Participant Spotlight on… Tracey Richburg
EBV-SU 2017 welcomed aspiring veteran entrepreneurs to Syracuse University. Each one came with a unique story to tell. Here’s one of them. Meet Tracey Richburg.
Sometimes, we don’t find our paths. Our paths find us.
That’s what happened to U.S. Army veteran, Tracey Richburg, CEO of Savannah Sauce Company. She’d spent years in the medical field before beginning her journey as an entrepreneur with her own line of condiments.
“I never saw myself in this industry,” she said. “I’ve always had a medical background, this was just something totally by accident. No business experience whatsoever, no desire to have a business. But it has become my passion.”
The Savannah Sauce Company, based in Savannah, GA, specializes in preservative-free, all-natural condiments like hot sauces, ketchups, relishes and marinades. The company’s portfolio includes 23 varieties, sold in over 40 stores across six states and online. Richburg has plans for expansion, too – Savannah Sauce Company will soon be selling a cookbook filled with submissions from chefs and home cooks around the country.
It all started in 2014 with a spontaneous stop at a shrimp and grits festival while on vacation in Jekyll Island, GA.
“We met a couple who had their own line of sauces. We tried the sauces, and they were really good,” Richburg said.
Richburg and her husband had been thinking of starting an entrepreneurial venture themselves, but in the medical field rather than food manufacturing. They figured doing a distributorship with the couple they’d met would be a good way to bring in some extra income while they worked on their venture.
Soon, though, the company they were working with was unable to keep up with the new demand for its product.
Rather than sacrificing production quality for quantity, Richburg and her husband took matters into their own hands. They formulated the recipes for a new line of sauces and started on a plan for production.
They started with two hot sauces – Land of the Free Chipotle and Home of the Not So Brave But Still Slightly Adventurous Cayenne. They soon realized that not everyone shared their love for hot sauce, though, and started working on more mild options for less daring foodies.
The Savannah Sauce Company took off. Richburg and her husband had recognized a need in the niche all-natural food industry for healthy and creative condiments, and were actively filling it.
“When people taste those sauces and I see that smile on their face, and I know they’re going to be repeat customers,” Richburg said.
Some of their recipes are handed down from family members, while others are originals. Some are even the products of customers’ suggestions. All, though, help Richburg in her philanthropic goal – to help homeless veterans and veterans suffering from PTSD and TBI.
“When I started, I said, ‘if I don’t do anything else – if I don’t make a dollar – at least I want to be able to give back to veterans in some way,’” she said.
Savannah Sauce Company is partnering with the local homelessness authority to help build homes for veterans in a project called, “Tiny Homes for Big Heroes.” Richburg strongly believes in the social responsibility of business, and is happy to be able to give back to her community.
The sauces of the Savannah Sauce Company can be found in select Whole Foods stores as well as online at www.savannahsaucecompany.com.