, designed by John Kutt, evokes German folk art. This history comes through in the food itself. She’s taken some of her Oma’s secret recipes - borscht, pierogies, potato dumpling and paprika soup - and puts her personal imprint on them.

Her Oma was also the inspiration behind this tattoo, one that she got for practical, aesthetic and personal reasons. Over coffee recently Vicki told me the story behind the tattoo:

“It’s a cover up tattoo” Vicki explains. “I had this really, really, really dated, non-timeless ‘90s stamp tattoo.”

“What was that of?” I ask her.

“It was the Chinese symbol for goodness and beauty.”


“But it was the size of a quarter. So it looked really bad on my arm.”

For the record, I remember when Vicki had this former tattoo, on her left bicep, and it never looked bad to me. But I get it - we’re always more critical of our own appearances, and the stylistic choices of our younger selves - than others are of us.

Vicki wanted to cover the old design, and she wanted a watercolour tattoo - a new-ish style that has a more fluid, dreamlike look when compared to the stark definition of traditional tattoos.

But why the poppy?

“I got it for my Oma. She was the sweetest most wonderful woman. She was quite a gardener, and loved her poppies. She and my Opa lived on Hickory and Hazel Street [an area in Waterloo now populated with student rentals]. Over the years students would walked by and marvel at her garden, which she loved. A lot of them even called her Oma. It was so cute. When she passed away I wanted to get something special and meaningful for her, and so I thought it was a good opportunity to get the poppy.” Vicki adds, “I think about her all the time.”


Books for Tats

Your grandma always knew soup was good for the soul. Bone broth is one of mankind's oldest foods—and healthiest, boasting one of the most complete nutritional profiles of any food on earth. Get stared your own pot of stock simmering with the help of this book.

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The Bare Bones Broth Cookbook

by Katherine and Ryan Harvey