In our brand spotlight, we feature Abound brands who are ready for retail. This week we sat down with Matt and Tiffany Rogers, owners of RogersMade. RogersMade sells artisanally crafted gourmet and home products, is based in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and has been in business for three years.
Robin: Why did you decide to start this business? Why this business and not a different one?
Matt and Tiffany: In 2006, having spent many years as hobbyist crafters, we started our first business making and selling candles and body care products at fairs and festivals. As we continued to grow and develop as both artisans and business people, we saw an opportunity to grow our business into the gourmet food market with a soda product.
In 2011 we launched Pure Sodaworks, making and selling fountain sodas soda-jerk-style from our own custom-built soda cart. Once we had a commercial kitchen of our own, we began experimenting with a variety of other products and ingredients. In 2016, we launched RogersMade under which we began making and selling all of our brands and products.
R: How did you make your first prototype? What changes have you made to your product since then?
M+T: Research and development is core to our business. We are in a near-constant state of developing new products and brands. Our original products were developed based on our own experiences as hobbyists.
R: How do you make your product? What’s your process like?
M+T: All of our products are made by hand in our Chattanooga, Tennessee facility.
Robin: Do you have a favorite food or product that you’re proud of?
M+T: The two of us, while we truly love everything that we make, are especially proud of our Stomp and Holler Gourmet Sauces. Stomp and Holler was born, of course, out of our serious mutual love for hot sauce. We knew, however, that we wanted to make a brand of spicy sauces that didn’t just bring the heat. We wanted them to taste absolutely delicious as well. ‘Fiery but friendly,’ as we say.
We wanted to make sauces that were so tasty, people would insist on having them out on the dinner table regularly, instead of tucking them away in a kitchen cabinet somewhere. Everyday sauces for any time, any meal. It was a tall order, but we feel like we rose to the task, and accomplished it. Most importantly, we’re thrilled that our ever-growing number of Stomp and Holler customers seem to agree.
R: What’s your day to day like? Do you have any favorite and least favorite parts?
M+T: We start our days in the 6 o’clock hour with either an in-home workout or a walk in the nearby park with our dogs, Ripley (a long-haired dachshund) and Dexter (a Pembroke Welsh corgi).
After that, we enjoy breakfast while we have our morning devotion and planning and creative meeting. After that, it’s off to our studio to tackle the day’s production. We finish around 6:00 or 7:00 pm so we can head home for dinner and more quality time spent with the dogs.
R: What was your initial investment? How did you get the money?
M+T: Aside from a 2011 Kickstarter to help raise funds for a bottling line for Pure Sodaworks (we raised $23,111), we are completely bootstrapped.
R: Where was the first place you sold your product?
M+T: Online and at fairs, festivals, and markets.
R: Where do you sell your product now?
M+T: Our products are in gourmet stores nationwide from Alaska to New York to California to Texas and just about everywhere in-between.
R: Where would you love to sell your products in the future?
M+T: We would love to see our products in stores such as Williams-Sonoma, Fresh Market, World Market, etc.
R: What’s your marketing like? Is social media an important part of your business? If so, how?
M+T: From day one, we have focused on social media as a primary means of day-to-day marketing with a healthy focus on public relations as well.
Robin: Do you have any particular social media strategies or PR moves you’ve made that have worked out well?
M+T: Keep putting yourself out there. The best PR we’ve received has been from magazine articles, awards we’ve received, and social media shout-outs (all of which we are so incredibly grateful for) but, none of those things happen without believing in yourself and what you make, and being willing to put it out there.
So, be courageous! Send that press release. Go for that award. Submit that article. Post that beautiful image. It all works together, but none of it comes to fruition without you being willing to take those initial leaps.
R: What are some of the most frustrating challenges and/or moments you’ve had with RogersMade?
M+T: Since starting our first business, we have had to move a lot due to a variety of circumstances. Shutting down operations and moving to a new location always poses challenges.
R: What are some of the greatest achievements and victories you’ve had with RogersMade?
M+T: Having our products featured by major national publications such as Food and Wine, Southern Living, Country Living, and Garden & Gun Magazine is always a great feeling.
R: What advice do you have for people who want to sell a product?
M+T: First, deep dive into research. Learn everything you can about your industry and your target market. Second, have a complete understanding of all your costs. And third, know your worth. Don’t be afraid to price your products in order to make money.
R: Is there any business advice or quotes you’ve heard that you think about often?
M+T: “Without ambition, one starts nothing. Without work, one finishes nothing. The prize will not be sent to you. You have to win it.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
R: What’s your favorite thing about being a business owner?
M+T: For us, the number one benefit of being business owners is having the freedom and flexibility to create our own schedules.
Awesome Q&A, RogersMade!