Today we’d like to introduce you to Veronica Westlake.
Hi Veronica, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstories.
My salsa story starts with me consistently being disappointed with store-bought salsas and sauces. Surely somebody could come up with a recipe for a shelf-stable salsa product that was fresh, healthy, and vinegar-free. And more importantly, a salsa that tastes like something I would make in my kitchen or find at a restaurant.
Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Starting a new business is never an easy venture without deep financial pockets, prior expertise, and/or success in a related field. No, it has not been a smooth road, but the journey has been exceptional. I believe the key to conquering any trials that are business-related begin with a positive mindset and the ability to adapt and change. If you’re going to be anything in business, be flexible, sustainable, realistic, and resilient. Currently, supply chain issues are impacting all small businesses. This new challenge will mostly create delays in product fulfillment and possible changes in the look of packaging. In my business, we’ve had to change jar shapes and the kinds of labels we print on. In the new year, we might have different colored lids. It’s a bit like Pandora’s Box that has opened and you don’t know what to expect next. All the same, just fill the orders and stay in business.
Great, so let’s talk business. Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
La Casita Hot Sauce was created in my kitchen due to my frustration with mediocre salsas that I was buying weekly in stores. What I would want people to know about La Casita Hot Sauce is that I was able to develop 5 award-winning salsas that are gaining traction across North Texas and hopefully the Houston marketplace in 2022.
I’d want you to know that while my primary job is managing and operating the day-to-day
After years of working on brand building and product credibility, I am finally seeing the efforts to stay in front of customers pay off in that our customer base is growing and folks are so loyal. People know that La Casita Products are going to be farm-to-table fresh, vinegar-free, low sodium, and the red salsas don’t contain onions. We have a strong following amongst the folks that don’t like chunky salsas or those that despise onions. It’s a fun niche!
Brand wise, I am so proud and grateful for the nationwide recognition we have received by the Scovie Awards and Zest Fest. Both organizations judge salsas and hot sauces similar to my own, but we always come out in the winner’s circle and that is a testament to the quality of La Casita Hot Sauce products. Most recently, La Casita Hot Sauce was chosen as the Go Texan People’s Choice Award Winner. I won a $500 gift that the company really needed to recoup the fees of being at the State Fair of Texas. It’s an honor to be recognized by our peers and we appreciate the support of the Texas Department of Agriculture.
We decided after the January 2020 Gourmet Food Show not to renew my lease at Dallas Market Center. I hated to make that decision, but it was in the best interest of the family. I didn’t re-sign my lease in February and in March the world shut down. To say the least, I believe that decision was a divine act of providence on my behalf. I am so grateful that we joined a wholesale platform called Faire.Com as it has expanded our business nationwide and offers small merchants and vendors fantastic financial and shipping terms. I encourage all who can to join this platform!
Finally, I am very excited that 2020 gave me the opportunity to revisit my email list and get busy with a monthly newsletter. Each month, I send 1 newsletter that has some fun interviews and information from a guest recipe creator, a new recipe, and a COUPON code that is good all month for online orders. Just go to my website www.lacasitahotsauce.
How do you think about happiness?
Happy? I am! I recently saw so many friends from my former profession and they could tell that I am so happy working and building La Casita and I also still teach 2 days a week at my daughter’s school. Most importantly, what keeps me steady and happy is my family. I’ve been married to Todd for 28 years and he is my partner in all things. My beautiful daughter Bella is a busy 13-year-old and I find great joy in raising a courageous young woman. Finally, my anchor is my choice to live my life as a Christian. Am I a perfect Christian? Far from it! But I embrace all of my faults and know that my faith and church will carry me successfully through life. It’s just a matter of staying the course, choosing to become better, and making the world around me a better place to live as well. We say, “Be the Change.” OK, then let it start with me.
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