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Josette Adams' recipe becomes instant hit after gathering of family members
When Josette Adams made her first batch of barbecue sauce she had no idea that it would lead to a successful business venture.
Adams, a 41-year-old native of Philadelphia, is the president and CEO of Sequoya & Jaylin's Gourmet Foods - a business that specializes in barbecue sauce.
After the sauce became an instant hit at a 2003 family get together, Adams became inspired to try and turn it into a stream of much-needed revenue. At the time, she was relying on child support benefits and was unable to work because she was caring for her son Jaylin, who had cerebral palsy. She started off by selling the product to her friends and her son's doctors.
Her sauce began to grow in popularity and was eventually entered into Kansas City Barbecue Sauce competition. The competition led to her becoming known as The Queen of Barbecue Sauce." To date, Adams can be spotted wearing a crown as a reminder of that honor.
The sauce business began to take off but everything came to a halt when Adams' 34-month-old son became ill and died in 2005.
"I lost it after that I didn't want to do anything else when it pertained to creating the sauce," Adams said. "I was devastated." She lost her interest focusing on the business because it reminded her of all the times that Jaylin would sit in her kitchen and watch her blend the sauce and pack it into jars."He wouldn't go to sleep until I put that last lid on the jar," she said.
For the next six to eight months, Adams ceased making massive amounts of the sauce and would only do small batches for family members. She realized that she needed to continue on to support her daughter Sequoya.
Adams rallied back and became serious about pushing her product. Her years of selling the sauce online, networking at social events, giving out samples at flea markets and consistently marketing the sauce finally paid off.
In September, she met her goal of selling Sequoya & Jaylin's Barbecue Sauce in area supermarkets. The product is now carried in the meat departments of the ShopRite supermarkets lat 56th and Jefferson streets and Cheltenham Square. The sauce is poised for placement in three other ShopRites including the 67th and Haverford Avenue, Island Avenue and 24th and Oregon Avenue locations.
"I've created a way of having our product stand out from the rest," Adams said.
While they are a vast array of barbecue sauces in the marketplace, Adams believes that hers is a strong competitor with its signature blend of sweet and spicy flavors.
When she debuted the product during Labor Day weekend at the 56th and Jefferson location, Adams was amazed by the strong response. Adams says many customers are impressed when they see her and Sequoya pushing their product at the stores.
"I'm just overwhelmed with how people are reacting to the sauce," she said. "They like it because they can use it on everything."
After facing the challenge of caring for a child with special needs, Adams was spurred to help others who are facing the same ordeal. She launched the Jaylin B. McGirt Fund with the aim of using proceeds from the sauce to assist families with special needs children. Adams spends a significant amount of her time providing services to families who are in need of assistance.
With an eye toward the future, Adams wants to take her product beyond Philadelphia. First she wants to penetrate the Philadelphia market and then spread out to New Jersey and Delaware.
"I see it actually going nationwide," she said, noting that she would like the sauce to become a staple in everyone's home.
Adams has worked hard to ensure that her business is successful but to her, it's a labor of love.
"I couldn't ask for nothing more than what I'm doing right now," she said. "I'm enjoying this.
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