Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Gemini Crow Interview NYC Hot Sauce Expo 2015 Vendor

Dov Teta of Gemini Crow Sauce Company

INTERVIEW  BY ALLEN FRY (www.twofrys.com)
Foodie and Hot Sauce Blog NYC/BRONX
Gemini Crow Sauce Co.
Dov, what is the inspiration to make hot sauce and spicy foods your business?
I've always been a spice-head and as far back as I can remember, I have had a shelf in my fridge dedicated to various hot sauces I would pick up when out and about. In 2013, I began the process of closing down my record label which I had been running for the previous 10 years, and with the help advice, and encouragement from a good friend of mine, Gemini Crow was born and things kind of fell into shape pretty quickly. My record label was a major passion of mine, but with the demise of the music industry, it simply was not fun anymore. While I always kept my goals modest, by the end, my goal was simply to break even with each release, and that is not a encouraging way to run a business. It was a great run, but it had run its course and the next adventure was calling.

What is the road that led you to open Gemini Crow Dov?
The start of Gemini Crow actually coincided with the close of my label, Play The Assassin (playtheassassin.com). No longer was music able to sell just by itself. It got to the point where I was trying to come up with added value material to include with each release to ensure people would want to buy our physical releases and not simply steal and download them from the internet. I did t-shirts, shot glasses, and it worked to a degree, but I continued to look for new and unique items. A good friend of mine, Steve Seabury (High River Sauces) had started his hot sauce company several years earlier and was beginning to gain major traction and build a name for himself. We had been friends for nearly 20 years and got our first jobs at a NYC record label in the mid 90's. We were chatting one day, and he mentioned the idea of doing a promotional sauce for one of my last releases. That day I had an awakening! With my background in business and marketing and a series of long educational chats with Steve on starting in the hot sauce, world, we were born. Originally, I had called myself 'The Hot Sauce Company', and it was simply going to be an off-shoot of the label. I spent the next 12 months developing recipes (with help from many) as if I was going to launch properly, I wanted several sauces in my arsenal to present to the public. First impressions are everything! As I started putting out feelers and 'getting my ducks in a row', I felt that I was going to be able to put out a unique and quality product, and felt that the name 'Hot Sauce Company' was kitche, but too generic and would not be beneficial to anyone searching for my on the internet. The name 'Gemini Crow' has no special meaning. It is just two words that have swam in my mind for a while, sounded good together, and could allow for interesting marketing opportunities. My official debut came at the 2nd NYC Hot Sauce Expo in 2014 and it has been a world-wind experience ever since. I'm absolutely in love with what I'm doing, all the new friends I have made, and I get absolute chills when I get compliments from people who enjoy our product.

What is the secret of your success selling hot sauces?
Bottom line, a quality product is what is going to make or break you. All the clever marketing in the world may get you some attention, but it is the sauce which will keep you in business. But before people can taste your product, you have to get them to want to try your product. I pride myself on the marketing and look of the labels, the website, and any marketing materials I put out there. One of my promotional postcards won a SCOVIE Award in 2014. I was blown away and that was just as amazing as the Chile Pepper Magazine Award I won for my Blackberry Belle sauce. I am constantly trying to balance the look of my stuff and marketing to appeal to a niche audience as well as the masses.

What is the most satisfying thing about what you do, bringing the heat to the people?
I keep my goals modest and am just trying to let everything happen at an organic pace. I have tons of ideas for new recipes, marketing campaigns, and promotions, but being a one man operation, my wife is constantly reeling me in. I want to do it all, but not at expense of hurting my growth. I still get a thrill when people sample my product and show genuine pleasure from it. Of course, when they choose to hand me money in exchange, it is even more humbling and only makes me want to work harder. It's an indescribable rush.

What is the number of hot sauces/products Gemini Crow has available and some of your hottest selling names?
At the moment, I have 5 sauces and spicy ketchup. In April 2015, I will be releasing my new reaper sauce (Jack the Reaper) and a hot pepper infused salt, which I am calling PST*90. I am not at liberty to explain the meaning of that name, but the taste testing I have been doing makes me very excited for it's potential!

What is your favorite type of fruit and/or vegetables?
Outside of beets, I pretty much like all fruits and vegetables. I am a foodie!

What is your favorite type of hot sauce, extreme or mild?
In the last year, I have had the luxury to try so many new sauces and one of the best things about all the hot sauce events that I do, is getting to purchase or trade so many new sauces that look interesting. Definitely, a perk of the industry. My all time favorite sauce is 'Tears of the Sun' from High River Sauces. I also love 6of8 (Pineapple Habanero) from Big Fats, 'XXXX' from Squid Vomit (who unfortunately is no longer around), and my absolute obsession at the moment is a Strawberry Scorpion sauce from a local NJ hot sauce peer of mine, Jersey Barnfire Sauces. This sauce hasn't been officially put out yet, but I am lucky to have picked up several bottles.

What is your favorite type of BBQ sauce, spicy or sweet?
I enjoy BBQ Sauce but am not very snobbish when it comes to choices. I prefer Spicy over sweet, and I usually have a bottle of Stubb's in my fridge at all times, or whenever I want something a little more boutique, Red Law Sauces out of Colorado have a few very tasty flavors!

What are some of your other favorite small batch hot sauce companies?
I guess anyone not named Tabasco, Cholula, or El Yucateco can be considered small batch. While I enjoy the sauces, the people who work at the following companies have gone above and beyond in welcoming me into their hot sauce world with endless advice and encouragement. High River Sauces; Heartbreaking Dawns; DEFCON Sauce; Lucky Dog; Texas Creek; Red Law Sauce; CaJohn's. So many people have been so great and everyone gets a high five and humble thanks from me.

Gemini Crow how many events do you attend each year?
In 2014, I rotated between 5 different farmers markets. When not doing markets, I did the NYC Hot Sauce Expo, Bowers, and Kempton's Pepper Jam. I also have been exploring and attending non-food related events, which I have been very successful at. I find that as long as there is good attendance at an event, I stand a good chance of being successful. I don't need to be limited to food related type conventions.

Gemini Crow table snap we took last year in NYC.
What is the hottest hot sauce you have ever tried?
Back in the 90's, on the Baltimore Pier I tried a sample of an extract sauce (whose name escapes me). They made you sign a waiver and had you try it on a top of a toothpick. Not fun!  I like some heat, but I'm a flavor guy. I joke with my customers, that it is not a good business model if people are afraid to use your sauce. I want my sauces used at every meal and having the people come back for more. Not sit on a shelf where they brag to their friends how hot it is, but never open or use it a second time.

Do you believe that hot sauce is good for you and others health?
Peppers, Vinegar, Sodium is good for you in small amounts; fruit (which I like to use an ingredient of my sauces)....Hot Sauce is the healthiest thing you can put in your body! It should used like a multi vitamin every day.

Dov, what are your plans for Gemini Crow in the future?
Slow, steady and organic growth. I'm 20 months into this adventure. I am starting to slowly approach local retail outlets about carrying my sauce, but my focus for 2015 is live events and as many of them as I can attend. Stores will take your product in, but if people never heard or tasted them, they will sit on the shelf and collect dust for the most part. I also want to slowly explore new recipes and put out a broader selection of spicy products, including a mustard, BBQ sauce, and more flavored hot salts.

How many times have you been a Vendor at The NYC Hot Sauce Expo?
2014 was my first time at the NYC fest and I am very excited to be taking part again this year in Brooklyn! I love observing other companies presentations and set-ups, and of course trying out, purchasing, and trading sauces with everyone!

Dov Teta posing for us at the 2014 NYC Expo
How do you like the amount of fans and vendors that this great event brings together in one place?
The 2014 NYC Hot Sauce Expo would give Mardi Gras and Spring Break in Daytona a big run for their money. It was one big spicy party!

How can our Two Frys readers order your sauces and products?
Gemini Crow has a fully functional website/store at geminicrow.com. We keep a very frequently updated list of what events we will be vending at, and always encourage people to reach out to us with different conventions in which we can set up. We encourage people to join our mailing list as you never know when a contest for a free sauce may pop up. Gemini Crow tries to engage with our friends and new customers through out Facebook Page and our Instagram Page.

Any closing comments for our readers about your products and what they should try?
Just a simple thank you to everyone, who has played a part in our first year of growth. I am humbled every day and love what I do and hope to be doing it for along time coming

Thanks Allen, Dov Teta Gemini Crow

Thanks to Dov for the Informative insight into Gemini Crow, Allen at Two Frys

Visit the Gemini Crow Website: www.geminicrow.com

Visit Gemini Crow on Facebook: www.facebook.com/geminicrow

Visit Gemini Crow on Instagram: www.instagram.com/geminicrowsaucecompany

Visit the New York City Hot Sauce Expo: www.nychotsauceexpo.com

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