Business

16-Year-Old Houston Entrepreneur Aspires To Be The Queen Of Sauces

Tyla-Simone Crayton sold more than 50,000 ‘Sienna Sauce’ bottles last year.

Tyla-Simone Crayton was 14 years old when she launched Sienna Sauce out of her mother’s home.

Tyla-Simone Crayton was eight years old and living in New York City when her favorite wings place closed.

"So I actually tried to recreate their sauce and I ended up coming up with my own," she said.

Fast forward seven years to the Houston suburb of Sienna, where Tyla-Simone and her mother Monique Crayton sold wings out of their home and called them "Sienna Wings."

A year later, the then-14-year-old officially launched her sauce, which so far comes in three varieties: tangy (the original), spicy and lemon pepper.

"I had friends and family come over and try it and help me perfect my recipe," Crayton said.

Today, a contractor produces and bottles Sienna Sauce. The daughter-mother team still packages them and ships them out to customers.

Aside from online, the sauces are available at more than 50 stores across Greater Houston, including in the Galleria, Pyburns Fresh Farm Foods and at more than 40 Specs branches. They’re also sold at some stores in Mississippi.

Last year, Crayton said, she sold more than 50,000 bottles.

The self-proclaimed "Sauce Boss" has been featured on local and national television programs, including the Good Morning America show "Strahan and Sara," where she won $25,000.

Rep. Pete Olson, R-Sugar Land, even recognized Crayton and her startup success in Congress.

So what's her advice to others who want to follow in her footsteps?

"Find someone who's doing what you're doing and basically follow what they're doing," she said. "There's nothing wrong with being a copycat. Don't try to reinvent the wheel, just do it better."

The biggest challenge, Crayton said, has been to get retailers to buy her products, especially in a business dominated by males, who are also much older than she is.

"It's kind of like a who you know," she said. "And that has been a struggle so far."

On one day, she called 75 different stores.

"The thing is, they're not going to let you talk directly to the buyer, so you just have to figure out how or who you need to know to talk to the buyer," she said. "And then once you get there then from there then it's about how you present yourself and how passionate you are about your brand, and if it even tastes good."

What makes Sienna Sauce different from other condiments, Crayton said, is that it works with all kinds of foods – not just wings but also barbecue, fish or vegetables. The sauce is also free of gluten and high fructose corn syrup.

Crayton said her goal is for Sienna Sauce to become a household brand like Heinz or Sweet Baby Ray's.

"At that point, we'll be in stores and customers will be getting it from their stores regularly and we won't have to ship online anymore," she said. "And this will be our family legacy."

Click on the audio above to listen to the interview with Tyla-Simone Crayton.

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Florian Martin

Florian Martin

Business Reporter

Florian Martin is currently the News 88.7 business reporter. Florian’s stories can frequently be heard on other public radio stations throughout Texas and on NPR nationwide. Some of them have earned him awards from Texas AP Broadcasters, the Houston Press Club, National Association of Real Estate Editors, and Public Radio...

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