My first memories with hot sauces really came from eating amazing food growing up in the cultural melting pot of Southern California. Whether it was finding a homemade sambal or sriracha from the Mongolian BBQ or Ramen Joint, to eating a hoard of $.59 street tacos from the taqueria with their buffet of fresh salsas, peppers and heat grabbed me at a young age. I would say a ton of my influences come from emulating that fresh homemade feel into sauces that aren’t just for one particular dish, but can be used with any recipe, any time.
Making the Fxcking Sauce
I dove into the world of creating sauces after experimenting with different salsas from ingredients grown right in my ¼ acre yard. The salsas were good and all but I wanted a better shelf life and because of the love and special place I have in my heart for super-hot sauces, the next logical step was to ferment some peppers and make a shelf stable hot sauce. I did a ton of research into the fermenting process and luckily have a friend of my wife’s named Travis (check out T-Rex Pickles) who pickles and cans anything and everything. So between the wonderful thing known as the World Wide Web and some local resources, I dove in head first and made my first batch with a habanero carrot base. Now, living in Texas, the land of BBQ, I have also become a fan of smoking things over wood. This lead to me slow smoking my peppers, carrots, garlic, and onions over mesquite. After starting the fermenting process with those ingredients, I decided why stop there with the smoke. Let’s smoke some spices for a super long time to impart all that flavor. Needless to say, I was thrilled with the outcome and I came up with my first batch of hot sauce, now known as the Haban(spare)yo Self.
Expanding the Company
With my first sauce, I initially gave it away to family and friends who enjoyed the spicier things in life but kept getting the same response, “You should bottle and sell this.” I was hesitant as I had just launched a Web Design and Marketing Agency in mid-2019. So the idea kind of stayed on the backburner although I was still producing sauces for personal use and gifts to friends. Then COVID happened. The Marketing Agency took a hit as no one had the budget to spend on their web initiatives. Now, I had a lot of downtime on my hands. It was mid spring, I was bored, I was basically gardening and tending to my chickens the majority of the day and all the while had this nagging idea to launch and sell hot sauce. I had one sauce under my belt that people liked and wanted more of so I started brainstorming a few more sauces. After about 5 months of experimenting, I now had come up with a three sauce lineup that everyone around me enjoyed.
The first lesson I learned when creating Fxcking Hot Sauces was to figure out how to break into the market. I had some sauces that I knew could compete with anything that was out here but I was still hesitant. After doing a bit of research into the local market here in Dallas, I noticed there were not that many Craft Hot Sauces companies making any waves. With my background in marketing, I knew I needed a key differentiator besides making an awesome, well balanced, versatile hot sauce. I registered the LLC, got my DBA lined up, and then started creating all the brand assets. Now, when it comes to scaling and growing, after running through my garden, I was fortunate enough to have a farm out here in Arlington (Green’s Plants and Produce) that could supply all the ingredients from local farms in the meantime until I was able to expand my gown garden. They gave me produce in bulk at a fraction of the cost of trying to source as a store which was awesome. Now, the one thing I didn’t take into consideration was that scaling my batches would be a nightmare in my kitchen at home and that's really the first snag I hit when trying to make larger batches. I started searching for kitchen rentals, donut shops (who often will let you rent their kitchen in the afternoons, or any friends that would be willing to let me use their larger kitchen spaces. Finally, I found a Community Kitchen to rent a space when I needed to finish the sauces.
My favorite experience so far on this journey is having repeat customers. It’s really a true testament that what you’re doing isn’t just your friends and family being nice to your face and that you’ve made something that people truly enjoy, want more of, and can’t wait to try new sauces you’re working on.
The city of Dallas and the Dallas-Ft. Worth Metroplex area is amazing. My wife is originally from here and is in her own right an established artist within the community. With her friends group and social circles, I’ve actually made a ton of connections that have helped me on my journey. From our friend Travis who is the canning connoisseur, to other artist friends that have connections with local farmers markets, bars/restaurants, and retail stores, it’s made a great journey to expand Fxcking Hot Sauces. Along with the many vendors I’ve befriended at farmers markets, I’ve become pretty good acquaintances with a good handful of them. From Stephen Ross, Ross’s Rowdy Bees, an amazing local honey purveyor that I have now since incorporated his ghost pepper honey into my new Chipotle Peach sauce (name TBD), to an artisan candle maker, Be The Light Trade, who makes an alright way to enticing Fruit Loops candle, it’s been great getting to meet more of the creative community. That being said, I’ve only seen one or two other Hot Sauce Companies which might seem baffling but with BBQ being so big in Texas, everyone is on that bandwagon.
What makes you unique?
I make hot sauce because I love making people smile through food. Always have. I still invite my friends and family over for dinner on a weekly basis to try a new recipe, enjoy some BBQ or street tacos, using my hot sauces of course, and experiment new recipes and bounce ideas off of them. I think we’re in a unique position with our sauces because we’re in a sea of BBQ. Everyone is trying to come up with the next big BBQ sauce while we’re over here trying to melt people’s faces off with a ton of flavor and heat. Another unique feature about our sauces as I mentioned earlier is the fact that we slow smoke all of our peppers, accompanying ingredients, and spices. This gives a robust flavor that can be used with a ton of other ingredients from Texas BBQ to Korean BBQ. I think as we continue to grow and scale our name alone helps open doors to new opportunities. Whether that be getting into a new hipster restaurant that wants to provide a true farm to table local hot sauce, or a specialty retail shop carrying local fare, we’ll continue to be the go to, versatile hot sauce for North Texas (and soon beyond!).
Advice for Future Hot Sauce Makers
The one piece of advice I’d give to someone interested in starting a sauce company is...GO FOR IT! There are a ton of resources out there in the hot sauce community and other sauce companies love to support other sauce companies. Ask questions, be inquisitive, and start experimenting to get down a few solid recipes that YOU enjoy. Don’t settle for trying to please everyone because it won’t happen. From there, use your friends and family as guinea pigs, check out local farmers markets to get an idea of what other hot sauce, or sauce companies, if any, are doing, and find your unique identifier and brand positioning. Have fun with it. It’s a great industry and if you have fun, it’ll show in the sauces.
Website - www.fxckinghotsauces.com
Social - @fxckinghotsauces