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Feb 26, 2021

When discussing the unconventionality of her brand’s name and label design, Starr Edwards, the co-founder and CEO of Bitchin’ Sauce, a maker of vegan, almond-based dips, described herself as “the Bob Ross of branding.” There were “a lot of happy accidents,” she noted.

Those playful mishaps provided the foundation for what is now one of the fastest-growing brands in its category. Launched in 2004, Bitchin’ Sauce emerged as a cult hit at farmers markets in Southern California as consumers embraced its unapologetically quirky labels and commitment to clean ingredient formulations. While the packaging and ingredients have essentially remained the same over the years, the brand’s retail footprint has grown dramatically: Bitchin’ Sauce is sold nationwide at over 6,800 retail stores, including those of Costco, Walmart, Target, Albertsons and 7-Eleven. 

In an interview included in this episode, Edwards and her co-founder and husband L.A. discussed about how a passion for veganism and music provided a foundation for the brand’s origins, how they landed a deal with Costco early into the brand’s development and why they believe that owning a production facility has given them an advantage when working with retailers. They also spoke about how consumers perceive and respond to the brand’s name and why they’ll never change the primary elements of its packaging, as well as how they worked with 7-Eleven to develop an exclusive line of products for the retailer.

Show notes:

0:36: Nowhere Else Exists A Retailer Like This One… Yet -- The episode’s hosts chatted about their weekly Clubhouse meet-up, a New York Times profile on upscale grocery chain Erewhon, the news that Oatly might be valued at $2 billion or more and discussed new products to come across their desks in recent days, including plant-based milks, clean label energy drinks and non-alcoholic spirits. 

22:01: Interview: Starr & L.A. Edwards, Co-Founders, Bitchin' Sauce -- The Edwards spoke with Taste Radio editor Ray Latif about raising four kids while building a small business, why Starr juggled multiple jobs as a teenager and how being the mechanic for L.A.’s band was helpful down the road. They also discussed how their relationship with Costco began and grew, how they saved hundreds of thousands of dollars in building their production facility, getting up to speed on food safety and why an alternative name for the brand is never as popular as the original. Later, they explained why they’ve tried to stay under the radar when it comes to press, when to say “yes” to retailers and how the pandemic actually supported consumer trial of Bitchin’ Sauce.

Brands in this episode: Bitchin’ Sauce, Imperfect Foods, Ithaca Hummus, Oatly, MALK, Rise Brewing Co., Better Than Milk, Fat Snax, Naya Foods, Base Culture, Brew Dr. Kombucha, Highkey, Hydrant, Fluere, Tanqueray