Tracey Jarvis-Craig loves hot sauces. Not only does she use hot sauce on just about everything, from breakfast to dinner, and likely on late night snacks as well, she likes to use different sauces with different dishes. That interest started her on a quest to make her own hot sauces.
When friends and neighbours tasted her sauces, they asked if she could make some for them, and said they would buy her sauces if she was willing to sell. That’s when T&A’s Condiment Company came to be. Almost two years ago Tracey and her wife, Anne Craig, decided to get into the sauce and condiment business. That’s where the business got its name. In addition to the tomato-based hot sauces that they make, there are also lines of beer-based mustards and salsas available under the T&A Condiment Company brand.
Their original sauce is still a staple for them. It is called Firewalker, and Tracey describes it as a “straight up hot sauce, excellent for dipping wings.” Although it has some pretty hot peppers in it, including habaneros, Tracey describes as “not crazy hot.”
Backdraft is a sauce that appears mild and flavourful at first, “but the heat catches up with you a bit later” says Tracy about the most popular of the hot sauces. Fading Ember is a milder sauce with lots of fresh vegetable flavours such as celery, carrot, onion and garlic. Incendium is a genuinely hot sauce featuring a smoked hickory flavour, with habanero and ghost peppers providing much of the heat. It is T&A’s bestselling hot sauce.
Part of the business model that Tracey and Anne have set out to develop is a collaborative approach with the community of producers that is developing in Frontenac County and vicinity. All of their tomatoes come from Sunharvest in Glenburnie, and they have struck up a relationship with Les and Nicole at Blended Roots Farm in Battersea, who are growing several varieties of peppers, as well as onions, carrots, and a number of other vegetables for them.
As far as selling their product goes, they have been very active seeking out locations across the region, but particularly in Frontenac County.
“The way we look at it, we are all in it together, and the more we can do to support the people who sell our sauces, mustards and salsa’s, the better off we all are,” said Anne, who handles a lot of the promotion and social media for the company.
One key collaboration is with the King’s Town Beer Company from, you guessed it, Kingston, which provides all the beer for the three beer-based mustards T&A’s produces. The mustards are called Honey Hop, Amazon Ale, and Spankin Stout and recently a fourth mustard joined the others. This one is a beer free, yellow mustard, called 1904, which looks like a standard ball park mustard, but tastes “100 times better,” said Tracey.
T&A also makes two kinds of salsas: Sword Swallower - a Sriracha lime salsa, and Strongman, a mild, smokey salsa.
“We really started this business by the seat of our pants, learning on the fly and investing our own money into it. It’s a lot for us since we both work full time, but it’s a real passion for us as well,” Anne said. “We are serious about making this business a success.”
T&A’s Condiment Company hit the market in April of 2017, and has been growing ever since, adding stores, participating in marketing opportunities at music and beer festivals, at the Springer Market in Kingston, and at one-time events such as the opening of Smart’s Mercantile in North Frontenac on the July 1 weekend.
They make their sauces at a commercial church kitchen in Kingston, with which they have had a great relationship but are hoping commercial kitchen options open up in Frontenac County.
They are also getting into sponsoring kids’ sports teams, a baseball team in their hometown of Sydenham and a Kingston-based hockey team.
Tracey and Anne aren’t sure where their growing business will take them, they have been too busy keeping up with all of the momentum they have already created.