‘Humility will get you further than money:’ Mutt’s Sauce owner is growing her business during the pandemic
“E-commerce is easier to scale. The biggest setback right now is having the capital to market the products across all of our sales channels and making sure you have all the help you need to make them happen,” Scales said.
Since switching to e-commerce, Scales appeared on a podcast in June 2020. The company sold $16,000 worth of sauce within 24 hours. Mutt’s has also since partnered with QVC, selling 4,000 bottles of sauce for a ten-minute segment.
Mutt’s Sauce has also doubled down on its efforts with local organizations, creating a limited-edition sauce made with Dayton Barrel Works bourbon and donating $5,000 worth of sauce to the House of Bread community kitchen through a grant.
“The best support is local,” she said. “You’re not going to grow as a brand if you don’t focus on the people closest to you.”
Mutt’s Sauce is headquartered in Beavercreek and packed in Dayton. Mutt’s Sauce has been in business for eight years and is named after Scales’ grandfather, Charlie “Mutt” Ferrell Jr. Ferrell, who joined the Air Force as an aircraft mechanic at age 18 in 1951 and served until 1972.
Her grandfather was the first person to greet her at her commissioning ceremony at Clemson University.
“The silver dollar salvation, that’s what it’s called. It’s one of my most treasured memories,” she said.
Ferrell was known for the sauce made from her “secret” family recipe, originally developed in 1956. When her grandfather died, Scales thought his recipe might disappear forever, until her mother gives him an envelope with the only written copy.
“All his children were still alive. I am the third grandchild. I am not a chef, and in a family of very good cooks, I am the worst,” she said.
Nonetheless, Scales has been bringing his grandfather’s sauce to American households since 2013, aiming to end 2022 in over six figures, and have Mutt’s Sauce in at least one American household in every state.
To be an e-commerce brand is to be at the forefront of public opinion on the Internet. Black founders must also weigh their business growth online with the spotlight that comes with the territory.
“While I love the term ‘representation matters’ and am glad to see so many companies offering grants and opportunities to close those gaps and increase diversity, it’s a whole different burden than to be ‘the representation,'” Scales said.
To be the change, black founders must be in the room where decisions are made. Fighting for a place in these spaces is not easy.
“I’ve seen founders turn away from board positions or grant opportunities because ‘I haven’t seen a minority’ or ‘I don’t want handouts.’ Ruby Bridges was 6 years old when she willingly suffered death threats from adults for daring to join our schools,” Scales said. “Somebody’s got to be first. Somebody’s got to be the plan. Someone’s you; someone’s me.
Mutt’s Sauce is available locally at Dots Market stores, Wright-Patterson AFB Commissary, several local Krogers, and Maria’s Unique Foods at 2nd Street Market.
The greatest piece of advice Scales ever got from his grandfather is “Humility will get you further than money.” Her background as an Air Force veteran and business founder has shaped her approach to business and life.
“Our sauce is symbolic of a greater mission, to bring American families together. Especially now, the more we can focus on what unites us, the stronger we will be as a country,” she said.