Aspiring Food Entrepreneurs Launch Products at Flavors of Carolina


North Carolina Department of Agriculture’s Marketing Division hosts two food shows every spring, designed to bring in ‘the trade’ to see what’s new in food production in the Tar Heel State.  Many aspiring food entrepreneurs use the Flavors of Carolina show to promote their new products and Willy Yontz of Zebulon explains how he came to make his Sweet Willie Lip Smack’n Bar-b-cue sauce:

“I just got bottled in July of ’16, and I’m just trying to get a break.  I’m trying to focus on local grocery stores and country stores.  The Got to be NC festival and organization is a great stepping stone for somebody starting off.”

Now, let’s talk about your product.  You can’t throw a dart without hitting a bar-b-cue sauce, but yours is really, really unique.

“Thank you so much. It is in that I don’t use preservatives, it’s all natural. It has a perfect mix between tangy and sweet, with just a little bit of heat. So, overall it’s a good mix between eastern and western North Carolina bar-b-cue sauce.  It is vinegar based, but it has enough ketchup to where you could baste with it, but you get the strong profile of vinegar.”

And, it’s all natural.

“It is all natural.  I’m really hoping to keep it that way, I think it is a big advantage to have your product all natural with no preservatives”

Tell me how you sell it.

“I sell it basically beating the pavement.  Right now, I have to go to each location and get in by talking to the manager.  It’s a slow process, but it’s the process that you have to go through to get started with your company.”

And it’s also the process you chose to do, so that your business doesn’t run away with you.

“Right.  Defiantly, I don’t want to grow too fast.  I think slow and steady is the best way to grow a business. The Got to be NC membership definitely provides a lot of opportunities to you.”

The spring’s second and final Flavors of Carolina takes place April 11th in Concord.

A native of the Texas Panhandle, Rhonda was born and raised on a cotton farm where she saw cotton farming evolve from ditch irrigation to center pivot irrigation and harvest trailers to modules. After graduating from Texas Tech University, she got her start in radio with KGNC News Talk 710 in Amarillo, Texas.