In December 2002, Eileen O’Hara made twelve jars of Habanero Pepper Jelly as a Christmas gift for husband, Rick. Encouraged by family and friends, 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 and eldest daughter, Julie Stevens, decided to get serious about their jelly and form a business. By June 2003, the mother/daughter team had formed a limited liability corporation (LLC) and named their little 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, Jalapeño 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 guest-room where the cases of jellies were stored, it was time to locate a logistics facility. When the family couldn’t take fumes from cooking the habanero peppers anymore and the painters’ masks weren’t doing the trick, they found a local co-packer to take over production. Meanwhile, 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 O’Hara, an Intellectual Property paralegal, keeps up with the trademarks. “Pepper Head” Rick, dubbed the company’s “roadie,” jumps in wherever and whenever needed to work shows and taste-test new products. The product line now includes five flavors of pepper jelly having added Cranberry Jalapeño, Pineapple Pepper, and Mango Habanero with plans in the works for more flavors. The products are available in various specialty stores around the country. Following several Costco road shows in which the team sold tens of thousands of jars, the Cranberry Jalapeño Pepper Jelly is now available in a 31-oz. jar at Costco/Clearwater, Brandon, Sarasota, Wesley Chapel, and West Tampa. Additional Costco warehouses are anticipated in 2019, and there are hints that the Pineapple Pepper will replace3 the Cranberry Jalapeño in the spring. Distribution also includes all Earthfare Markets/Florida/cheese section, all Lucky's Markets/Florida/Jelly section and approximately 70 specialty Publix stores/cheese section throughout the South East.
Through its affiliation with Tampa-based MacDonald Training Center that handles the company’s logistical needs, Brimstone Originals® Specialty Foods is helping to provide jobs to people with developmental disabilities—a way to give back to its community!
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(727) 538- 9195
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