Cooper’s Small Batch (CSB) was founded by Chef John and Michelle Davidson, husband and wife team. Their journey began in 2007, opening a successful restaurant in Denver, CO. The hotspot delighted foodies with homemade New York style bagels, paninis, salads, and the ever-theatrical liquid nitrogen ice cream. The restaurant was beloved by locals and tourists alike.
As the restaurant thrived, Cooper’s Small Batch was developed out of necessity; Chef John struggled to find food-friendly sauces to complement the menu. He found that typical hot sauces had overwhelming notes of vinegar, high percentage of salt content or too spicy that just a couple drops burnt the palate. That’s when John took to the kitchen and Cooper’s Small Batch-named after their son was born.
In the beginning, CSB was exclusively sold and enjoyed by customers at their restaurant and at farmers markets more as a hobby to save for their children’s college fund. In 2017, Michelle took a hard look at her career path in the corporate world of sales/marketing, and decided it was time to take a leap of faith and convince John to start their own business together and bring the hot sauce that customers loved at the restaurant to the market as a gourmet giftable condiment company.
In 2018, Cooper’s Small Batch was rebranded, keeping in mind that with so many hot sauces companies on the market, thought must be emphasized on three (3) factors to launch their hot sauce.
John and Michelle’s voyage does not come without daily challenges; labeling mistakes, expensive equipment, scaling facility space, partnering with retailers, discovering new distribution channels, learning how to be successful on the E-commerce platform and using social media to drive online business. Each challenge tests their patience, grit and entrepreneurial spirit.
Our advice to hobbyists who’d like to scale up; do it organically, slow and steady wins the race. Don’t give away the house to make deals happen. Expect to be paid what your product is worth. In the beginning hiccups will happen. Get your product in front of the people, such as farmers markets, festivals, consumer feedback is real value. Try to nail down a recipe but be willing to change it if the need arises. Believe in your brand and commit 100% to build your empire your way!
This year (2020) Cooper’s Small Batch has won several awards for their hot sauce. John and Michelle are very proud and humbled to receive recognition among the spicy community. They show no signs of slowing down; focusing on servicing current customers with exceptional customer support, innovating flavor-driven products, and strategically partnering with like-minded customers across the US.
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Cottage Lane Kitchen was founded by me in 2010, and it isn't only my business name, but also refers to a secret lane in Chapel Hill, NC where our family homestead was built in the 1950s. Four generations of my family have cooked and preserved spicy peppers out of love and tradition in that kitchen.
The last homemade batch of my family's spicy pepper relish was made by my Grandfather in the early 1990s. He grew chilies around the outside of the house and harvested and pickled them during my summer visits. I remember him watering the empty tin cans he buried beside each pepper plant.
Normally the Craft Hot Sauce Podcast interviews hot sauce makers all over the world. This episode is more of a riff from Brian the host about some of the things his hot sauce company Craic Sauce got up this summer.