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Oct 23, 2020

Jing Gao’s mission to “bring uncensored Chinese flavors to the table” has made her brand a hot commodity.

An award-winning chef and former restaurant owner, Gao is the founder and CEO of Fly By Jing, an innovative brand of Sichuan-inspired sauces and seasonings that launched in 2018 and is known for its modern take on Chinese cuisine.

In recent months, Gao has overseen a massive spike in demand for the brand’s products, which include a chili crisp, dumpling sauce and mala spice. The surge, driven partly by a New York Times article praising the versatility of the chili crisp, along with the brand’s rabid fan base -- Fly By Jing has over 25,000 Instagram followers -- has put Gao in the enviable, albeit complex, position of managing a very fast-growing company. 

In an interview included in this episode, Gao discussed the origins of her passion for Chinese food culture and why she set out to create a brand that could elevate consumers’ expectations for the cuisine’s flavors while increasing Americans’ accessibility to high quality Sichuan-inspired condiments. She also discussed the company’s customer acquisition and marketing strategies, the thought process behind  its upcoming rebrand, managing shortfalls in production and how she addressed racist comments posted on the brand’s Instagram page.

Show notes: 

0:31: “Star Trek Supernova” > Blue Steel; The Best Of 2020 and Cycling Through A Trademark Battle -- The hosts riffed on Jacqui’s athletic prowess, why you shouldn’t cut your own hair and how entrepreneurs can take the first steps toward winning a BevNET or NOSH Best Of 2020 award. They also discussed why Peloton is angry at Peloton, the upcoming deadline to participate in New Beverage Showdown 20 and Pitch Slam 9, why a recent rebrand had Mike seeing stars and rainbows and why Ray could chug an entire bag of drizzled popcorn.

20:13: Interview: Jing Gao, Founder/CEO, Fly By Jing -- Gao spoke with BevNET CMO Mike Schneider about why she changed her name from Jing to Jenny and then back again, how her travels to China ignited her interest in traditional Chinese cooking and led her to transition out of the corporate world and into a career in food. She also discussed Fly By Jing’s origins as an underground restaurant concept, the decision to launch a consumer brand and why she was intent on using high quality ingredients for the products, and how she leaned on her network in the U.S. and Canada to achieve the highest funded Kickstarter campaign for a craft food product and build a foundation for its consumer base. Later, she spoke about the company’s success in landing widespread media coverage, launching the brand via e-commerce, facing production and logistical challenges that arose from crushing demand, why creating packaging that was “approachable” was key to the rebrand and what’s next for Fly By Jing. 

Brands in this episode: Fly By Jing, Don Ciccio & Figli, Solento Tequila, Sweet Chaos, Honey Mama’s, Nuun, Huy Fong