Lots of people love hot sauce, including me, and it’s no wonder why. Hot sauce is delicious and versatile, with an almost endless variety of flavor profiles and heat levels, so it seems like there’s always something new to try. I also love how every sauce producer has their own unique story woven with one common thread that connects them all: a passion for hot sauce. There’s another group of sauce producers who founded their business on two passions: crafting hot sauce and making the world a better place. In this multi-part blog series, I’ll be interviewing the owners of five different sauce companies that were created with the purpose to raise money for specific charities or organizations. Each of these companies donates their profits to particular causes that are close to their hearts. This week, we’re highlighting Hot Sauce 4 Good.
Hot Sauce 4 Good
Three years ago, the Ferretti family created a small business called Hot Sauce 4 Good, selling their own locally-crafted hot sauce to support charities that they believe in. To date, they have helped raise over $65,000 that have benefitted World Vision Micro, Urban Impact, and Elijah’s Promise, striving towards making the world a better place, one bottle of hot sauce at a time. I had the opportunity to talk to Bob Ferretti, founder and chief cook of Hot Sauce 4 Good, to learn more about this awesome organization and its mission.
Although he was originally inspired by TOMS Shoes’ one-for-one philosophy, Bob soon realized that donating a bottle of hot sauce for each one bought wouldn’t quite have the same impact as it does with shoes. Therefore, he had to come up with a slightly different approach.
“We are passionate about hot sauce and making the world a better place for our children and the next generation,” Bob explained. “When we started our company, we knew that supporting the charities we believe in was going to be the most important thing we did with our profits. For us, instead of donating the hot sauce, we donate the money to some incredible charities doing work both locally and globally.”
Because Hot Sauce 4 Good was founded with the purpose of raising money to help others, an important step early on was to determine which charities to support. The Ferretti family knew right off the bat that they wanted to find a micro finance charity that would assist entrepreneurs in developing countries.
“We share an affinity with these entrepreneurs—we are a small business that has to rely on the help of others so we love being able to be there for others,” Bob shared. “A small loan of $300 to buy an ox, seeds and fertilizer or a sewing machine can have an incredible and lasting impact on not just an individual or family but an entire community. We selected World Vision Micro for all our micro finance donations: Their program is unparalleled. Not only do they provide the loans to entrepreneurs in places like Cambodia, Mexico, Ghana, and Kenya, these loans go to people (mostly single mothers) that would not have access to capital. Once the loan is repaid, it is recycled to another entrepreneur in the same community. In addition to World Vision, we also support two local charities: Elijah's Promise Community Soup Kitchen and Urban Impact. Both of these charities are doing great work in our local community and are making demonstrable changes in the lives of the working poor.”
The Hot Sauces
In order to raise funds to support these charities, the Ferrettis would have to make some killer hot sauces. Autumn Spice and Lo-Heat-O caught my attention in particular, so I asked Bob about Hot Sauce 4 Good’s flavor profiles and how he came up with them.
“Some of our flavors are born from sitting at the kitchen table as a family and talking through ideas for new and experimental hot sauces; it makes for fun dinner conversation,” he said. “Some of our hot sauces exist because they are flavors that we love in any of our foods—spicy or not. And some of our hot sauces are the result of working with other local companies that we love, and we develop a hot sauce around a specific ingredient. All of our sauces are very low sodium and use local produce and ingredients as much as possible. While we have a large range of some very unconventional hot sauces that feature flavors like cantaloupe, cinnamon, mint, pineapple…my favorite and the sauce I use every day is our Hot Garlic. It's a great, solid hot sauce. If you’re going to have one of our hot sauces in your collection that you’ll use a lot, then Hot Garlic is the one to get. We blend a variety of chili peppers including cayenne and habanero and a healthy dose of fresh garlic. It's simple but oh, so good.”
Bob also teased that they’ll soon be adding new flavors, and my mouth is already watering: “We’ll be introducing a new sauce we partnered with W.B. Law coffee on - I can't tell you too much yet, except that it’s awesome! We are working on a sauce with one of our local vineyards (Old York Cellars) that will incorporate their Malbec wine.”
Making a Real Difference
Now even though satisfying the cravings of chiliheads with amazing sauces is rewarding, Hot Sauce 4 Good’s true purpose is to help feed the hungry, educate the poor, and invest in hard-working entrepreneurs in developing countries. And they’re doing just that. I mentioned earlier how they’ve raised over $65,000 for charities since they started their business 3 years ago, and Bob has seen first-hand the significance of what Hot Sauce 4 Good has accomplished.
“Often when we give to charity we know that the donation has been received and that the organization is thankful,” he said. “In 2014, we were provided an opportunity to work on a special fundraising event for World Vision Micro. Part of the story we helped tell was that of three entrepreneurs that Hot Sauce 4 Good had the honor of supporting through micro loans. Not only did we help raise money to fund over 225 additional micro loans, we had the chance to meet the entrepreneurs we had funded. It's one thing to be told that a farmer in Ethiopia is purchasing a cow with the funds from the micro loan—it’s another to actually meet the cow (named Blessed because she was pregnant when they got her)!”
“Each time we visit one of the markets that carries our products we are proud of the staff that works there,” Bob continued. “The Better World Market is associated with Elijah's Promise Community Soup Kitchen and many of the workers there are 'graduates' or enrollees of their culinary institute. One young woman in particular, a young mother, beams with pride in her work and is a wonderful example of all Elijah's Promise stands for. We are honored to be able to be even a small part of their success.”
When I asked him about his long-term goals for Hot Sauce 4 Good, Bob said, “I often joke that I want to have revenues of a billion dollars a year so we can donate $999 million of it. We are starting to ramp up our online store and looking to place our products in respected online markets while we continue to sell locally at the farm stands and farmers markets where we have developed a loyal following. We’re beginning to formulate our approach on how we will market to retail stores, but we know we need to find ways to lower our costs while we keep our quality up.”
You can find a list of the nearly 50 entrepreneurs that Hot Sauce 4 Good has helped through World Vision Micro on their website here. Can you imagine how many they’d help if they get to donate $999 million someday?? If you want to buy awesome hot sauce and want to help make the world a better place at the same time, check out their website at hotsauce4good.com and buy a bottle (or 4) for yourself or someone you love.