Our interview with Eve Krammer co-owner of Teresa’s Salsa
Can you give us the story behind Teresa’s Salsa?
The story behind Teresa’s Salsa goes back more than 20 years to 1994 when Mark Hoffman started one of Santa Cruz’s first fresh salsas to be available in stores Mark and his partner got such great feedback on their salsa recipe that they decided to package it and sell it at the local New Leaf stores. Because they had such a loyal local following, they were able to keep the business going for almost 20 years until Mark’s health began to fail. 3 1/2 years ago Mark came to Catherine (Catherine Wenzler) with the offer to take the business over and after her and I had been tossing around the idea of starting up a small business of our own, it just seemed like the right thing to do. We both agreed that taking over an existing business would be a whole lot easier than starting one of our own.
After we scraped together all of the cash we could come up with, Teresa’s Gourmet Foods became our baby. Sadly, 3 weeks later, the day before Thanksgiving, Mark passed away. Both Catherine and I saw this tragedy as a way to make Mark proud that his business could be continued on long after he was gone. We still feel his presence when we think back to those early days when we didn’t have a clue about how to run a small business. With a little bit of branding and a really fun, colorful label, and a few minor tweaks to the existing recipe, the new version of Teresa’s Salsa emerged.
What makes your salsa so special?
What makes our salsa so special is definitely the freshness factor! Most people think that just because you are buying salsa in the refrigerated section means that it has fresh ingredients which is not necessarily the case. Most salsas are made with canned or cooked tomatoes, but not ours. We know that our product stands alone flavor wise because we Only use red, ripe, roma tomatoes. Our tag line is “totally fresh” so we go to great lengths to use fresh ingredients in all of our products. You will never see citric acid or any unknown flavoring agents in our salsas and sauces, and there are never more than 7 ingredients involved which means you are always getting a healthy, small batch product made with lots of love. Another special thing about Teresa’s is that in the last year we launched our new shelf stable salsas and simmer sauces. We wanted to create salsas and enchilada sauces that don’t have a bunch of preservatives and ingredients that you can’t pronounce. We are really excited to have one of the only local enchilada sauces on the market that comes in a glass jar. It is really important for our customers to be able to pick up a fresh and tasty product that you can keep in your pantry to make a delicious meal without plastic or metal packaging. We take customer feedback to heart and try to create the products that we know our community wants to see in their local stores.
What are the future plans for Teresa’s Salsa?
Future plans for Teresa’s Salsa, hmm…… That’s a tough question for us because we really like to be in control of our business. Catherine and I are very attached to and think of Teresa’s as our baby. We even refer to Teresa’s as “her”. She’s really become her own entity and our hearts swell with pride as we watch her grow and expand.
In the not so distant future we would love to relinquish some of the heavy lifting and grunt work. Currently us gals do it all by ourselves so having a few employees to take the brunt of the work literally off of our shoulders, would be nice. We are also working on gaining distribution to expand further into the Bay Area, Monterey, and San Jose. We are also really excited to do more Makers Markets and trade shows because we find that it puts us in direct contact with our customers. Being active in the community also helps us to gain potential new customers and connections. Every time we do a community event, we are blown away by the amount of support and enthusiasm that people have for what we are doing. The future for Teresa’s Salsa definitely looks bright!
Have you always thought of yourselves as entrepreneurs?
Have we always thought of ourselves as entrepreneurs? I can answer for the both of us by saying YES, Most definitely! Before we took this business over we both shared the passion of wanting to start a local food business. Early on I knew that she would be the perfect compliment to me because of our different dynamic skill sets and the fact that we know how to jump back and forth between each other’s. Catherine is the production master! She thrives in the kitchen, both the home kitchen and the commercial one. I love watching her come up with new recipes and I love eating her insanely delicious meals when we have family dinners and potlucks. I’ll never get tired of being by her side in the kitchen. My specialty is with people. I’m the networking guru. I handle the new accounts and the introducing of the new products to stores and such. I have a strange way of making best friends with everyone I meet which makes it hard to say no to me. Plus, I don’t take no for an answer .We also both share the value of an extremely strong work ethic which makes for a strong bond of entrepreneurship. Together Catherine and I quite the dynamic duo, I look forward to see what we come up with next! Never a dull moment, that’s for sure.
Has living in Santa Cruz had an effect on your business?
Has living in Santa Cruz had an effect on our business? Living in Santa Cruz has most definitely had an extremely positive effect on our business. We feel deep gratitude on a daily basis that we live in a town that is conducive and supportive to this food movement that we are part of. How lucky are we to live within a community of people who value food and where it comes from?! We constantly hear friends and fans telling their friends and family to buy Teresa’s Salsa! Word of mouth is the best advertising for a small business and we are so thankful for our community network of loyal salsa fans. Plus, it doesn’t hurt to have so many friends in the industry! From grocery stores to farmer’s markets, we can always find a friendly face that is willing to support the salsa cause. On any given day it’s not uncommon to hear someone screaming “Hey salsa sisters”!! Across an intersection or parking lot….. That’s why I love this town.
For more info go to the Teresa’s Salsa website
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