Fri, Dec 14, 2012
Spicy ‘n Sweet co-founder Jorge Moret calls the company “a bit of a Modern Family business” and it does sound like the premise of a sitcom: a graphic designer, a furniture designer, and an Italian mother join forces to bring quality tomato sauce to New York City.
“I grew up knowing this is the way sauce should taste,” said Michael Marino, a co-founder. “When Jorge and I met four and a half years ago, I would bring him to Sunday dinners and he fell in love with my family’s cooking.” Jorge Moret, a former graphic designer who worked at marketing agencies including GlobalWorks Group and Footsteps, joined forces with Marino in 2011 to bottle and sell the trademark tomato sauces made by “Nonna Carolina,” Marino’s mother.
Moret and Marino enjoy an easy partnership, completing one another’s sentences and filling in the gaps as they tell Spicy ‘n Sweet’s history. When the economy plummeted in 2008, the two decided it was the moment to strike out for themselves.
“Having our own company was always in the back of our minds, but it just sparked one day when Nonna was cooking professionally,” said Moret. “We said, You know what? This sauce could be out there. We could be sharing this delicious flavor with everybody.”
The team kept costs low by relying entirely on social media for marketing and doing all of the designs for labels, packaging and photography themselves. Nonna Carolina does much of the publicity. “She’s very charismatic,” said Marino. “People love her. She was even on the Food Network a few times.”
Spicy n’ Sweet began selling at local markets and specialty food stores. The company’s first big success came in June 2012, when they landed a deal to be in all of Dean & Deluca’s North American stores.
But is this business profitable?
“Well, define profit,” said Marino, laughing, before adding, “Yes, something’s happening for sure.”
Moret jumped in, quick to clarify, “Yes, we’re making a profit. We do everything by hand, that’s one other way of keeping costs down.” The company is now focused on bringing in new customers with tastings and an additional line of holiday products.