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Portsmouth Chilli and Gin Festival with HaskHells Hot Sauce

Last weekend we were lucky enough to visit James from HaskHells at the fantastic Portsmouth Chilli and Gin Festival.

At the festival there was a huge range of different hot sauce companies and it was fantastic to see loads of our amazing customers. All using our beautiful 150ml glass hot sauce bottles. It was great to see so many small businesses showing off their products and doing so well.

Haskhells was there to sell his amazing range of hot sauces, to promote his brand and to answer questions on how he started his hot sauce business.

If you remember last year we featured James and HaskHells in our customer spotlight blog series. If you haven't checked that out yet you can read all about it here. Now a year on and with more sauces in his repertoire it's great to finally meet him and to see how his business has progressed over the past year.

Portsmouth Chilli and Gin Festival

Hi James! How are you?

I am awesome, Thanks for asking, I hope you guys are doing well too

It's been a year since our customer spotlight blog on HaskHells. How has the last year been for you?

It has been a busy year and I mean that in a great way. So much so that since we last spoke I have actually given up my job to focus on looking after the "tiny sous chefs" and to continue to build the business. The business has been growing steadily, I have a website now and I am out doing monthly markets here in Bristol. So I am able to showcase my talents a little bit more. I am also fortunate enough now to be in a position to be able to donate £1 from every sale over £5 online to Mind charity. It is a charity very close to my heart so it is my way of giving something back.

Fort Purbrook in Portsmouth
The festival was held at Fort Purbrook in Portsmouth

How did you first hear about the festival?

I was contacted by the organisers and being a Portsmouth boy born and bred I leapt at the opportunity to make it my first ever festival. Since then I have worked with them and their media partner Express FM and was invited to join them live on air where DJ Darren Gamblin tried some of the sauces.

During the festival you were invited to talk about starting a hot sauce business. How did you end up being invited to do this?

It was suggested by the organisers as a way for the festival goers to get a chance to meet the maker. Being on stage in front of a crowd was something that I have never done before but it gave me a chance to push and challenge myself and I think everyone enjoyed learning about my journey.

haskhells talking about starting a chilli sauce business
James on stage talking about starting a chilli sauce business

How did the festival go for you?

I absolutely loved every second of it, from getting on site and setting up the stall to packing down and everything in between, I enjoyed it all. Hearing all the lovely comments from the customers who tried the samples and bought my products really validated my decision to leave my job and to focus on my sauces and seasonings as well as spending time with the family.

What was your favourite part of the event?

I have to say being able to talk face to face with the customers about something that I am very passionate about. Having started during the pandemic I wasn't able to sell directly to customers so being able to be at a festival showing off something that I have created is something that I am very proud of

Haskhells range of hot sauces
Haskhells range of hot sauces

What have you learned from doing the festival?

I've learnt that I really enjoy outdoor markets and festivals, the vibes all weekend were amazing and the weather was so good. I've taken away how to travel with a streamlined kit and stock as well as how to make it easy and not over complicate things. That said I highly recommend taking a chair for those brief moments of respite.

How was it meeting other hot sauce companies? I know there is quite a strong community and you all help each other in one way or another.

The hot sauce community is awesome and so helpful and friendly. I have met a few of the other producers before so it was great to catch up with them. There were a lot of people I met for the first time though and it is great to hear their story and sample their amazing products.

hot sauce customers
Another happy customer for Haskhells

Why are these sorts of events important to you?

There are a few reasons, one is that it gives the customer a chance to try the product. They can't do it online so it's great to do free tastings and get some instant feedback. And secondly it's also great for raising brand awareness and getting people familiar with you and your products. I think people really appreciate it when the producers take the time to chat and explain who they are and where they have come from.

What's next for HaskHells? I will be doing a monthly slot at Bristol's Tobacco Factory Market. People can find out the dates I am there at Hopefully I will have a couple of collaborations in the future too. I already use Sea Crack sea salts in my products but look out for a few more. I will be continuing to grow my social media and the brand and fingers crossed I will be working with a few people to help promote Haskhells

The haskhells hot sauce team
These guys mean business

Do you have any new sauces in the making?

I have a brand new Dill Pickle sauce that I have just launched. It's on the website already and I'll be in the kitchen soon making a bigger batch ready for markets this year.

I also have my new Cajun rub which is slightly hotter than my BBQ rub which I trialled at Portsmouth Chilli & Gin and it sold out.

And I do have something that I am working on behind the scenes involving Ghost chillies, coffee & cocoa so keep your eyes peeled for that.

Lastly before I get back to daddy daycare I want to say thank you to you guys for all the help and support you have given me since I began my journey.

As a small business starting out it means a lot to me to be able to put a face and name to the people behind the company and the service you provide is second to none.

Thank you so much for taking time away from daddy daycare and answering our questions. And thank you for the kind words. We love seeing our customers grow and to meet them in person is always a pleasure.

haskhells hot sauces
James showing off his sauces

We had such a great time at the festival. It was great meeting some more of our customers and getting to know some other hot sauce producers. We hope to be seeing them again soon!

If you are attending a market or festival this year and think we should pop along let us know! We love meeting our customers and we can even turn it in to a blog like we have done here.

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 and use the #sen5esbottles. We love seeing our products in the wild!

All the best

The team at Sen5es

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