Business Heats Up for Too Hot Mamas

HUBBARD, Ohio — Two years ago, Audra Horton and Christina Frohman were canning peppers for their families. Last September, they put their product, branded as Too Hot Mamas, on the market. By January, their peppers were in grocery stores. In March, they opened their first storefront.

And now, they’re in talks with Whole Foods and Jungle Jim’s International Market in Fairfield, Ohio.

“Then, down the road, we’d like to maybe franchise out the Too Hot Mamas stores,” Horton says.

The learning curve has been steep, to be sure, especially for two women still working full-time jobs and no experience running a business. So far this year, the two – along with their two employees – have sold more than 4,000 jars of hot peppers, available in four regular and two seasonal flavors.

“We make mistakes every day, but we learn from them,” Horton says. “A lot of people will encourage you, but there are still people who want to keep you down. You learn to be strong and that makes your business better.”

One of the biggest leaps for the company came in getting the peppers into stores. The first, Horton says, was the hardest and today Too Hot Mamas can be found in nearly 20 stores throughout the Mahoning Valley and western Pennsylvania.

“It gets easier after that first one,” she says. “Once you get into chains, owners have four or five stores. And if you’re in one store, you can get into their other ones.”

The next step for Frohman and Horton is producing larger quantities. The quartet makes the peppers in one-gallon batches, just as the founders did when making them was a hobby. With a $5,000 prize from the Youngstown Business Incubator’s Women in Entrepreneurship program, they’re a step closer to getting a steam kettle that would allow them to make up to 40 gallons at once.

“I will be able to make a week’s worth of product in about six hours. Times that by five and I am stockpiling,” Frohman says. “The warehouse will be full and ready to go for stores.”

Pictured: Audra Horton is the co-owner of  Too Hot Mamas.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.