At Formosa Hot Sauce, a Lifetime of Passion
Edible interviewed Julio Lopez Velasquez, founder and CEO of Formosa Hot Sauce, about life as an artisan – building his business online with their Squarespace website, finding a home for their hot sauce in stores, and the passion that drives it all.
What were you doing before you started Formosa Hot Sauce?
Before Formosa, I was and have been running multiple businesses. I had a thriving real estate company and film production company. I go where my passion takes me; I don’t limit my imagination. I believe we are what we limit ourselves to be.
Describe the moment when you decided to start your business.
I came to this country at the age of 15 years old and my first job was in a kitchen, as a dishwasher. I eventually worked my way up to becoming a sous chef. My love for food grew as a consequence. I began to dream of having my own line of sauces and spices.
What are the benefits of having an online business?
It’s been tremendous for us. Since we’re still a relatively small operation, getting the word out can be difficult. But with the help of Squarespace and social media platforms, such as Instagram and Facebook, we’ve been able to reach a wide audience without breaking the bank for marketing and customer engagement. We’ve been able to cultivate an organic following and been able to reach out to individual people who are just as passionate about our sauces as we are.
What has been your biggest victory so far?
Our biggest achievement has been our continued expansion. In just our 3rd year of being fully operational, our sauces are in over 90 stores in the U.S. alone. Formosa is also being sold through TJ Maxx and Home Goods in Canada, and TJ Maxx in England, Germany, and Poland. Additionally, we’ve been featured in subscription services such as: Fuego Box, Man Crates, and Hatchery. It hasn’t been easy, but it’s been such a rewarding experience.
Where do you hope your business is in 5 years?
I hope that Formosa is able to grow to a point where it is in virtually every supermarket in this country. It’s important to me that I’m able to share a bit of what makes my culture unique and great. As a Latino and, most importantly, an immigrant, I want to be able to contribute to the collective cultural conversation.
If not hot sauce, what else would you do?
I’m doing it! It’s acting. When I was a kid, Michael Jackson’s Thriller video made me fall in love with the entertainment business. Becoming an actor has been a dream of mine since then. I had my son at the age of 19, so I had to put my dream on hold. But now, with him being an adult, I have fully thrown myself back into pursuing it again.
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