Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Lance Avery, founder and CEO of Big Fork Brands, located in Chicago, IL, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Big Fork Brands is a Chicago-based, family-owned company centered on innovation through flexitarian sausage, bacon sausage, craft pork jerky, pork snack sticks, and The Original Chicago Sauce. We work with small family farmers in Iowa who raise heritage hogs outdoors without the use of antibiotics. These hogs live the good life with continuous access to the outdoors. These hogs are considered The 3% since 97% of the hogs raised in Iowa come from confined feedlots. Why not feedlots??? For these three distinct reasons:

  1. Community - confined feedlots stink!
  2. Environment - confined feedlots often contaminate the local watershed
  3. Humanitarian – our hogs have 24hrs outside access, humanly
    We like to say happy hogs make great-tasting sausage, jerky, and meat sticks. Clean label, great-tasting products, with a unique twist, that's Big Fork.

Tell us about yourself

Born and raised in Iowa, I learned the importance the pork industry has on my native state at an early age. After several business attempts, I have focused my efforts by combining my upbringing as an Iowan and my culinary expertise in Chicago to launch Big Fork. With my background as a chef and the passion of an entrepreneur, I set out to become the new sausage king of Chicago. Seeing the decline of quality sausage back in 2010, I came up with the idea of combining two great meats, bacon & sausage, together to create a singular super meat called Bacon Sausage. Since then, I continued to expand Big Fork’s product line by launching a new flexitarian pork sausage and a Chicago-centric sauce, The Original Chicago Sauce. Big Fork has been featured on QVC, Inc., Esquire, Food & Wine, The Chicago Tribune, WGN, WGN Radio, CBS, and Fox.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

I self-funded the business and bootstrapped it to over a million dollars in sales.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

Wearing so many hats. You never really get to focus and become a master at any one thing.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. This is going to be hard, very hard. You might need to lie to yourself, saying that everything is going to be okay even when you know it's probably not.
  2. Surround yourself with good people, people that think differently than you and that have different skills than you do.
  3. Most often, you create your own luck, so work hard.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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