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Meet Jordan Franks

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jordan Franks.

Hi Jordan, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
We’re Jordan and Alex Franks and are the owner, operators of Taste of Jack’s in St. Louis, MO. All this started during the pandemic, right in our kitchen! Being cautious like the rest of the world, we hadn’t gone grocery shopping in a while and wanted a snack! We didn’t have anything quick to eat, so my wife Alex looked in the fridge and saw we had tomatoes, onion and cilantro. She whipped up some fresh salsa, and after tasting it, TWO WORDS, blown away! I’m not a big tomato guy, but I looked at her and said, “we should put this in a jar and sell it!”We sat on this idea for several months and the thought never left my head so that’s exactly what we did and the rest was history! We consider ourselves ‘foodies’ so we know good flavor when it hits the taste buds. I had ACTUAL visions about our future in food. I envisioned our salsa on every shelf and fridge in the world. I thought about our flavors being on tables of favored restaurants, just like ketchup! So just like that, WE GOT TO WORK! We enlisted our friends and family to taste our new creation and received GREAT feedback. We refined “The OG,” Sassy, a pico-style salsa, and felt we needed to add other flavors to offer a variety to consumers, strengthening the brand. We developed names first like Spice, a Verde salsa, and Magic, a mango salsa, then recipes to follow. Later came Unicorn, a unique mango, habanero salsa that is true to its name! We believe the names inspired the recipes, as each salsa has its own personality! Before we knew it we created an actual brand that people loved!

In just a year and a half we’ve steadily increased production and sales going from a few hundred units to nearly 1300/month including a partnership with our first large retailer, Fresh Thyme – City Foundry, which is such a incredible opportunity fitting into their model to support local business. We have our eye on continued growth which includes adding various product lines, increased distribution and availability across the region, community outreach, as well as, our own multi-use kitchen concept for retail and small plate offerings.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
NO. LOL! First, I’d like to know any business owner who had a smooth road and I’d pay BIG dollars to sit with them for 5 minutes and pick their brain! Honestly, when you’re passionate about something it’s not as challenging as you’d think, but certainly not smooth, especially in our current economic state. Considering this, we’ve embraced our challenges. From the very beginning, starting during the pandemic was our first hurdle. Imagine convincing people that your products are safe to eat while hearing about Covid-19 every 3 minutes. A lady walked up to us and said, “it has to be tough starting a food business right now”. We responded “maybe”, smiled and stayed the course. We asked her if she wanted a sample TOO! Additionally, I remember when doing samples, one customer took it outside to unmask and came back in to tell us how good it was, mask on, of course! She bought a jar after too!

We’ve dealt with minor shortages here and there, so as a new business, we’ve faced sourcing our fresh produce. Also, convincing people that we have some of the best products new to the market can be challenging, especially with an $11 price point, but once they taste it, they’re willing to pay $15! I could name many more things, but again we’ve come to understand bumps along the journey tend to be a natural part of the process, especially in uncharted terrain.

Not to mention having jobs, a marriage to maintain, and 2 young children. Sometimes my wife and I look at each other and wonder how we got through the day. In general, we’re no strangers to challenges, so we embrace them, try our best to remain focused and stick together as we navigate such a remarkable venture. And a complicated life!

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
Let’s see, my wife and I graduated from the U of M system. I, from UMSL with a B.S. in Economics, an MBA from Webster University in 2018, and she, from MIZZOU with a dual degree in Management and Latin American Studies. Yes, that means the Mrs. speaks fluent Spanish, by the way! We still work our corporate jobs, which allows us to fund our business. Alex is an executive in the making, so she brings an element of structure and system level thinking; and I’m the visionary with an ECON brain so I practically run the business in my sleep, working through just about EVERY scenario possible regarding the future of this business. Yes, it’s tough to manage at times, working all day and into the wee hours of the morning, but our goal is to build a legacy for our family, especially our girls, so we embrace the challenge. From day 1 the concept of establishing a business seemed a bit intimidating to us, but once we really ‘delve’ in we realized we had unique skills that compliment the building process. It felt so natural after that! You know the process of food is unique. Scientific really, especially when you offer it to the public. Consistency and product quality are the two main things consumers look for in addition to customer service, value, etc. Developing our recipes, we realized that if we didn’t get it right every time, we couldn’t build the customer loyalty necessary to scale our brand to the desired level, not to mention the little things, like cost and margins.

From the beginning we’ve had the cost per unit down to the ounce! We feel putting these things into practice early on, helped us become better business owners and not just someone with a good product. While we sometimes remind ourselves how much we’ve accomplished, we also tell ourselves that we’re just getting started. We’re proud that we’ve remained humbly confident throughout this process. It’s so important that we present ourselves with confidence when talking about our products because we believe in ourselves and the vision. Still, we’re always ready and willing to accept feedback from the people we meet along the way. Even more so, we’re proud to be a representative of our culture. Proud to be a light, an inspiration to others trying to figure it out. We’ve put a unique spin on a product that’s been around for years. This food originated from Hispanic culture, but it feels so remarkable to gain acceptance by all cultures simply because it tastes delicious! Overall, people love our story. We do our best not to sugarcoat life as things become challenging sometimes. You wouldn’t believe some of the stories people feel comfortable telling us while buying our products. Some of them are hard to digest, but I know they appreciate our care and concern. The little things like remembering their orders, saying ‘hello’, “have a nice weekend”, ‘have a nice week” or “How’s your son/daughter doing in college?” Even giving out random hugs! Those things truly go a long way. We’ve grown our brand and family by showing love for our community and ALL. Not to mention we have the BEST SALSA EVER!

What has been the most important lesson you’ve learned along your journey?
For most, knowing your strengths is easy. Understanding your weaknesses, now THAT’S a challenge. Once you identify what you’re NOT good at is when you start leveraging relationships and your network to bridge that gap. That’s also the making of a true leader. Also, turning an idea into reality is NOT easy, but anything is possible with hard work, resilience, tenacity, grit, and focus. Do not be afraid to take a chance and feel like you’re the best! While we’ve found success quickly, nothing comes overnight, but it’s the world we live in. Everyone wants it now. Sometimes you have to ask yourself, “what do I want?”, “why do I want it?”, “am I ready for it?” and” what am I willing to sacrifice to get it?’ Everything comes at a price. Just have to understand what you’re willing to pay or give up. Also, discipline and good communication techniques are never-ending lessons in life and business. Lots of listening is involved in this process. LOL. Mastery of those will take you so far. Patience!

Pricing:

  • Unicorn – $11
  • Spice – $11
  • Magic – $11
  • Sassy – $11
  • 2 for $20 always at our farmers market locations (follow us on IG and FB)

Contact Info:

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