Three years ago today, after many years of people telling me "You really should sell this stuff!", I decided to throw caution to the wind and launched Lucky Dog Hot Sauce.
It's been quite a journey - I had no idea what kind of crazy industry I was getting into, but I figured with a good product, hard work and a little luck, I might just be able to have some modest success.
Here we are, a short 36 months later, and Lucky Dog Hot Sauce is sold in 17 states and 4 countries. I have shipped sauce to almost every state of the USA, and have heard from fans of my products from as far away as Africa, Japan and the Czech Republic. Lucky Dog Hot Sauce has received 280+ 5-star reviews on my company website, 80+ 5-star reviews on this Facebook page, and dozens of positive feedback responses on Square. It's truly staggering the support I've seen for my little brand of artisan hot sauce.
I have been blessed to have worked (and continue to work) with several brilliant artists. Among them, Kara Thauer who designed the original Lucky Dog Hot Sauce logos; Erik Bucher, who's immense graphic arts skills have been the unsung hero of my product line, and of course, the incredibly talented Robin Case, who's Dia del Perro label has won numerous industry awards and elevated my brand to an entirely new level of artistry.
There are so many others who have helped to lend their talent, enthusiasm, wisdom and advice along the way, and I have been truly inspired by every one of those fantastic people. Many of them "competing" sauce companies, who have been incredibly welcoming and generous with their guidance. That includes many here at THP, who's feedback on my label drafts, guidance for market booth set-up and more was invaluable in my 1st year and beyond.
It is certainly not without difficulty - as I enter my 4th year in business, it is more and more apparent that growth comes with significant challenges. Some of these greater than others. Of course, it's up to me to embrace those challenges and turn them into opportunities. Perseverance is a cornerstone for me, and of course it also helps to be a little bit insane.
With no disrespect intended to any of my former employers, I have worked more, and more intensely than I ever have at any point in my life. And I am rewarded for that with every kind word from a customer, every award my products have received, and with every positive review from bloggers, gloggers, vlogers and any other "ogger" I may have left out.
While my business plan remains fluid and evolving, the one consistent goal is to continue to improve as a sauce maker, producing products that people love as much as I love creating them.
I am about to start my 1st county fair this week, which runs 6 days a week, 13 hours/day, I will not be at my farmers markets for ~1 month, and I'll miss those interactions very much.
That said, Lucky Dog Hot Sauce will continue to be staffed weekly at the following locations without interruption:
Hayward & College of San Mateo, Saturdays
Marin Civic Center & Belmont, Sundays
Wednesday evenings in San Leandro
Thursday evenings in Livermore
I will also continue to fulfill online orders without interruption, and will answer all calls, emails and other inquiries in as timely a manner as is possible.
There is always uncertainty in business, as in life. But the one thing that is certain in all of this is that I could not have made it 3 years without all of you. Customers are the heart and soul of Lucky Dog Hot Sauce - it is your feedback that has led to the development of new sauces, expansion to additional farmers markets and retail locations, restaurants and festivals. And most importantly, it is your passion for Lucky Dog Hot Sauce that helps me to stay passionate about it, even on those cold and rainy days when everything is dark & soggy.
Momentum is a fleeting thing, and on the bleakest of days, my customers have been there to pick me up. It might be as simple as stopping by my booth to tell me your cheeseburger was made more delicious because of one of my sauces, or a friendly email to let me know that the Lucky Dog Hot Sauce gift you purchased for a friend or relative was well received. All of it means the world to me, and I thank you all for being so amazing and supportive of both my products and of me.
That all said, I'll be at the Alameda County Fair starting on 06/17/15 and will be there through 07/04/15 from 11:00 AM - 11:00 PM, Tuesday through Sunday. If you get a chance, please stop by my booth and say hello - I'll be in in building B, right between the entrance & the snack bar.
3 years of love & hot sauce