Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with William Brookins, Founder of Black Buffalo BBQ & Marinade, located in Edmonton, AB, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Black Buffalo BBQ & Marinade sauce. We make several products, the best cornbread like no other & the best spinach & artichoke dip. All are made with a Universal marinade or food enhancer to be put into any dish to help with prep time & when it comes to flavor, it will get your attention very fast regardless of what you put it in & even children love it. It's to help people who can or have no clue of putting a home cook meal together, and it's all-natural, very low sodium, keto, vegan & gluten-free, and made with no trans fats. Our BBQ Sauce & Marinade can go on the finest steak dinner or the finest seafood, or it can go into a working family dinner table who wants to make something quick & easy & doesn't have time to add flavor due to meal prep because our products will assist you with this issue.
Tell us about yourself
Grew up in Texas and moved to Canada when I was 23yrs in the late 80s. Toronto had a huge mix of cultures & I was exposed to many foods, but you couldn't buy southern cooking. If you could, it was rare & wasn't that great. You can't still buy cornbread in Canada because people have no clue what to do with it, but pretty much made the same way, which is very boring. We love to smoke meats when we BBQ in Texas, so I came up with a universal Marinade with a unique blend of spices, herbs & peppers, etc. I knew I had something special 5yrs ago in Texas & when I came back to Canada via Edmonton, I ran into Deana Johnson, who was an awesome cook. I gave her the product & she was amazed at how it went with everything & it gave every dish a different flavor & taste. She helped me to come up with a cornbread so moist that you can't compare it to the same boring stuff you have been eating. So what motivates us, you can't put us in a box or compare us to any product on the market. I want people to just try any sample we sell & because we cover all the bases when it comes to flavor or taste. Our product is made in Edmonton, so it adds flavor to any cultural food or dish, even game meat, with a little kick in the end. We love seeing the expression on people's faces when they try our products.
We opened up at the Bountiful Market on March 3rd & have been selling out ever since. We have been the talk of the market ever since we opened & had to ramp up production to keep up with demand. We love our work & enjoy sharing it with people, I have the connections to get into the big markets, but we love this ground-level approach with interaction with potential customers & we always want to be a part of that no matter how big we get because both come from humble beginnings & you see that in our products & when you meet us.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
To see a vision of a product that some said would never take off. But you must truly believe in yourself & surround yourself with others who see your vision & passion. To see our hard work not only go into production when it was bottled & ready for the public, I almost cried because I knew the journey & what it took to get here. I want to thank those in Edmonton who gave me guidance & see this project through because, without them, I wouldn't be writing this. This dream started in Texas, but it was perfected in Edmonton, where we are very proud to say, you have seen nothing yet!
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
I really can't say, if one thing, it's our name. Do people think we sell Buffalo meat, or are we indigenous? We both have Native in our bloodlines, but the name is in honor of my great-great-grandfather, who was a Buffalo Solider, and I'm also a military vet myself, so I honor Him because, without Him, I wouldn't be here to write this. People want to label or put a spin on our products, but you can't because we don't fit the mold & when you meet us, you will see why! So what do I say about us & Black Buffalo? We never quit or gave up, even when we broke down. We pursued our dreams & passion for cooking!
So what type of food do we make? We make food that you love or can hate. We make food that you're going to shove in your face. We make food that you can run & debate. We make food that doesn't focus on culture or race. We make food that helps provide an escape. So this is for anyone who has ever been hated on, just be yourself & do you & give them something to hate on, because they are going to do it regardless!
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Have a passion & believe in your vision. Anyway, you can give out samples & get honest feedback, don't take it personally. It's the only way you get better.
- Take your time. Who are the customers you're trying to reach with your product?
- Please do some research. What will make your product different than what is on the current market? Show your customers the benefit of buying or using your product compared to your competition & don't be scared to ask for all the money. If your product is good, customers will pay for it & if you show & have passion for your product when pitching it, everyone will see it. You may hear some No thank you at first, but if you believe in yourself & your product, you will start to hear a lot of yes.
I want to wish everyone good luck on their journey & if you are serious about making it happen, then it will happen! Remember it's your business, act like it & the way you conduct yourself is also important. If you're always late or sloppy in the presentation, lead by example because you can't expect people to take you seriously when you don't hold yourself accountable to the same standard.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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