This Entrepreneur Worked For Years To Sell Her Authentic Mexican Sauces To The World And It Paid Off
In 2013, Lori Sandoval found herself in a tough predicament where she had to figure out what to do with her career. Fresh out of college and with plans to go to culinary school, she knew a career in food was part of her future. So she decided to pursue her passion and start a business around salsa where she could connect her Latina culture and background in cooking. Five years later, Sandoval is the proud owner of Salsaology, a line of all-natural and non-GMO cooking sauces inspired by regional Mexican flavors. The salsas reflect Sandoval’s desire to change the narrative on how Mexican products are viewed.
When Lori Sandoval first started making her salsa, she knew that she was on to something special.credit: Salsaology
Sandoval knew that if she put her background and experience into the salsas, she’d do great things with it. So she began showcasing her salsas at farmer markets. It wasn’t long until she realized this could be something bigger than a farmers market booth. She met a Whole Foods Market buyer who told Sandoval that if she could get the salsa mass produced they would carry her product in a few stores.
“I thought it would be easy to just start making them from home and go from there but I didn’t know there was so many guidelines and food standards to sell at Whole Foods,” Sandoval says. “That’s when I started looking for a manufacturer to help.”
Finding a manufacturer became one of Sandoval’s biggest challenges because of her ingredients.
She was denied by countless manufacturers that simply didn’t grasp what her product was truly about. Despite the passion she had and the success of the salsas, manufactures just didn’t understand it.
Manufacturers didn’t understand why her salsas had so many ingredients let alone their significance.credit: Salsaology
“They didn’t get it. They couldn’t understand that a salsa could have so many ingredients,” Sandoval says. “Everyone kept saying no and telling me you’re never going to sell $12 salsa.”
Sandoval says she kept having to explain to people the importance of her product and reminding them that salsa is more than just something you dip your chips in. She recalls constantly hearing stereotypical comments about Mexican food and manufacturers turning her away.
“I found myself having to defend my product and explaining that salsa means sauce.” Sandoval says.
After a year of getting her business shot down she finally got a yes from a manufacturer. However, there was one caveat — she had to get the ingredients herself. Sandoval agreed to the terms and would soon find herself driving through Los Angeles at the crack of dawn picking up ingredients in her SUV. She recalls the long mornings going from warehouse to warehouse getting pallets of cilantro and hibiscus and packing them in her car.
“That period in my life taught me a lot not only about food and how to start a business but about myself,” Sandoval says. “I did that for a year and knew this was what I needed to do.”
Today, Salsaology is sold across the country and has won multiple awards for it’s taste.credit: Salsaology
By 2015, Sandoval’s vision was starting to take shape as Salsaology was getting picked up in over 250 markets across the country. Her vision of starting a business that was true to her background and culture was becoming a reality.
“When I saw the sauces at Whole Foods it was years of work come true,” Sandoval says. “I always wanted to create something that was part of me and there it was. I couldn’t believe it.”
Today, Salsaology is an award-winning sauce that has been sold across the U.S. and as far as Paris. Her line of sauces has grown to four including a seasonal pumpkin sauce with plans to eventually lower costs on her products. Sandoval credits those tough days jump starting her business as a reminder of where things are today.
“I wanted to create something you would find in Mexico but make it so you could experience it in your own home,” Sandoval says. “I feel that by making these sauces I’m taking back our food and re-creating what it really means to be authentic.”
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