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Bazodee’s offerings invite a taste of Caribbean flavors into your home.
For Debra Sandler, CEO and Sauce Boss at Morristown, New Jersey-based Mavis Foods, LLC, makers of Bazodee pepper sauce marinades and seasonings, adding new products to her existing line of offerings for Caribbean flavors couldn’t have come at a worse time. As the pandemic was announced earlier this year and lockdowns advised, Sandler introduced two new products — Real Trini Curry and Tamarind Dipping Sauce.
“My goal is to promote Caribbean flavors and food to as many people as possible and, there is huge opportunity for that,” she shares. “What the market considers ethnic sauces have continued to grow and the Caribbean sauces are a tiny portion of that. Some people say why get into that because it’s so small. I look at that and say there is a lot of opportunity, especially because, like any other ‘ethnic sauce,’ it’s not just people from that ethnicity that are interested in it.”
Celebrating Caribbean Flavors
The two new products added this year to Bazodee’s original trio of sauces (Soca Sauce, Marvelous Marinade and Hot Hot Soca Sauce) launched in 2018 are the Real Trini Curry, designed for folks who want curry but don’t have the time or effort to do it the traditional way, and the Tamarind Dipping Sauce is sweet and thick and gives a different flavor profile to any dish. All Bazodee sauces are gluten-free, preservative-free and non-GMO.
Sandler’s Venezuelan and Trinidadian heritage influences the products Caribbean flavors. Bazodee is a Trinidadian word meaning head over heels in love with something or someone. “From the time we first launched, we have an innovation pipeline of sauces that we thought would complement the line, with the message of healthy east Caribbean cooking,” shares Sandler, who brings 35 years of food industry experience to the company.
Sandler runs lean operations with a core team consisting of her aunt, the chief inspiration officer/R&D, her daughter who is chief marketing officer, and her fiancé, the chief financial officer. Products are sold on the website and via Amazon and ship nationally in the United States, but Sandler has plans to expand into Canada next year. While that’s the number one request, there’s another request for Caribbean flavors Sandler is addressing as well.
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“Our Hot Hot Soca Sauce is pretty hot, but there are people that like it even hotter,” she says. For that clientele, Bazodee might have a Hot Hot Hot sauce in the works, with even more scorpion pepper than the current recipe uses.
“Now that we are in this business, what I have learned is in the hot sauce community, they are very passionate about their sauces, and there is a percentage of them always looking for the hottest possible sauces that they can find.”
Learning from the Pandemic
But don’t let all those plans give you the impression that Bazodee wasn’t affected in any way by recent global events. “When the pandemic first hit in March, sales just completely stopped, traffic to the website stopped,” says Sandler.
But as May rolled around and people started commencing normal life a little bit, they also started cooking at home more. “I think that’s where our product became of interest, so we started doing simple weekly video recipes on the website.”
Business started to pick up again, and now Bazodee is gearing up for the holiday season. A sampler gift box of Bazodee’s products with special gift wrap for the holidays is available for the first time on the site and gaining popularity. Fans of the brand can also watch out for a limited run of Bazodee’s sorrel, which sold out last year.
“We are looking to work with a commercial beverage manufacturer to get that out right after Thanksgiving,” says Sandler.
Other aspects of the business have had to morph in response to the pandemic as well. “My career has always been heavy in marketing and we have had to evolve. The more traditional path we were going was not working, so we started experimenting,” she admits.
“From social media to Google ads, to SEO, it literarily has been a year of trial and error.” A foray into home shopping channels such as HSN or QVC has been moved to next year.
“To be honest, I have put a lot on hold because we launched curry and tamarind in the middle of the pandemic,” says Sandler. “We are fortunate that we are still going, but one of the reasons is we are very careful about investment. We have done well, but I would like to see us do better before we continue to add to the line.” As for 2021 and beyond, she adds, “Keep watching for us. We are going to keep investing and moving forward.”
Parlaying Experience into Success
For those in the business with the idea for new products, Sandler shares, “A lot of people have ideas for products…if you believe you have a product that could be successful, the only way you are going to know is to put yourself out there.”
She also warns though against going all out and committing a ridiculous amount of money upfront. “But I encourage folks if you’ve been dreaming and believe you have a product, then find a way to give it a shot.”
Her words of wisdom from her experiences? “I fundamentally believe that when the economy goes through something like what we are going through right now, what history has taught us in the past is that it’s also a time of innovation and entrepreneurism. Pivoting is the most important thing you can do. We will come out of this, we just don’t know when exactly, and we all want to be ready to take advantage of the opportunities to grow at that point of time.”