“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself,'I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.' You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”
― ELEANOR ROOSEVELT,
My Father was a commercial real estate Broker. I remember accompanying my Father on many showings of commercial properties and loved watching how driven he was to find success not just for himself, but for his family. Growing up in an entrepreneurial environment like that made following a path of business ownership feel natural to me. After a successful career in the real estate industry and in theater, I took some time off to have my 3 boys, Ayden, Luke, and George. When my youngest, George, was only 8 years old, the boys and I jumped headfirst into the food industry. I’ve always had a love of food, a respect of how food can benefit our health and enjoyed developing my own recipes. On the other side of our house, my middle son Luke had spent years fundraising and bringing awareness to rhino conservation. We decided to merge my love of food with his love of animal conservation and started selling our homemade creamy cilantro sauce, Diablo Verde, to raise funds for rhino conservation. Just like that, 3SonsFoods was born!
Since you are reading this blog, you may already have a good idea of how we got here, but one thing you may not know is how we overcame some of the different obstacles in our path. Namely, well-intentioned naysayers and not allowing fear of failure to dictate our path.
You have to get regulated and work in a commercial kitchen, you don’t want to do all that”
In 2015, a year before we started selling salsa Diablo Verde as a fundraiser, I had mentioned to a friend that I was thinking about selling my homemade sauce. She was less than encouraging, painting a picture of all the hard work and obstacles we would face in launching a food business. There was talk of how hard it would be to find a commercial kitchen, and if I was lucky enough to locate one, it would be really expensive. Even if I found a kitchen, I then would have to lug all my supplies to the kitchen to make Diablo Verde and then clean the kitchen and lug everything back after every use. She was 100% right. It wasn’t easy to locate an affordable kitchen, and it wasn’t fun to lug all the supplies weekly to that kitchen— but we did it!
Every week we would bring in coolers of cilantro, jalapenos, garlic, and countless pounds of limes—not to mention 6 huge pots, the largest Vitamix we could buy with our tiny budget—gloves, aprons, spoons, measuring cups, and the list continues. We filled my Mom-obile (aka suburban) to the roof weekly and headed to a small commercial kitchen named Cottage Charm. Luckily for us, the kitchen was 15 min away from our home and only $15 an hour. It was the perfect place for us to make the very best creamy cilantro sauce around!
Though my friend’s warnings held some truth and making food in a commercial kitchen was indeed very labor intensive, as any Mother knows, helping your child accomplish one of their goals is all that is needed to fuel one’s purpose.
With my son’s passion as my motivation—and with all of us working together as a family—I discovered that hard doesn’t mean impossible.
“Nobody will buy a high-end sauce”
Fast forward to 2017 when we just officially launched our business. I had a very close family member tell me repeatedly that nobody would buy a $9 jar of salsa. For me as a consumer and a self-proclaimed “Food Lover,” I understood that people wanted healthy, all-natural, and flavorful food options. And I knew Diablo Verde would be able to provide that to our customers. I had seen products in all price ranges sell because there was a specific need each successful product met. I also knew that eventually, with growth and more buying power, we could decrease our cost and retail price, giving Diablo Verde more mass appeal in the longer term.
When coming out with a product, just because it hasn’t been done before does not mean it’s not going to be successful. If you have a need for your product, then most likely there are other people that will also have a need for what you are selling.
“Don’t expect to support your family with only 3 stock keeping units (SKUs)”
Many people had warned us early on that we would never make a profitable business selling only 3 SKUs, (each SKU represents one of our products; Diablo Verde Mild, Diablo Verde Medium, and Diablo Verde Hot). In the food industry, most companies launch with a large line of products. Instead, 3SonsFoods came out with 1 sauce, Diablo Verde, in 3 different heat intensities. This was not the traditional formula to launch a food company and grow a business that could provide for one’s family.
When I look back on what we created and all the things that needed to go right to bring 3SonsFoods to its current status, I know that we’ve made it thus far only with divine intervention and a healthy dose of stubbornness.
While I had always visualized us as the successful company we are today, I’m still a bit shocked we’re standing where we are. So, to all those people that told us we wouldn’t be successful, I total understand why you thought that!
Though people may have meant well with their warnings and advice, we are thankful we did not allow fear to dictate our course. I have learned that naysayers are sometimes just well-intentioned friends that are trying to save you from falling on your face. However, we knew that not everyone could see the vision of Diablo Verde being on shelves across the nation and beyond.
Though these comments certainly led me to pause and consider the hurdles we as a business and family were about to clear, I’m so glad we stuck with our gut and got into the race!