16 minute read

Traci Bourque Johannson and Her Three Sons Strive to Make the World a Better Place!

influential-magazine.com EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW

Traci Bourque Johannson is the Co-Founder and CEO of 3SonsFoods, LLC. She’s a single mom of three teenage boys ranging in ages from 12-17, who also happen to be her business partners.

Their debut sauce, Diablo Verde, was originally sold as a fundraiser for rhino conservation which turned into a family business. In just under three years the company has won numerous awards, including Grand Champion for HEB’s Quest for Texas Best, raised over $4,700 and brought awareness to the issue effecting the rhino species. Diablo Verde is carried in over 250 stores throughout Texas, sold in stores in Colorado, Mississippi, and Alabama. They have a successful online commerce business, and are currently expanding their wholesale market throughout the United States. This summer, 3SonsFoods is excited to be launching their newest sauce, Diablo Vegan. Diablo Vegan is a dairy free, animal free, creamy cilantro sauce that will benefit wolf conservation.

Traci has been featured on ABC, KPRC, KHOU, FOX, Houston Chronicle, and Katy Times, among others. Traci and her sons are currently featured in a HEB commercial highlighting Diablo Verde and their journey to winning Grand Champion for HEB Quest for Texas Best. Starting with her careers in the performing arts and real estate industries, Traci is known for her entrepreneurial spirit, as well as her, excellent work ethic, positive spirit, drive, and passion for exceeding her goals. Traci is extremely proud to be in business with her sons and takes great pride in teaching them all about how entrepreneurship can make the world a better place by giving back.

It was awesome learning firsthand about the Johannson family of successful entrepreneurs and I’m honored to bring their riveting story to our readers of Teen InFluential.

William Jackson: Tell us about your remarkable business partners? Traci Bourque Johannson: My business partners, are the most handsome, hardworking, and smart candidates I could locate to start this fabulous business. Fortunately, since they happen to be my kids, they didn’t mind signing up for this crazy journey with me and working for no pay for a long time.

Ayden, who is 17 years old, is the serious, quiet one in our group. He heads up shipping, wolf conservation, and is the voice of reason in 3SonsFoods.

Luke, the comedian of the group, is 15 years old. He makes sure we all have fun during all the hard work it takes to build a business brick by brick. Just be careful, one of those bricks might be thrown through the game room window by Luke, a Bull in a china shop kind of guy. Luke oversees inventory and rhino conservation. George, who is 12 years old, is a budding artist; creative and intelligent.

George acts as my mini me. Product development, marketing, business development, and social media; whatever needs to be done, George will rise to the occasion. He also has a passion for marine life conservation.

William: Traci, you and your sons are creating multi awardwinning products. You make business ownership look so easy. Tell us more about how your family got started. Was there always an interest in food? Traci: Product development is NOT easy but good to know we make it look easy. There are many sleepless nights thinking of the correct amount of cilantro, heat levels of jalapenos, and fresh squeezed lime juice, but I do have a passion for food so it’s all part of why our sauce is so addictive and delicious. I personally love food and love food as medicine, and I’ve always taught the boys what effects, good and bad, food will have on their bodies. All the boys cook, and we all started this business making sauce at night in our own kitchen as a fundraiser. When we decided to become a real business, the boys and I’d go to the commercial kitchen and work all day and night to make Diablo Verde. It’s been an amazing journey full of lots of hard work.

William: What makes you most proud of your sons? Traci: Their work ethic and commitment to making a difference in the world through entrepreneurship.

William: How do you keep them engaged and excited about the business? Traci: There’s no other choice (LOL). We’ve made a commitment and our Core Value as a Family and a Business is to be a person of your word.

William: Have you noticed each has begun to develop his own business expertise? Traci: Yes. George has started a business on Goat reselling shoes, and if it wasn’t for his love of cool shoes, and sometimes keeping his inventory for himself, he would’ve made a bit more

Traci Bourque Johannson is the Co-Founder and CEO of 3SonsFoods, LLC. She’s a single mom of three teenage boys ranging in ages from 12-17, who also happen to be her business partners. Their debut sauce, Diablo Verde, was originally sold as a fundraiser for rhino conservation which turned into a family business.

influential-magazine.com EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW





profit. Ayden, who initially was more of a “glass is half empty” kind of person, has seen how visualizing your dreams is the key to having them come true. Luke has become a bit more responsible and the journey continues, praise God.

William: What’s your vision for 3SonsFoods, LLC? Traci: We’ll be bringing in more products to help other causes. Currently, we’re working on bringing to market our Diablo Vegan sauce that will benefit the St. Francis Wolf Sanctuary. Once Diablo Vegan is up and running, we plan to offer a new product that will benefit Marine Life. We’re visualizing a clean ocean.

How unique was it, as a family run business, when dealing retailers, suppliers, and other applicable entities at the start of your business? Traci: Though there are many family businesses in every industry, there aren’t many kid-owned businesses. 3SonsFoods has competed in many salsa competitions, and that is when we really excel. Most salsa companies at these competitions are owned by men, usually a group of men, and sometimes a husband and wife. Then there’s us. Suburban Mom and her three boys in tow. We used to get some sideways glances, and now that we have a few trophies in tow, we receive more respect. However, we’re NEVER invited to any after ‘get togethers’ for a cold one.

As for dealing with retailers, vendors, and our suppliers, they all love to have the kids as a part of the process. I believe everyone with whom we come into contact through business is supportive and happy to be a teacher on our journey. Behind the scenes, the boys have learned much about negotiating different personalities in business, and the simple truth that we’re not all using the same play book in life. However, we’ll stay true to being people of our word and pride ourselves on offering the best customer service always.

William: How important is the name? Traci: So important we’ve trademarked it.

William: Do things like mascots help with that? Traci: I do refer to Diablo Verde as my 4th child or Green Boyfriend. As a kid-owned business, it was important to us to have an approachable Devil. The Diablo represents the

Ayden, who is 17 years old, is the serious, quiet one in our group. He heads up shipping, wolf conservation, and is the voice of reason in 3SonsFoods.

George, who is 12 years old, is a budding artist; creative and intelligent. George acts as my mini me.

Luke, the comedian of the group, is 15 years old. He makes sure we all have fun during all the hard work it takes to build a business brick by brick.

spiciness of our sauce, even though it’s not going to make you cry. How we explain being a Christian family with a product with Devil in the name is two ways. First, we’re Christians with a sense of humor and secondly, since our goal is to save animals from extinction, we are doing God’s work.

William: Is advertising crucially important or secondary? Traci: In any business, communicating to the consumer who you are and how your product can benefit their lives, is crucial. We’re lucky, to have a raving fan base and Diablo Fans word of mouth is the best form of advertisement.

William: Your company’s Vision is “To make the world a better place through Entrepreneurship by manufacturing and selling healthy, all-natural great tasting food!” Tell us what is most important about this Vision? Traci: Our family’s preference is to eat healthy, and all natural. We believe making the world a better place is not only about saving endangered species, but by using foods in their natural state, without chemicals and additives, and this too, makes the world a better place.

influential-magazine.com EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW

William: What are the advantages of leading a familyowned business? Traci:We own 100% of our company, through being very conservative about how we spend our money we’ve built our company steadily and stayed debt free. We work hard to pay everything on time, and we know creating a good rating with Dun and Bradstreet is important to our future growth.

William: One challenge of growing a food business are the many, every changing dietary preferences of consumers. You also have unique insights into consumer behavior. What trends are you seeing? Traci: Of course, Gluten Free, Keto Friendly has recently been added to our marketing, and vegan. Since I’m also a consumer and lover of food, it’s not hard to stay updated. What is important to me and my family’s health will most likely be important to other consumers.

William: How do we get people to reflect on nutrition where money is also involved; what ís the balance? Traci: Currently, in our society we’re seeing good nutrition is a luxury. Processed food with added flavorings and food chemicals is easier and cheaper to produce. We believe the more the consumer is educated about the effects of the food they are intaking, the better choices they’ll make, hopefully resulting in better health. For us, I’d rather spend money on buying blueberries that lower your risk of cancer and heart disease then buying highly processed food and medicine to combat the effects of an unhealthy diet.

William: Name a food trend you believe hasn’t peaked yet and might be the next big thing. Traci: Clearly, cooking more at home has been true since March and in our current COVID-19 lives it’ll most likely continue. Hopefully, more people will look at food as preventative medicine.

William: Where else is there room for improvement in the industry as a whole right now? Traci: Honestly, there are many things that can be improved. From removing the ability for food companies to include chemicals and additives into our food, to making it mandatory all animals sold for consumption shall be raised cage free and free

range. Our health is causally related to what we’re putting into our bodies. Every time a consumer decides to buy preservative free, all natural, cage free, range free, no added additives, they’re letting the industry know what they want and demand for a better life.

William: As a business leader, what advice would you give to local business leaders? Traci: Visualizing is the key to making your dreams a reality.

William: Do you have any non-negotiables for when it comes to family time for allowing you all to slow down and not get caught up in the daily frenzy? Traci: Dinner is spent together most evenings. As a busy working single Mom, I make it a point to stop somewhere throughout my day, make eye contact with each boy, and listen to what they’re saying. It’s not unusual for me to make an appointment on my calendar to spend one of one time with them. I’m a bit of a workaholic, so running a business with my boys demands

we spend time together, and with these crazy kids, it often turns into fun. The other day, I stopped work, told all my deadlines to give me an hour, “I promised the boys we’d paint the floor” See, we were getting rid of our 16 year-old carpet that weekend, so we spray painted it as a way to say goodbye to the old carpet.

William: Have there been any consequences for 3SonsFoods, LLC because of the shutdown of the U.S. government? Traci: When people go through stressful times, reaching out to a comfort food can help. Diablo Verde makes a great enchilada sauce, or sauce for pasta, on top of chicken it’s versatile and comforting. So, we saw a surge in orders during the initial shutdown.

William: What is your morning ritual? Nighttime ritual? Traci: Morning sets the tone for our entire day. For me, my morning routine creates a positive momentum, and helps me combat the craziness I call my life. Coffee, yoga, and active meditation which I achieve through long distance running inspires my creativity,

influential-magazine.com EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW

problem solving, and obtaining focus. Since this is the only alone time, I’m able to steal sometimes, it helps me deal with the stress of the constant interruption that living and working with three teenage boys can create. Nighttime is a bit of television, yoga, bed, and reading; however, if I can’t sleep, you’ll find me with a laptop just trying to get a few more things completed. I’ve been woken up several times by George folding up my computer, so clearly there’s room for improvement in my nighttime routine.

William: Who would you invite to your dream dinner party? Traci: Ellen, Oprah, the boys, my best friends, and our team.

William: What does community mean to you and how has it supported you, your family, and your business? Traci: We wouldn’t be where we are today without the support of our friends, neighbors, and Diablo Fans. We feel so blessed to have had the support of so many and thank God every day for every person we’ve met along the way. William: Traci, how do you impress upon your young sons the value of education and the importance of being positive, contributing members of the community? Traci: The value of education is important to me as a mother. I didn’t complete my college education; however, I’ve continued to educate myself. In today’s world, with the internet at our fingers, education is easily achieved and important in everything we do. College is in my son’s future, but they also know it’s not mandatory. Continuous education, on the other hand, is mandatory throughout life.

“Integrity is doing the right things when no one is watching”, is a quote from C.S. Lewis and a lesson I learned from my friends which I’ve instilled in my sons. Helping others and contributing to our community and our global community is ingrained in who we are. There are no other options. Learn more about 3SonsFoods, LLC at ww.3sonsfoods.com. l

Easy Diablo Enchiladas

Ingredients • 1 1⁄2 lb cooked chicken, or shrimp • 9 corn or wheat tortillas • 1lb shredded Monterey jack cheese • 1 Jar Diablo Verde Creamy Cilantro Sauce • 1 tablespoon of oil • 10x8 pan Steps • Preheat oven to 350 degrees • Lightly oil pan • Layer the following in pan: o tortillas, o chicken, o 4 oz. Diablo Verde Creamy Cilantro Sauce o cheese • Repeat layers • Top with tortillas and the remaining Salsa Diablo Verde, • Cover with foil and cook for 25 min at 350 degrees • Uncover, add Monterey jack cheese and cook at 350 for an additional 5 minutes

Diablo Bacon Brussels Sprouts

Ingredients • 12 oz of Brussels Sprouts cut in half • 1 tablespoon olive oil • 2 teaspoons butter • 2 garlic cloves • 1/4 cup chopped onion • 1/4 cup of chopped bacon • 1/4 cup chia seeds (optional) • 1/2 a jar of Diablo Verde Steps • Sauté onion and garlic in olive oil over medium high heat • Add Brussels Sprouts lower heat to medium until Brussels Sprouts soften • Add bacon • Stir in Diablo Verde while on low heat

Diablo Salmon

Ingredients • 2 lb filet of salmon seasoned with salt and pepper • Olive oil • 1⁄2 jar of Diablo Verde Creamy Cilantro Sauce Steps • Oil baking dish, and place salmon, cover with foil • Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes • Take out of the oven, pour Salsa Diablo Verde on top, put back into the oven

uncovered for 5 minutes

Diablo Shrimp Sauté

Ingredients • 32oz peeled wild caught shrimp (marinated w/ salt, pepper & • garlic powder) • 1 green bell pepper (5 oz) • 1 red bell pepper (5 oz) • 1 squash (12 oz) • 1 zucchini (12 oz) • 4 gloves of garlic • 1 1/3 cup Diablo Verde Creamy Cilantro Sauce Steps • Sauté shrimp until fully cooked, drain any excess liquid

• Add vegetables and continue sautéing for 1-3 minutes • Add Diablo Verde Creamy Cilantro Sauce and mix, coating all shrimp and vegetables with sauce • Serve with a little fresh cilantro on top and enjoy a healthy meal (can be served over rice, quinoa, pasta or potatoes) Ingredients • 1 Medium Purple Cabbage (sliced in strips) • 3 Medium Carrots (Shredded) • Chopped Celery (to taste, 3-5 stalks) • 4 oz. Diablo Verde Creamy Cilantro Sauce • 4 oz. Balsamic Vinegar • Salt and Pepper to taste • Chopped Radishes (optional) • Black Beans (optional • Corn Kernels (optional) Steps • Mix together 4 ounces of your favorite Diable Verde Creamy Cilantro Sauce with 4 ounces of balsamic vinegar • Toss all vegetables into a bowl and toss with Diablo Verde and vinegar mix. • Enjoy! May be served over

Diablo Verde Coleslaw

a half an avocado

Fish Tacos with Diablo Slaw

For the Tacos: • 1 1⁄2 lbs. wild caught cod fillets • 3 tablespoons olive oil • Juice of 1 lime • 2 teaspoons chili powder • 1 teaspoon paprika • 1⁄2 teaspoon ground cumin • 1⁄2 tablespoon vegetable oil • Salt and pepper to taste • 8 corn tortillas (grilled) • 1 avocado diced • Diablo Verde Creamy Cilantro Sauce For the Slaw: • 1⁄4 cup Salsa Diablo Verde • 1⁄4 balsamic vinegar • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

influential-magazine.com RECIPES USING DIABLO VERDE

• 2 cups shredded purple cabbage • 1 cup shredded carrots • 3 radishes chopped thinly • 1 cup corn kernels Steps • Whisk together olive oil, lime juice and spices in a bowl. • Add cod, tossing until evenly coated. Let marinate 15 min. Meanwhile, make slaw--In a large bowl, whisk together Diablo Verde and balsamic vinegar. Stir in cabbage, corn, cilantro, radishes, carrots. Season with salt and pepper. • Remove cod from marinade and season fillets with salt and pepper. In a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, heat vegetable oil, add cod. Cook until opaque and cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Let rest 5 minutes then flake with a fork. • Assemble tacos: place fish, slaw and avocado on tortillas. Squeeze lime juice on top and garnish with Diablo Verde. • Serve with additional lime wedges and enjoy!