Welcome back! To another blog where we get to chat to and feature one of our amazing customers!
This week we chat to JJ over at The Somerset Chilli Co! He runs a Somerset based Chilli Sauce company (I bet you could have worked that one out!) which focuses on big flavours using as much exotic fruit as possible!
In this edition of our customer spotlight we learn more about JJ's business and he even gives our customers a special promo code to buy his sauce to try it for yourselves! Read on to learn more.
Hi JJ, how are you this weekend?
Hello I am doing really well thanks – well, as well as we can be, just getting on with it and keeping busy like everyone else! How about yourself?
I'm great thank you. And thank you for joining me for this edition of our customer spotlight blog, we really appreciate it! I guess the first question that we have to ask. Is why did you start a hot sauce company?
The pleasure’s all mine. The reason I started The Somerset Chilli Co. came from years of gradual frustration with the lack of high-quality hot sauces in the market. When compared with craft beer - we are definitely behind! That’s where I see hot sauce going – in some places it already has.
What actually happened (in real time) is I really fancied a top tier pineapple hot sauce on chicken wings and (obviously) couldn’t find anything in Tesco – apart from one for £2 in the World Section. It was about 6:30pm so ordering online was out the question. I decided to go all out and buy loads of exotic fruit and chillis - the rest is history.
At The Somerset Chilli Co. – You can expect premium, exotic hot sauces using real fruit (plenty of it) and locally grown chillies to push the normal flavour boundaries.
How long has your business been going and what has been your biggest challenge so far?
I started the business in October 2020 after having more time on my hands when my working hours halved due to COVID and my sauces that I had created tasted so amazing that I decided to turn it into a business. My biggest challenge so far has been trying to create 3 new sauces that live up to standard of the original three. I am 95% happy with where I am at with them. They will be ready later in the year!
What are you most proud of in relation to your business and sauces?
I am proud that all of our sauces are vegan, allergen-free, and use the most exotic fruit in a hot sauce that we have come across. We use a lot of coconuts.
How important is locally sourced produce to your business?
The grower of the chillies, Will, is a good friend to me and I have known him for over 10 years. He grows his chillies on a big scale under his Country Boys Collective company who do a range of products based in Somerset. Our veg is sourced from SuperStokes in Bath and our fruit from The Exotic Fruit Co. in Bath Farmer’s Market.
Does what ingredients you can source influence what kinds of sauces you can make?
Absolutely, you have to work with the ingredients you have available to you which is why finding a reliable supplier is key. The Exotic Fruit Co. has been a lifesaver and we may continue to push the boundaries further. Watch this space!
How important is social media to your business?
Social media is a great tool for us to communicate our products and engage with the chilli community. It’s great for both finding new customers and collabing and trading tips with other hot sauce makers. COVID has made life more challenging and social media is a way of staying current and keeping your brand in people’s minds.
You use a lot of videos in your instagram posts. How do you make them? Do you find videos help promote your products more than photos?
I make all my videos with my iPhone using a combination of apps and some laptop work. It can be time consuming business. As a beginner starting out, Instagram and TikTok provide great tools to edit videos.
Hot tip: Use screen record.
I find there is definitely more engagement with product-linked videos, as you are able to be more creative with visuals and keep people reading with text. There’s only a certain amount of photo’s you can take in your house before people get bored. I can’t wait to make videos in restaurants and other more visual settings. The time will come!
Has COVID and the national lockdowns affected your business? Have there been any benefits to it?
It has affected the business in the sense (see what I did there) that we are not currently at markets - which is what I am so eager to do. I know some markets are still open, but we are choosing as a company to wait until the lockdown is over to begin appearing at markets.
Until then, you can buy from us at somersetchillico.com (Use the exclusive code: SEN5ES for free shipping on your next 3 hot sauce gift set. Expires 31/03/21)
If you could go back to when you started The Somerset Chilli Co, what piece of advise would you give yourself?
I actually got this advice and err forgot to listen. Let’s say it again. Order printed material in small batches first (labels, leaflets etc.) before larger orders to avoid wasted paper and money. Mistakes happen!
What else? On Day 1: Register with the council as a food business, buy public liability insurance, complete a food hygiene level 2 course. This will allow you to progress as quickly as possible.
What has the future got in store for you and your sauces? What can we expect in 2021?
I feel like I’ve already given away too much! What have I said so far? Expect to see us at various markets after lockdown. What else? There are three new sauces under final review. See us at Hot Sauce Society this summer and just ask for a taste of the good stuff. We got you! (Yes, Covid allowing!)
Lastly how would you rate Sen5es as a supplier? What do you think of our products and service?
I think Sen5es is a fantastic supplier. Stuart has always gone above and beyond to directly meet my needs and he has great customer service. Paul is a really friendly guy and has been great to deal with and has been great to speak to in this interview. I find the prices for the bottles are competitive and the delivery from APC Tracking is often next day – rapid.
Thank you so much JJ for joining us this week!
How good was that? I don't know about you but I learned a lot from our chat. How nice of The Somerset Chilli Co to give our readers a discount code! How many of you will be using it? I know I will.
Would you like to be featured in our customer spotlight? Head over to our contact page and send us an email! Or do what JJ did and send us a message on social media. We love to hear from you and to learn more about your businesses.
Don't forget to head over to our social media and give us a follow and a like! You can find us on Instagram and Facebook. Be sure to tag us in all your awesome product shots. We love seeing our products in the wild!
All the best
The team at Sen5es