Willie Byrd Chocolate Sauces
“Our Story is About Family, Love and Chocolate”
- In what year did your company begin operation?
Our company started in 2013 but the story actually started in 1994 when my mother gave me my Dad’s chocolate sauce recipe as a gift. It was his favorite. He kept it in a cupboard with a small spoon beside it. Occasionally, he shared.
Our family has been making this sauce and sharing it with others ever since. Friends couldn’t get enough and some just ate it right out of the jar with a spoon!
Realizing we had something special, my daughters and I decided to produce my Dad’s sauce for everyone. Through a series of trials and learning curves we have launched Willie Byrd Dark Chocolate Sauces. We named them after my Dad, William Byrd Rawlings, known to his best friends as “Willie Byrd”.
- How do you define success? Are you “there” yet?
Success happened when Whole Foods called me while I was at a party, and asked if I could please bring them 6 cases of my sauce that night. I never thought I would get a call from Whole Foods; to me that was success!!
- How long did it take to be successful? What challenges did you face in establishing your company?
Just recently we feel successful in our goals. We still have a long way to go, but we are happy with our progress. Starting a company and getting it established presents a myriad of challenges and a huge learning curve.
Scaling your recipe for 27 gallons of chocolate to 4 small jars, to getting your brand out there, marketing, selling, developing new flavors, you name it and as an entrepreneur, you will have to do it.
- How long did your initial roll-out for the above product line take (months or years?) and how much did it cost? ($5,000? $20,000?) What kind of funding was available to you?
Our first jar came off the assembly line in August of 2013, eight months after we started. At this point we had spent $5,000. We used our own money from the start.
- Please share your insights and advice for new to industry companies.
I feel unworthy to give advice, but I would say be true to your product and make it with the best ingredients you can. Be prepared to work hard. It is all a labor of love and it will show in your product if you are true to your ideals.
- How do you define your “vision”? Where do you want to be in 5 or 10 years?
My vision is to be the next Hershey’s of America. I may be reaching a bit far, but I know my product is the best on the market.
- Did you participate in the 2015 Specialty Food Association Winter or Summer Fancy Food Shows? If yes, what was your total investment (booth, travel, drayage, promotion, etc?)
We participated in the Specialty Food Association in 2014 but not this year. Our products were also winners in the Virginia Living Magazine 2014 Best of Virginia Award.
Ann Colby, President
532 St. Albans Way
Richmond, VA 23229