Bitchin’ 101: Starr Edwards spills the saucy secrets behind a Bitchin’ Enterprise
Jun 2, 2023
Our Bitchin’ leader, co-founder & CEO Starr Edwards isn’t one to boast. But when pressed, Starr will spill the sauce about the qualities which make our Bitchin’ operation extra special.
So, what does Starr think contributes to the elusive “Bitchin’ Way”?
This month, Starr was hosted by Joon Founder & CEO Jon Shooshani on his podcast Wellbuilt, a spotlight on business leaders intersecting work and wellness. Here’s 3 big things Starr made clear about the secrets behind saucy success:
1. The most Bitchin’ place for market research? Your stomach!
Starr whipped up the first batch of Bitchin’ Sauce at 16, and the biggest drive to start slinging sauce, it turns out, was her own teenage vegan appetite:
“I was a raw vegan who wanted a creamy concoction- that was what I missed from dairy. Bitchin Sauce is what came out. I just used all the ingredients I had in the pantry, and made it the way I wanted it.”
After the Original recipe’s signature balance of lemon & garlic goodness came together, the second flavor took inspiration from a specific Starr craving:
“Another thing I missed when I was vegan was bacon. Once I found out about chipotle, I found that if you smoke a pepper, it’s like a bacon flavor” Starr revealed. “That’s my favorite flavor, the Chipotle.”
Also, if you’re still wondering “why almonds??”, Starr has an answer for that one too:
“I like almonds a lot personally. I really geek out on their history. They need a Mediterranean climate and there’s only a few places in the world that have that- and we (in California) just happen to live there. So that actually did play a big role in it. This is local.”
Walnuts and pistachios have their own distinct flavors and textures, but almonds are a true shapeshifter- Starr describes them as “very versatile, creamy and easy to work with.”
2. It’s okay to start small (like, really small).
The early days were far from glamorous- the initial Bitchin’ operation kicked off with a $200 gift from her cousin and a second-hand blender (seen above), gifted from her husband and co-founder, Luke. Starr’s goal wasn’t to secure global dippin’ domination- it was simply to support her immediate family.
“After just eating it for 5 years, we found ourselves in a situation where we had a small baby to take care of and needed to make ends meet,” says Starr, at the time working as a freelance personal chef while experimenting at home with an assortment of recipes for vegan treats.
“My idea was to go to the farmers market and sample all sorts of vegan delights,” Starr reveals, noting that the big “eureka” moment didn’t come right away, not until “probably the third market - when we sold clear out of Bitchin’ Sauce. People were saying ‘this is more than just an interesting sample’- they liked it alot.”
Blowout sales at the Farmers Markets paved the way for Starr and Luke to start knocking on doors to get the first saucy tubs placed on a few local retail shelves in San Diego. Eventually, we spread throughout Southern California and across the US- but Rome wasn’t built in a day!
3. Values are where you put your time (and your budgets).
As more new faces and top talent came in- production crew, QA experts, accountants, saucy salespeople and more- Starr knew it was her responsibility to put a lasting imprint on the shape and culture of her growing company.
“We invested in some culture helpers in the early days. One of the main projects I gave to our new Chief of Staff was to start on-site childcare.”
This on-site childcare program, affectionately named Bitchin’ Kids, is now a cornerstone benefit available to all employees. It’s something Starr is particularly passionate about, drawing from the obstacles she faced as a working mother in a budding family.
“I didn’t want to choose between being there for my son physically as a mother and providing for him monetarily with income. And I just hated that that was the choice I had to make. It doesn’t work in the favor of the mothers, or the fathers, or the guardians, so it was really important to me to offer a solution.”
Fully staffed with a stellar group of qualified caregivers, Bitchin’ Kids has offered $1.6 Million in free childcare services since 2019.
“The kids just have the most amazing team of people watching them,” confesses Starr. “Whenever I take my own kids to the office I think ‘This is so much better than any Montessori program I’ve ever seen!”
If that sounds like a big investment for a small business- it absolutely is. But in Starr’s view, supporting the hardworking team members is a seamless part of the calculus of running a truly successful, sustainable operation.
“I think you have to fall into this weird understanding that giving is receiving. Right? You have to give to receive. You give to your team to get back a team that works hard and is happy. You’re not spending money having to hire and train new people, because they are delighted to be there. I think a lot of it has to do with having their kids one suite away.”
Ultimately, if there’s one thing to take away from Starr’s Bitchin’ journey, it’s to follow your own Bitchin’ beat- with patience, with compassion, and without compromise!