We recently celebrated one year since we opened our ecommerce shop and what a year it has been! It took a lot for us to get to this point and to even get to a point where we could launch in the first place. Thank you for all of your support in helping us have such a successful first year.
For those of you who don’t know us, our names are Sam and Henry and we are two brothers who grew up in CT. We started the journey to launch this company back in 2020 when we quarantined together in CT. As brothers, we’ve always been close, but it had been a long time since we lived under the same roof together. Back in early 2020, Sam was working from home and Henry was between jobs taking some time off when the lockdown started. To keep himself occupied, Henry spent a lot of time cooking and fermenting and hot sauce was one of the projects he got into. Since in person dinner parties couldn’t happen, he used hot sauce as a way to keep in touch and connect with friends and family, through food during the pandemic. It was not quite the same as a meal in person, but it was enough to get the conversation started.
First test batch of Hook & Arrow hot sauce 2020
The hot sauces went out in the mail and then the feedback came in through email, text, messages on social media, over Zoom and phone calls. That’s when Sam chimed in and convinced his brother they should make this thing a company. So we did!!
While we always enjoyed home cooking, this category was completely foreign to us. The only real experience either of us had in the food industry was Henry’s first job washing dishes at a pizzeria. So we started digging and one of the best resources we found was Craft Hot Sauce which is run by Brian Ruhlmann, creator of Craic Sauce, host of The Craft Hot Sauce Podcast and an all round great guy. After listening to his podcast and reading his blog posts, Henry reached out to him for more advice and guidance and that was the real start of Hook & Arrow becoming an actual company.
Next, we took courses in food safety, found a trademark attorney, bought domain names, found a graphic designer and on and on. It took a lot to get to the point where we were able to have a bottled product we could sell to the public. It definitely wasn’t easy but we didn’t take any shortcuts. We did our homework, figured out what we needed to do and made a product we could be truly proud of.
Prototypes of our first 3 hot sauces
We officially launched our website on April 11, 2022 after a lot of hard work and more than one false start, but we wouldn’t change this experience for anything. There is no feeling like building something you’re truly proud of and that other people get a lot of value out of. The hot sauce community is also one of the greatest communities we’ve ever been a part of. It’s easy to say this but rare to mean it and we truly do - the hot sauce community is amazing! Everyone is incredibly welcoming and supportive of each other. If one of us finds success, we all feel that success and if one of us stumbles, the rest of the community feels that too and then rallies behind them to help them recover. If you’re looking to get into this industry, don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you have some questions.
Our original lineup
Since our launch, it’s been a little bit of a rollercoaster as we’ve tried to navigate this category. We’ve had our share of ups and downs but we’re happy to say it’s mostly been positive. Here are some of our highlights from the past year. In June, we won our first award, a 3rd place for our Pineapple, Jalapeno in the Fruit Sauce category for The International Flavor Awards, 2022 Artisan Flave Award. We were then a finalist in 2 categories at the Old Boney Mountain Hot Summer Night Awards as well as being named #22 on the list of the World’s Best Sauce Companies. Then in September at the NYC Hot Sauce Expo, we won 2 Screaming Mimi Awards for our Cayenne, Garlic. We won 1st Place in the Newbie Category and 2nd Place in the Louisiana Style Category.
In October, we launched our first ever partnership! For this we developed 2 unique, family friendly sauces - Strawberry, Ghost Pepper and Blueberry, Ghost Pepper - and released them in partnership with First Descents. First Descents is a non-profit dedicated to providing life-changing adventures to young adults impacted by cancer and MS. If you know us at all, you know how personal this partnership is to us on so many levels, and we are so proud to be able to land this partnership and have the opportunity to bring attention to FD and donate proceeds from this project to them.
First Descents partnership hot sauces
Our sauces are now carried in over 25 stores and counting, stretching from CT to Arizona and even Japan. In the past year, we have attended over 30 events as vendors, giving us the opportunity to meet our customers, share our sauces with them, and learn more about what they look for when shopping for hot sauce.
Our first year has been amazing and we could not have asked for things to go better. We owe all of our success to our customers, without whom none of this would have happened, so for that, we say thank you! We have some new and exciting plans for the coming year and hope you will join us on this journey.
-Sam & Henry