“I love chili peppers,” said Nikki Guerrero, owner of Hot Mama Salsa when asked why she started her company. “Growing up in the southwest, fresh salsa is a part of the culture. When you are a transplant, you miss that, so I wanted to bring those flavors to Portland.”
That was eight years ago when there were very few fresh salsas on grocery shelves. Those that were available were from big corporations and according to Nikki, tasted like canned tomatoes.
Now, thanks to a $35,000 business loan, Nikki is ready to expand Hot Mama Salsa’s product offerings. By adding shelf-stable hot sauces and chili oils, products can be distributed beyond the Portland area.
“I’m excited about the future of Hot Mama Salsa,” said business owner Nikki Guerrero. “ This loan will help us scale up production to expand our reach. My dream is to one day have my family in Arizona be able to find my products their grocery store shelves.
Nikki started mixing up her true southwest flavors in a small kitchen behind Cherry Sprout Produce Market, a grocery store owned by friends. That store was her first retail outlet. She now sells at farmers markets, and Hot Mama Salsa can be found in local grocery stores and is served at local restaurants. As production grew, Hot Mama Salsa moved to shared commercial kitchen space.
With this loan, Hot Mama Salsa will move into a larger, more efficient commercial kitchen, purchase new kitchen equipment and broaden their product offerings. The plan is to hire an additional employee this spring to help both with production and marketing. Current employees include a kitchen manager and four part-time employees who sell the fresh salsa at farmer’s markets.