Written by Sh' That's Hot Owner Shelli
I (Shelli) have always been adventurous with food, but spice wasn't a big thing in my house growing up. As I got older, I worked in a Mexican restaurant which started my love for a little heat. At that time, it was primarily jalapeños and hot salsa. My true love for spicy food, appreciation of different flavors and heat levels from peppers came from living in Asia for two years. I lived in Hong Kong which is a melting pot of cuisine with a lot of spicy broths and Chinese influenced dishes. I also traveled frequently to China, Korea, Thailand, and a handful of other Asian countries where my appreciation and desire to play with spices and heat truly blossomed.
Shane's earliest memory was when his dad would always put out oysters and herring with hot sauce at New Years and the kids were rewarded for whatever they ate. In high school, it expanded with Taco Bell hot sauce packets which never packed enough heat and drinking bottles of Tabasco on dares. At 21, he always wanted the spiciest Bloody Marys so his sister tried to make the hottest Bloody Mary that he would never be able to drink … of course, he did and it just kept growing from there.
We have both always been interested in trying different hot sauces and salsas but we sort of stumbled into the business. Shane was getting his Bachelor's degree and at the same time, I subscribed to a CSA (crop share agreement where we got boxes of produce delivered weekly). First, he had to pick a fictional company and write a business plan. I suggested hot sauce or beer, both things he loves, and he chose hot sauce. After that, he had to do a marketing and communications plan and breakeven analysis in two other classes. At the same time, we were getting 2lbs of carrots in the CSA weekly as well as peppers, tomatoes, etc. so we started making salsas and hot sauces and taking them into work because there was no way we could use the amount of produce we were getting. When everyone started asking us if they could take it home with them and to bring in more, we knew we were onto something.
After all his research and work, and the fact that everyone loved our sauces, he said "I think we should really do this" and he took it from there. We are still a new company with less than one year selling our sauces and the thing that surprises us most is the genuine camaraderie in the industry. Everyone has been helpful from starting our business to finding a co-packer to making true friendships, it's not a competition, it's a win-win for everyone.
When we started the business, we had three goals, which remain today: 1) making high quality and all natural hot sauces; 2) develop unique flavor profiles and 3) give a portion back to charity. We started with three sauces, all of which helped us meet these goals.
We launched Habanero Hop infusion, a dry-hopped hot sauce blending our love for beer and hot sauce; a fresh ginger flavored hot sauce called Angry Ginger and a unique take on what was the hottest pepper in the world at the time, with a sweet creeping heat called Carolina Reaper Throat Punch (and it does just as promised).
All these sauces are all natural with low sodium and have the best ingredients. This makes them a little more expensive to make but we are passionate about using no additional preservatives, colorings or thickeners. We are also a veteran owned company, with Shane spending thirteen years in the Navy, so we very proudly give back a portion of every bottle sold to Hope for the Warriors, an incredible charity helping veterans across the country.