Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Michelle Davidson, co-owner of Cooper's Small Batch Hot Sauce, located in Aurora, CO, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Founders Chef John and Michelle, husband, and wife team of Cooper's Small Batch, are spicing things up with their award-winning hot sauces. Michelle, a Colorado native and proud business owner is humbled to have their hot sauces sold at many local gourmet markets, Wholefoods, Natural Grocers, Lucky's, and specialty retail stores throughout Colorado and beyond.
Here's what some of their fans say:
"Best variety of hot sauce for any occasion. It's like the pepper gods came down and smacked this crew with the skills to make amazingness." Said Todd C., a reviewer.
"Flavor!! I buy a lot of hot sauce, but after tasting you're at a Farmer's Market and going through the bottles I bought there, I need more. Grundle Thumper will be my go-to from here on out, and I'm excited to try the new flavors. The heat is there, but, unlike others, Cooper's has found the perfect balance, immense flavor with the heat that searches and finds you but won't kill you once it does. Perfection. - Said Andrew R., a reviewer
Tell us about yourself
Cooper's Small Batch began with a simple idea at a time when my husband (John) and I owned a restaurant in the historical South Pearl Street neighborhood called; The Crushery. The Crushery was a fast-casual dining experience serving homemade bagels, panini's & salads. John felt there was a missing ingredient that needed to be added to his breakfast & lunch items, and that was hot sauce. Instead of buying the commercial brands, and as a chef, he chose to make the hot sauce in-house that would pair well and complement our menu items. I named Cooper's Small Batch after our son, Cooper, and as a hobby, I sold the hot sauce during summer farmer's markets to save for his and our daughters' college fund.
The hot sauce fizzled away when the restaurant sold in 2012. It wasn't until 2017 when I sat down with John and presented a business proposal, one where we'd rebrand Cooper's Small Batch and sell to retail stores. He thought it was a crazy business proposition and not sure we'd succeed; despite that, he was all in with my crazy idea. For the next year, we spent time on market research, planning, and development. The business officially launched in May 2018.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I think one of our biggest accomplishments is sustainability and brand loyalty. Our staff, including myself, are laser-focused on the quality of product we introduce into the market, customer care and service we provide, and product experience. All this plus more are core to our accomplishments as business owners.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Each business owner, I believe, has their strengths and weaknesses when running a business. I focus my energy and time on my strengths. Naturally, it's easier, and I'm more confident in the decisions I make, especially during the start-up period. The hardest thing is not recognizing your weakness but nurturing it. It takes time to develop that knowledge, more energy, and it can be frustrating. The best example I can give is when we upgraded our accounting system from Square to QuickBooks. Learning basic accounting was the hardest thing for me to learn as a business owner. It was easy to set up QuickBooks, create and send invoices, and collect money. Learning how to reconcile, keep up with the monthly bookkeeping and year-end reporting was a foreign concept to me. A lot of time went into fixing our accounting, and after learning how to fix my mistakes, I hired an accountant.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
Some tips I can share for anyone looking to start a business and or grow a business today is start with a SWOT analysis (strength, weakness, opportunity, threat). Once you know this, you can build from that. Start networking; there are a lot of forums on social media specific to one’s industry, and utilizing these platforms to ask questions to those that have walked in your shoes already can be valuable. Have fun; it takes time to build a business. We are still building, changing, and experimenting. Your business will evolve as you evolve.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Cooper's Small Batch is hiring; if you are enthusiastic about spicy food and looking for a career in consumer-packaged goods, get in touch with us, we'd love to hear from you. If you are thinking of starting your own consumer packaged goods business, I am available for consultation. #coloradonative #womanownedbusiness
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 firstname.lastname@example.org; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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