Out of the Ordinary: Mary Daugherty
OUT OF THE ORDINARY
Owner, Mary’s Downtown Salsa
Over 20 years ago, Mary Daugherty, a lover of Mexican food, concocted a salsa recipe in an effort to please her own taste buds. In sharing it with others, people always would say “This is really good, you should sell it!”
Q. How did you get started?
Back in the early 90’s I did have a following of people that when I made salsa always wanted some for themselves, but it was not until 2009 when we were awarded the title of “Best Salsa in Brevard” at the Fiesta Brevard event that I decided to really take the plunge into the packaged foods industry. After jumping through all the legal hoops and with our title proudly displayed on our label, we started selling our Medium Salsa at Downtown Produce Market & More in July 2009.
Q. Any certification/training necessary?
I do not have any formal culinary training – just hours and hours working in a kitchen. In order to have a legal food business, you must receive Food Safety Management Certification. We also must operate within a licensed and inspected facility.
Q. How long have you lived in Brevard?
I have lived in Brevard since I was two years old. And I am a native Floridian; I was born in Clermont.
Q. So you went to high school in Brevard?
Yes, I did my entire educational journey in this area: Patrick Elementary School, DeLaura Junior High, Satellite High School, Brevard Community College and University of Central Florida (most classes at the Cocoa campus) earning a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration.
Q. What do you enjoy the most about your business?
I feel great satisfaction knowing that so many people enjoy something that I created. When I sample my products it is so gratifying to hear the “uuummmmms” as people taste the different flavors. From the very beginning, people said to me that our salsa is addicting, which is why our tag line is: “Satisfying all Loco Salsa Addicts.”
Q. Do you produce the salsa yourself?
Yes, we produce all of our salsas at the TCS Foods Commissary Kitchen in Suntree. Without the use of this kitchen, we would not have been able to launch our business. Equipment and rent are huge expenses in this industry and they provide the perfect start-up and growth scenario.
Q. How do you develop new recipes?
All of the new flavors that I have developed have been spinoffs from the original medium salsa. When I was adding a HOT salsa, I hosted a sampling for our Salsa Addict Fans to participate in a hot salsa taste test. I created four different salsas and they all preferred the one that was closest to the original recipe. So with that in mind and comments received from others, I know that people like the original base flavor of our salsa and that makes it easy to expand the product line. When I create a new recipe I provide samples to several of my salsa fans and get their feedback. People tell you what they would like to try – so I always listen. We started with one salsa and now we have five and one dip. Packaging costs are high so we can’t add as many products as we would like, but we add new items as growth permits.
Small business start-up costs and the shelf life of our product have been our biggest challenges. It is expensive to start a business and being a small business you do not get “volume” discounts on products, etc. In regard to our shelf life, we do not add any preservatives to our products so we do not have the one month shelf life of other products with preservatives. We continue to research affordable packaging methods for the size of our company. To acquire the larger equipment means finding additional capital through investors or loans.
This has been an exciting new adventure for me, my family and even my close friends. Starting a business in the food industry has challenged me in ways I never expected and also has allowed me to use all the talents, skills and contacts that I have accumulated in my past occupations. I have been very blessed that so many people have supported my efforts. The last two years have flown by and I am so excited to dream and plan for what will be ahead for our company and our Salsa Addict Fans.
For more, check out MarysDowntownSalsa.com
Retail locations where Mary’s Downtown Salsa is available:
- Downtown Produce Market & More
- Florida Key Lime Pie Company
- Indialantic Seafood
- Melbourne Beach Market
- Paradise Health & Nutrition – Suntree
- Petty’s Meat Markets – Suntree & Babcock