When Kaitlin Chamblin moved from her native Lexington, Ky. to Los Angeles seven years ago, she immersed herself in a whole new kind of cuisine. ROOTZ Sauce, the company she founded in 2014 with her husband Al Hodgson, combines her lifelong Southern passion for condiments and the clean eating habits of her new city.
ROOTZ has a selection of their delicious sauces on Undiscovered Kitchen:
ROOTZ Pineapple BBQ Sauce 2-Pack ($25): Our Pineapple BBQ Sauce is the perfect clean & healthy BBQ Sauce! Use it as a traditional BBQ Sauce, a condiment/ketchup alternative, awesome in the slow cooker – the sidekick to every dish!
ROOTZ Sweet + Spicy Table Sauce 2-Pack ($29): Our Sweet + Spicy Table Sauce is the perfect balance of sweet and spicy – use it as a condiment, hot sauce, or marinade – the sidekick to every dish!
Who are the business founders and when did you launch the business?
I, Kaitlin Chamblin, am the founder of ROOTZ Sauce along with my husband, Al Hodgson. We launched our business in April 2014.
What inspired you to start your business?
I work as a private chef in Los Angeles, and enjoy entertaining and cooking for family and friends often. I moved from Lexington, Ky. to Los Angeles 7 years ago and was exposed to many new flavors and spices, and also the clean food movement. I grew up in the sauce-hungry culture of the South, and moving to LA inspired me to satisfy my new palate, but avoid using of all the artificial ingredients often found in conventional sauces.
Where do you currently make your product and how did you find the process of finding a kitchen to be like?
We currently make our product in Ontario, Calif. with a family run business. I meticulously source and purchase all ingredients, and then we make the sauces at the facility in Ontario.
Did you have a background in the food/drink industry when you started? (If not, what was your background?)
I worked for one and a half years with James Beard Award nominee Chef Jonathan Lundy in Lexington, KY, learning all the ropes of the kitchen. When I moved to LA I started working as a private chef. Cooking is a creative outlet for me, the kitchen is my canvas and things just start to flow.
What are some examples of rookie mistakes you made when starting out?
Really trying to get our pricing at a minimum from the get go. We were a bit naïve and thought people are willing to pay anything for a high quality product, but we soon learned that if we wanted to really expand our business people want both quality ingredients and a price that is super appealing. We then had to go to the drawing board and see where we could cut our costs and still use the ingredients that we thoughtfully source.
Your biggest business challenge to date?
Making a statement to customers as not just another sauce. Also exposure, getting noticed on a national level so that we can become a familiar brand.
How do you stay motivated in the face of competition?
Be confident in the quality of the product you’re producing, keep following your goals and dreams, and don’t worry about the competition.
What’s your main business goal for 2017?
Gain brand exposure, start selling in markets nationally, open up more wholesale accounts in key markets where customers have requested our sauce like Portland, Ore., San Francisco, New York City, and Chicago.
What makes your company unique?
We make tasty, versatile, sauces with real food ingredients. You don’t have to sacrifice flavor for food to be clean and healthy.
What’s your team or company motto/mantra? (Informal or formal)
Real food deserves real sauce!
Advice for someone with a great artisan food or drink idea?
If you believe in your product you can make it happen. If you have a passion for developing a new food or drink go for it, it’s a ton of work and completely exhausting but completely rewarding at the same time.