The the first words you want to hear when confessing your dream to start a culinary business to your family definitely aren’t, “Can you even cook?” However, that’s exactly what one saucy entrepreneur heard when she decided to leap head first into her dream.
“I didn’t know that the child could cook at the time,” says company CEO Kelly Beard about her sister Jorrae Beard, company COO and the creator of their Lulu Bang Sauces. “We really never cooked quite honestly, it was always something that my mom did for us. We watched, and Jorrae used to really watch quite intently.”
Jorrae, who doesn’t have any professional culinary training, developed her kitchen IQ by watching others—their parents (their mother was the family’s primary cook while their father was a former Navy chef) and as an assistant to a few executive chefs in the Philadelphia area. After divulging her desire to take her multi-use barbeque sauces to market, Jorrae organized a tasting at her sister Kelly’s house; and the Lulu Bang Sauce line launched from there.
“[Kelly] invited about 20 people over and I made the sauces. When she tasted them, she said to me, ‘This is going to make me a million dollars,’” says Jorrae. “I was like, ‘really?’ Ever since then, she jumped in and pretty much ran with it. She got it bottled, and worked diligently to get it on the market. And here we are today.”
And by “here” she means practically everywhere. Through the assistance of Kelly’s business acumen and financial backing, Lulu Bang sauces (original, hot, Asian-flavored Bourbon marinade BBQ), are now in 200 WalMart stores across 22 states as well as several local Philadelphia ShopRite grocery stores.
But obviously that initial sweet taste of success wasn’t enough to sate their appetite. With ambitions to expand their reach, the sisters turned their sights to ABC’s Shark Tank, seeking an investment to help with branding, marketing and advertising. In tonight’s episode (airing Oct 28; 9 p.m. EST), the ladies will see if their sauce business is tempting enough to bait the show’s millionaire moguls into a business venture. And while the sisters were admittedly nervous about the experience, they already see it as win-win in their book.
“Quite honestly, going on Shark Tank is a deal,” says Kelly. “Every step along the way [in the show’s vetting process] is an educational opportunity. For us it was just a realization that we really are on point, we really worked hard to get to where we are. Being on there really validated and solidified who we are as a company. I think that no matter what the outcome is for anybody, of course we can’t say what that outcome is, to be able to stand there and pitch your product is a dream come true.”
Nina Reeder is a professional journalist, who has worked as senior editor at Upscale magazine and contributed to publications and outlets, such as EBONY magazine, AOL.com, Marriott Hotels, BMWK and more.