Side hustles of any flavor can provide relief from the daily grind of a stressful startup, said Venture Legal’s Chris Brown of his “hobby” — delivering the homemade Sweet & Sassy Brownie’s Barbecue sauce.
“Whether you like hiking or making barbecue sauce or riding horses or doing whatever … I think it’s important for people to have something like this, something besides their normal career,” said Brown, founder of the entrepreneur-focused law firm and the barbecue-based business, Brownie’s Barbecue.
Click here to learn more about Brownie’s Barbecue.
The saucy side gig was born in 2017 but originated in 1997 with Brown’s father — Steve “Brownie” Brown, former director of corporate security for Burns & McDonnell — perfecting the Sweet & Sassy recipe in the Brown family kitchen, he said, noting the sauce won many competitions in Kansas City.
“Two years ago, we decided to make it professionally for the first time, and [we thought] it would be awesome if we can make some money on it, but it is just a hobby,” said Brown, with the kickstarter campaign launching the product from the kitchen to the shelves. “Enough people like the sauce and wanted us to make the sauce so we decided to go for it.”
The Kickstarter raise ultimately nearly doubled its $2,500 goal, said Brown, adding the family planned a barbecue celebration the same day of the launch.
“We set the goal somewhat low just to make sure we hit it,” he said, noting the father-son duo had agreed to self-fund most of the project. “Then we were kind of surprised that we got 42 backers, we ended up hitting the goal on the first day — I think it was eight hours, actually.”
“To us, it was more of a marketing and sales goal,” he added. “It was just the easiest way for us to get a lot of people to say, ‘Yes, I’ll buy some,’ and [it was easier] for them to pay us through Kickstarter rather than me going and knocking on doors.”
The father and son took the recipe to manufacturers to recreate the process that had occurred since 1997 on a larger scale, said Brown.
“It would have been too expensive to buy all of our ingredients from the store,” he said. “My dad and I went to the facility and they put all the ingredients in the test batch and we would [compare it] to the the batch that I brought from home, and that took a couple hours until we eventually got the test batch right.”
“There were a lot of regulations that I wasn’t really aware of,” he added, noting that securing the correct nutrition labels and the barcodes turned out to be an extensive process.
The raise enabled the first 500 bottles to be made and sent to backers while the rest settled in Brown’s basement, to be sold whenever a customer asked for it, but largely saved for competitions around the metro, he said.
New batches and order are expected to be placed in March to begin selling to devoted customers, he added, noting plans to approach stores in Kansas City for a place on their shelves and a placement on Amazon.
The biggest hurdle moving forward is expected to be tracking sales and taxes, he said, noting the Venture Legal experience should aid the wrangling of the transactional details.
“We’re not trying to be huge — if it becomes huge, that’s awesome, ” Brown said. “We’re not trying to go nationwide. I was just tired of making it in my house.”
Brownie’s is collaborating with WeWork for a barbecue cookout celebrating Kansas City’s startup community in May, he added.
Click here to read about Chris Brown’s 37 lessons he learned from his five years of being his own boss.