Thanks to you, we completed a crowdfunder to let us move into commercial premises. We made all our sauces better. We changed almost all our labels and shuffled our lineup. We decided not to enter any awards. We sponsored an ice hockey team. We learned who has our back. We sent sauce all over the world and end the year with a production schedule that would crush an ordinary human. We now want to find others like us, to come and make the best hot sauce around.
So what happened?
The most significant thing to happen this year, was our move to commercial premises. The move unlocks potential and opportunity for us. It also managed to consume at least one million percent of our time. This post focusses on it.
We could only produce sauce from January to May in 2022. Our year on year success meant we'd reached the point where producing at home was no longer an option. We agreed to pause production from May until we could resume in a commercial environment. We had made sure to be very busy in those months. We had stored thousands of bottles away by the time May did come.
In March, we got a heads up that a suitable unit in Dyce was becoming available. We started making a nuisance of ourselves to secure it.
By now, we’d become quite friendly with the Aberdeen Lynx ice hockey team and we’d come to three clear conclusions:
- We were collaborating with them immediately
- We were going to sponsor the team in some way for the forthcoming season
- That we LOVE the hockey
We launched two BBQ sauces (mild and not so mild) with 50% of the profits going back to the club. In the most "on brand" sponsorship ever, we now sponsor the pre-game warm up. Our logo is on the teams dedicated warm up jersey. With home games selling out and a very capable team on the ice, our brands are exposed to a lot of happy people.
Buoyed by the idea of our big move happening soon, in April it was time for us to figure out how we were going to fill the gap in the budget we thought we needed. We sprang into action with our crowdfunder and pressed the big "go live" button. We contacted everyone. Posted everywhere. Begged everyone we could think of to get the word out.
Then I started pacing the length of our home kitchen. By the end of day one, there had been several thousand pounds pledged. I'd also amassed over 20k steps. I'd also cried. It was one of the most emotionally charged days of my life.
In only 12 days, we smashed past the funding target to secure the funds we needed to build our kitchen.
And then May arrived and production had to pause until the move happened.
We had assumed an entry date in June, which felt ideal. As things went, we were wrong about June. Very wrong. So with our finite amount of stock, we had to survive from May to whenever we could get our kitchen finished. We didn't know when that would be though. We had to make some big decisions, fast. We had to completely focus on direct sales and temporarily cut off trade orders. That sucked. We had to let down all the people throughout the UK who had shown us support for years stocking our sauces. We then had to cancel some events which annoyed us further. Those of you that know me will have heard the same words from me since the beginning "nothing has stopped me yet and this won't either". Those words were my adrenaline for the next 5 months. As the year went on, we had to cancel more markets. We had to put all our collaboration plans on hold. That meant letting down a bunch of people we were really looking forward to working with. Had we not made these calls, it would all have been over by the middle of August.
June passed, then July. By the end of August we had lost confidence that it was going to happen at all. We were actively investigating other options for immediate entry. Panic had arrived and it parked itself right next to anxiety.
We regularly showed up at the markets in Peterhead, Bridge of Don and Chapelton. We continued to do so until our dwindling supplies meant we couldn't. We were both happy and sad to attend the last ever North Hop Aberdeen event. We also managed to show face at a few other one-off markets/events. We ended the year throughout December at the Aberdeen Christmas Market.
There were only a couple of collaborations this year. I've covered the ice hockey already. Otherwise, we had a little bit of fun with Devon Chilliman. Cliff and myself had hatched a plan involving his Purple Naga Viper Brain chillies. In 2022, we made a sauce. We’re often asked to make more.
September went by. Reviewing our stock levels, we were definitely going to run out of sauce before Christmas. That couldn't happen. People were expecting us to be at the Aberdeen Christmas Market. We got a bit inventive with the remaining stock we had left. We created two new box sets for Christmas called "Het Socks" and "Hat Sass". Het Socks included a bottle of original Het Sass and a pair of custom branded, woven socks. Hat Sass also came with a bottle of original Het Sass but came with an embroidered, ribbed beanie. We brought back our popular Het Set box set. We also had lots of new embroidered hoodies, sweatshirts and caps.
And then… on the 7th October we got the keys. We tagged in our tradesmen and those legends made the time for us and got to work. It was going to take a while to do the work and to get everything in place so we weren't out of the woods yet. In fact, we now had massive bills on top of our shrinking stock and growing anxiety. "Nothing has stopped us yet and this won't either". We got it done. We put a big sign up outside so everyone approaching Dyce by road, air or from space, can see us.
We foolishly thought the thing most likely to cause us pain was biting into a Moruga Scorpion Chilli. That turns out to be a joy compared to affording a commercial electricity contract at the end of 2022.
Our kitchen was ready at the beginning of December.
It was at this point that we ordered the most amount of ingredients we've ever seen. We spent several days sorting, rinsing, chopping and salting those ingredients. From there, we built a "wall" of fermentation tanks in the lab. Those will sit there, bubbling away into the future. Our goal is to keep our wall stacked in an orchestrated rotation so we don't run out of sauce in 2023. Given the backlog of orders and enquiries we currently have, we're not entirely sure that's possible in the first half of the year. But we'll try our damn hardest for you!
The Aberdeen Christmas Market in December, was a success. We sold almost everything we made available for sale. Thank you to the people of Aberdeen who turned out in big numbers. Special mention to the people from France, Norway, Mexico, South Africa, USA and New Zealand we met. You all return home, furnished with Scottish Hot Sauce, socks, hats and plenty of stickers.
Thanks to every one of you who backed, shared or otherwise spoke about our crowdfunder. Thanks to everyone who put their own money on the line because they believe in us. Thanks to friends for your support when we needed it most. Thanks to stockists and partners the length of the UK, for your patience and loyalty. Thanks to those of you in far off lands, for giving me a huge ego with your interest. Thanks as always to my wife Kat who is the stable force of this operation. I might be the kite flying about in the sky but she's the one holding onto my shoelaces to keep me on the planet. Thank you to Kat's dad, my father in law who sadly and unexpectedly, passed away the week before Christmas. Morris was always keen to know how things were going. He loved to contribute his skills from the building trade to help us. He revised plans for the kitchen build and told us where to find materials. He helped us figure out who to talk to and what to ask for. You see, Morris knew well that I didn't have a clue about any of this stuff and he knew he had to take a level of control. That he could do so in such a patient, unobtrusive, caring and effective manner, is a reflection of the man he was. His knowledge was often requested and always valuable. The kitchen wouldn't exist without him. I will miss him.
The only product to make it from 2022 to 2023 in its same recipe and form is our calienté champion, 7 Pot Pineapple. We don’t think we could make this one taste or look any better. So we haven’t tried.
Our great taste award, two star winner, Reapers & Blackberries has always bothered us. Because we always knew it could be better. The award of those stars made us scared to change it. 2022 was the year we grew a set and escaped that limbo. We retired the sauce and threw those stars in the bin. We replaced it with the hot sauce we always wanted it to be. 7 Pot Bramble is here and it’s bangin! Here’s the only review you will ever need about it.
@hairy_spice I swear I don’t get paid to say this 😂 @singularitysauce.co just nail hot sauce for ice cream! #hotsauce #review #lovely #trythis #ohyes ♬ original sound - Hairy Spice
Completing the 7 Pot trilogy is our new 7 Pot Mango hot sauce. This one replaces our legendary Reapers & Mangoes sauce. Thanks to the artwork by Dfunkt Robot, we’ll have no more chat about the inside of dolls houses from Russell Brand. Unless dolls houses are made from tigers these days…
Het Sass got a full re-shuffle and a little re-launch as it’s own brand. The original lineup of 3 recipes got improved and we added two new sauces to the range. It currently sits as a range of 5 sauces but there are at least two more to come. We unleashed Dfunkt Robot at the whole thing so it can have it’s own style. It has stickers, hats, sweatshirts, hoodies and box sets to back it all up.
We retired our Mustard because we weren’t entirely happy with it. It was so popular that we could never keep it in stock but we knew we could do better. It was time it got a bit of left field thinking applied and got itself a little upgrade. There’s the spoiler you were hoping for.
Other sauces we retired this year were Habaneros & Carrots, Purple Naga Viper Brain & Blueberries and Jalapeños & Apples. Sauces with plenty of fans but for different reasons, we’re consigning them to the archives. At least for now.
Buy Ice Cream arrived like a crazed black forest gateaux intent on burning the world to the ground. As in previous years, you bought it all before we knew what was going on. It'll be back in 2023 in the usual small numbers with big heat and even bigger flavour. Always dressed in those STALLAN robes.
Well, we didn’t enter any this year. With the move to our new Sass Lab, we didn’t think we could give them the time required. Because our production capacity was at zero, we wouldn’t have been able to cope had we done well. We're selective about the awards we'll enter and we’ll come out swinging in 2023 in the places that matter to us. Hold tight.
Our main aim is not to run out of sauce this year. We also have some crowdfunder rewards to fulfil now we have a functioning kitchen. There are already some exciting collaborations on the radar, with friends old and new. We’re going to push on. We're looking at taking things on the road, by attending some events outside of N.E Scotland. We’re going to show you how much we love doing this and we’re going to bring Het Sass to the people of the world.
We have set up accounts with Royal Mail, DHL and a courier broker ahead of the new year. We're ready to get everything out to you. I will no longer be ruining the days of the staff at the local shop/post office with huge bags of parcels.
Now that we've moved, our new "big project" is to find others like us. We need people not scared to heat and flavour check a super hot chilli at 8am. People happy to go home reeking of hot sauce late at night. Think that’s you? Let Mark know.
We made it to the end of the year. For five months of the year, it felt like we were swimming through custard but you know what? We now have a hot sauce lab ready to hit the ground running in 2023. Having made difficult decisions fast and early, we gave ourselves a chance. By thinking on our feet about products we didn't need a kitchen to make, we survived. And we now have more friends than ever before. All the horror that came our way this year couldn't stop us. We ensured there is a stronger business at the end of it all. On 23rd December, we shut down our new kitchen for the year. We'll be back around 6th Jan 2023 ready to show you what we can really do from our new Lab.
We're extending an invitation to any like minded businesses who'd like to work with us in 2023. After a rollercoaster 2022, we’re good to go. Nothing has stopped us yet…