In our brand spotlight, we feature Abound brands who are ready for retail. This week we sat down with Octavio Orozco, owner of Chilesquiles. Chilesquiles sells cooking sauces and salsas, is based in Spring, Texas, and has been in business for three years.
Robin: Why did you decide to start this business?
Octavio: I always wanted to develop a project that could teach my kids the processes required to start an income-generating business. One day I was talking with my ex-wife about this idea and the conversation spread so we decided to continue it the next day.
I said, “Why don’t we have some chilaquiles for breakfast?” and she said, “I wish there was a sauce to cook chilaquiles and that way I could save the time of preparation.”
The next morning I went to look for a sauce for chilaquiles in the stores and I didn’t find it! I checked online to see if I could buy one and I found sauces for enchiladas, tacos, fajitas, etc., but none that was just for chilaquiles! And that’s how the idea was born.
R: What are chilaquiles?
O: Chil-A-quiles are a traditional Mexican dish made with fried corn tortillas and the key ingredient is the sauce that you use to prepare the meal. You can top the dish with many ingredients. Chicken, pork, eggs, beans, avocado, cheese, etc.
Chil-E-quiles is the brand of our company and is the essential sauce to cook the chilaquiles dish and prepare many other recipes. You can marinate your food in it, put it on top of your meal, or use it as a dip with chips like any salsa.
R: How did you make your first prototype? What changes have you made to your product since then?
O: These are the same sauces we use to cook at home. The recipes are authentic and original. We have always maintained the quality in their fresh and handmade production.
R: How do you make your product? What’s your process like?
O: We make weekly productions, maintaining a handcrafted process and in small batches. We make them inside a commercial kitchen that we have in Tomball, Texas.
R: What are your sauces like?
O: We have five flavors ranging from mild to spicy. We are not in the category of a hot sauce, but we are always looking for recipes that give us fresh and homemade flavors rather than just spicy taste.
All of them are delicious and some are best combined with certain dishes. In my case Molcajete Salsa is my everyday sauce, I like the flavor it adds to my meals, it’s a spicy sauce.
R: What was your initial investment? How did you get the money?
O: It was a small investment of about $5,000 to cover the costs of the first production in the commercial kitchen and to buy equipment to sell in the local farmers’ market.
R: Where was the first place you sold your product?
O: The local farmers’ market in Spring, Texas.
R: Where do you sell your product now?
O: Now we sell in several farmers’ markets, festivals, specialty stores, and on our own online store.
R: Where would you love to sell your products in the future?
O: My focus has always been on small general stores, gift shops or gourmet stores that offer handcrafted products that are small productions.
R: What’s your marketing like? Is social media an important part of your business? If so, how?
O: I am a believer in marketing, advertising and communication. They are essential for business development and brand growth. Social media is a platform that helps us reach many people who have not tried our sauces.
It helps us share personal and family stories of our small business, as well as find places where we can be available for people. We can also share recipes, cooking tips and news relevant to our Mexican food culture.
R: What are some of the most frustrating challenges and/or moments you’ve had with your business?
O: We started selling our sauces in the farmers’ markets and today we continue with that sales strategy. The challenge is to cover as many places as possible with a qualified sales staff. It will never be the same passion that an owner puts into selling his product as an associate who is only working to cover his hours.
R: What are some of the greatest achievements and victories you’ve had with your business?
O: My greatest satisfaction is the response of people who try, buy and buy back Chilesquiles. We receive fantastic and authentic stories from customers who enjoy our sauces and share them with their friends or family. For many of them we are already their home sauce and many people buy us as a gift. That makes us very special.
You have to try Chilesquiles to believe that we are unique and different in our category. The flavors are fresh, authentic, and made from scratch. We are a very versatile sauce that can be used for cooking, as a topping that adds flavor to your meals, or can be enjoyed as a salsa with chips. We truly are one of the best hand made sauces in Texas that exists today.
R: Is there any business advice or quotes you’ve heard that you think about often?
O: I don’t have the money to start a business. False! You don’t need large capital to start, you just need an idea that works with the intended market and the rest is your job. Today’s digital tools and e-commerce make it much easier to develop small local businesses with a national scope.
R: What’s your favorite thing about being a business owner?