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After starting at home making five gallon batches at a time, jarring it in Mason jars, and selling to family and friends, Aaron and Liz decided it was time to do the math and discern what was required to become a legal operation. This is where our story deviates from the at-home entrepreneur. Aaron already has a day job – he works full-time for a telecommunications company and therefore keeps traditional work hours. “I simply wasn’t in a position to dedicate my weekends to the farmers’ market circuit, so I did some research on co-packing.”

Cost/Benefit Do your homework. Learn more about the co-packing facilities in your area, their production minimums, and the spectrum of services they provide. In the Symans’ case, they reached out to three. One didn’t get back to them, one said their yield was too low, and the third blossomed into the mutually-benecial relationship that Swanky Sauce has with its co-packer, Onofrio’s Ultimate Foods in New Haven. (If you’re just starting out, take this lesson to heart – not everyone calls back.) Onofrio’s consulted with Aaron and Liz on their product, produced a quote to manufacture, bottle, label, and box the sauce, and the deciding factor was clear and simple: “We learned that we could have our product made at Onofrio’s, under our supervision with our recipe, by food-service professionals in a commercial kitchen for less money than we could on our own – what dictates that is volume." Because co-packers can buy pantry items in bulk, overhead expenses shrink. For Aaron, ingredients like highquality olive oil from New York, Pennsylvania honey, and his own smoked habanero peppers are the priority and are specific to Swanky Sauce. Outside of that, components such as salt, pepper, and brown sugar, which are purchased wholesale and housed in bulk at Onofrio’s, keep costs lower than making his product at home.

The Big Picture It took about two weeks to source the required ingredients, and the Symans were invited in for Swanky Sauce’s maiden voyage. “It was emotional, exciting, and totally nerve wracking. Onofrio’s team met us in lab coats, notebooks in hand. We stayed the entire day and worked with them to create our sauce from scratch, pump it from the kettle to the boiling line, and watch our little soldiers get labeled and boxed

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CT Food & Farm / Spring 2017

Profile for Connecticut Food and Farm

Connecticut Food & Farm Magazine, Spring 2017, Volume 8  

Baby animal tours at The Hickories, the making of cocktail gardens, Grandma Olie's pierogi, community farms, CT sheep and woolcraft, working...

Connecticut Food & Farm Magazine, Spring 2017, Volume 8  

Baby animal tours at The Hickories, the making of cocktail gardens, Grandma Olie's pierogi, community farms, CT sheep and woolcraft, working...

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