Vespa’s 7 Spice Mix: Blending a Recipe into a Business
Many people have dreamed of starting their own business. One common example is food companies that begin in a home kitchen. Then comes scaling it and getting a product to retail. Inspiration to start a business arrives in many ways, like finding a spice recipe in your grandmother’s old cookbook. With Covid-19 locking down almost everyone and everything, Alise Ralston used that time at home to begin her journey to launch Vespa’s 7 Spice Mix in August 2020.
As founder and sole operator of her business, Alise wanted to fill her time and a void in taste palates everywhere by offering a unique and versatile spice blend that can enhance the flavor of various dishes. What makes Vespa’s stand out from rubs and other seasonings is that it’s a low to no salt powder that melts into the foods and broths it’s added to.
How the business got its name is another story. As huge fans of Spaceballs, a 1987 sci-fi parody of space movies, Alise and her husband Ben borrowed the Vespa name from one of the movie’s main characters, Princess Vespa. They also adopted Spaceballs’ mantra, “May the schwartz be with you”, which is inspired by “the Force” from Star Wars. This phrase helped them when bootstrapping alone wasn’t enough to get the business off the ground.
With no prior business experience or knowledge of the CPG industry, Alise pushed forward in this new venture with strong encouragement from her neighbors, friends, and family. She experimented with different ingredients and came up with seven varieties of spice mix, each with its own distinct taste and aroma. Known for its versatility, the spice mix can be used on chicken, pork, turkey, root vegetables, salads, and more. Alise’s favorites include Vespa’s Original Spice on sweet potatoes and adding Vespa’s Hot to soups and broths – especially for fighting colds. Each blend is magically mixed to make just about any food dance and sing.
Alise currently runs the business by herself, without any partners or mentors – but with the love and support of Ben, who is known as Spaceballs’ Lonestar character among his veteran’s motorcycle group. She joined DFW CPG, to learn from other vendors and network with potential customers. Alise said that the most difficult part of starting the business was knowing how to follow the cottage laws and regulations for home-based food businesses in Texas. The second biggest challenge she faced was getting people to try and sample her product. The next big business decision will be how best to scale up, which balances customization with co-manufacturing.