The Brimstone Originals® Specialty Foods Story
In December 2002, stressed from completing a Master’s degree at USF and unwilling to face the frenzied holiday shopping crowd, Eileen O’Hara made her husband, Rick, twelve jars of habanero pepper jelly as a Christmas gift. Encouraged by friends and family, Eileen, Rick, daughters, and sons-in-law took their "hot" pepper jelly to craft fairs and pepper shows, where it sold like hotcakes!
Seeing an opportunity, Eileen suggested to eldest daughter, Julie Stevens, that they get serious about their jelly and form a business. Julie was dubious to say the least: "You want to sell what?!" Despite Julie’s kicking and screaming, by June 2003, the mother/daughter team had formed a limited liability corporation (LLC) and named their little pepper jelly business "Brimstone Originals®."
With Julie’s 3-year-old son, Dylan, in tow, the first year was a whirlwind of cooking frenzies at a commercial kitchen that the family leased. During that time, a second flavor, Jalapeno Pepper jelly, was developed. Inventory was stored in Eileen’s home until a call came one day for a large order to be shipped to Germany. Since a forklift wouldn’t fit into Eileen’s guestroom where the cases of jellies were stored, it was time to locate a fulfillment/distribution warehouse. When the fumes from cooking the habanero peppers became more than the family could take and the painters’ masks just weren’t doing the trick, they found a local co-packer to take over the production. In the meantime, a website was developed from which customers can order products. And instead of craft fairs, the Brimstone Originals® team exhibits at specialty food, gourmet, and gift trade shows. In the midst of all that, Eileen did six shows on HSN, Julie had another baby boy, Tyler, and the team developed more jelly flavors.
Brimstone Originals® Specialty Foods is now a women-owned business with Eileen as President and Julie as Vice President. Younger daughter and sister, Amy, an Intellectual Property paralegal, keeps up with the trademarks. "Pepper Head" Rick jumps in wherever and whenever needed to work shows and taste-test new products. The product line now includes four flavors of pepper jelly having added Cranberry Jalapeno and Pineapple Pepper, with plans in the works for more flavors. The products can be found in several specialty stores throughout Florida and in Wisconsin, Illinois, and Connecticut. Following a few dozen Costco road shows in which the team sold tens of thousands of jars of product, the Jalapeno Pepper Jelly is now available in a 31-oz. jar at Costco/Clearwater. Availability of this product in more Costco warehouses is anticipated in the near future. The owners also anticipate availability of all flavors in other major grocery chains. Best of all, through its affiliation with PARC, a St. Petersburg, Florida-based non-profit agency that provides the company’s warehouse and fulfillment needs, the company is helping to provide jobs to people with developmental disabilities—a way for Brimstone Originals® to give back to its community.
The company’s mission statement is simple. Brimstone Originals® Specialty Foods is fully committed to bringing only the best products to its customers with a satisfaction guarantee. With Eileen, Julie, and family at the helm, you can rest assured they mean business!