by Lauren Perez
It's no secret that 2020 presented a whole new set of challenges for small food business owners. We are so inspired by anyone that took these challenges as opportunities and started a food business in the last year. Read on to learn more about Rebecca, how she started her food business during Covid, and what she's learned so far.
My name is Rebecca and I am a musician and entrepreneur who is native to San Diego, California. For most of my life, I have worked professionally as a classical musician and music educator. However, alongside my passion for music grew my passions for gardening, creating new recipes, and discovering flavors from around the globe. From a young age I grew up making authentic Mexican cuisine, and my passion for sauces and bold flavors stemmed from this influence. I love extreme spicy peppers—my favorites are the Scorpion and Ghost Peppers—but I regularly eat hot sauce with an emphasis on flavor rather than an overpowering heat. I truly believe that the more you eat good quality hot sauce, the more discerning and tolerable your palette will become. Through Pepper Queen Farms, I hope to continue my mission of helping others learn how to eat and appreciate hot sauce.
Although I have always been extremely passionate about creating new recipes and experimenting with new flavors, my schedule as a musician and music teacher did not allow me any time to actively pursue this interest. Instead, I took advantage of small opportunities to experiment with hot sauce by pairing my own hot sauce with meals at restaurants, bars, and experimenting with hot sauces in my cooking at home. People will often ask what I’m eating and I invite them to try my hot sauce. When I encounter someone who says they can’t eat anything spicy, I help them figure out how to integrate spice into the background of their food in a way that enhances the flavor without being overwhelming. I love when I am able to use my hot sauce to inspire new recipes and bring people together, and the sudden decrease of in-person performances and lessons due to coronavirus allowed me the time I needed to pursue this passion of mine at a grander scale.
Although the COVID-19 pandemic provided me the time to start Pepper Queen Farms, it also resulted in several challenges to starting my business. On the logistical side, COVID-19 prolonged the process for filling out preliminary paperwork and acquiring a business license. Also, materials such as the seeds to start growing vegetables on my farm and the bottles for packaging my hot sauce went out of stock quicker because businesses were struggling to refill their inventories quickly or were unable to stay open for business. The shipping of supplies in general was slowed down, which made the process of turning my recipes into product much more difficult.
I overcame these setbacks by continuing to be diligent. These challenges prompted me to think outside of what I would be able to do easily and forced me to be adaptable. Since my first crop was planted later than planned, I made connections with other local farms to acquire ingredients to supply me for this first year. Since my bottles are an untraditional shape and size within the hot sauce industry I searched vigorously to find a supplier who could make labels in the shape and size that I needed. Through continued dedication and passion for my hot sauce endeavor, I was able to figure out solutions to overcome the obstacles that stood in my way.
If I’ve learned anything through my experience starting up Pepper Queen Farms, it is that you can be successful through perseverance and adaptability. Although I carefully plan and envision specific goals for my business, obstacles always pop up unexpectedly. If you are willing to accept the obstacles as they come and change your process as needed, your capability as a creator and entrepreneur will benefit because of it.
If you are interested in tasting any of my flavors of hot sauce, you can purchase some of your own at Pepper Queen Farms. We ship our products all over the United States and even as far north as Canada! To see behind the scenes footage and follow along as we make and release our products, follow @PepperQueenFarms on Instagram and Facebook.
We are a shared kitchen located in San Diego, California. For nearly a decade we have guided local businesses through the messy world of edible entrepreneurship. We now have a platform to share our knowledge with the world. Learn like a pro, cook like a pro, profit like a pro.