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Her grandfather's recipe is the 'secret sauce' to this booming small business

You know those stories about people launching businesses from an idea jotted on the back of a cocktail napkin? For former Air Force veteran Charlynda Scales, that’s pretty much how a family treasure went from recipe to business reality.

Scales started Mutt’s Sauce in 2013 with no business experience after her grandfather - also an Air Force veteran who served in Korea and Vietnam - passed away and left his secret hot sauce recipe to her, handwritten on a napkin.

The first co-packer for Mutt’s Sauce was an Amish family in Ohio. And her inaugural purchase order? A mere 700 bottles.

”We do from 700 to now 8,000 bottles per flavor [per quarter],” said Scales, in an interview with Yahoo Finance’s On The Move.

Since its humble beginnings, the company has graduated to a manufacturing facility and produces four different flavors.

Funding for the venture came from money saved during Scales time in the military.

“The decision became: do I take my savings and buy the BMW that I dreamed of having or do I put this into the business and bootstrap it?” she said. “So I bootstrapped it with my own savings of about $25,000 dollars.”

Mutt's Sauce CEO and Air Force Veteran Charlynda Scales
Mutt's Sauce CEO and Air Force Veteran Charlynda Scales

In 2018, Scales came across Aileron, a non-profit, small business and entrepreneurial training institute in Ohio that offers courses and strategies to help its clients scale their business. She said her connection to Aileron was a “game changer.”

“You’re in a room with CEOs from across the country who come to this think tank, which Aileron is, to help you learn from other entrepreneurs to think outside of the box,” she said. “They even have a Dream Room, with a white board, that you can write down everything that’s inside your head. And I know as entrepreneurs we have a thousand thoughts.”

Seven years in, Scales is finding traction in her home state supermarkets where Kroger (KR) stocks her products. She also has national distribution via Amazon (AMZN).


Yvette Killian is a producer for Yahoo Finance’s On The Move.


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