We had the good fortune of connecting with Darren Tompkins and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Darren, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
As with most of my small business exploits it starts with the phrase “Wouldn’t it be cool if…” And during the pandemic lockdown this was a great time to reflect and plan.
Headlock Hot Sauce is the culmination of being an 80’s pro wrestling fan looking forward to every weekend to see Ricky The Dragon Steamboat, the Macho Man, Andre the Giant, The Ultimate Warrior, and so on.
I’ve produced several one-off wrestling shows in Houston over the years and always wanted to see if I could do more.
My next-door neighbor, Mike had given me a carrot-based hot sauce and I ate it on everything. When I tried to reorder it appeared the company didn’t exist anymore. So, since I had some personal time on my hands, I attempted to recreate and expand upon what I thought was close to the original. What resulted after a month of batch testing was a carrot-based hot sauce with a blend of jalapeños and habaneros that was delicious but not too hot.
I started giving samples away to friends along with a review request. It was not long before people started telling me they would buy it. In a stroke of incredible luck, the website www.headlockhotsauce.com was available! My childhood idea of pro wrestling being infused into my life was about to become a reality! A few days later I opened a bank account and I was in business. We are the very first pro-wrestling-themed hot sauce company!
What should our readers know about your business?
Headlock Hot Sauce combines two very loud, boisterous, and creative ideas we are very fond of. Pro-wrestling and hot sauce are a natural fit, and we have already started featuring regional performers and created collaborations with Lions Pride Wrestling out of Bryan, TX.
Running this company is crazy fun a lot of the time and we create situations for a lot of comedy. You simply will not find a better taste of heat and flavor that will appeal to our 3 target audiences:
Hot sauce fans – We have your back when it comes to flavor and heat of all levels!
Pro wrestling fans – We live it and breathe it. Our prized possession is our championship belt!
Diet and fitness fans – Our products are low sugar, Keto-friendly, diabetic-friendly, gluten-free, and low calorie.
Our branding is like no other hot sauce on the market. SUPLEX YOUR TASTE BUDS is our rallying cry and our sauces hit you like an atomic leg drop off of the top rope!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Being in the Heights it’s really difficult to get us out of our zip code, there is so much close by:
Lei Low- probably needs no introduction, the best tiki drinks on the planet.
Maison Pucha- I recommend everyone go here. Bring your appetites and good friendly fun in a classy atmosphere.
Postino- for fantastic wine and light bites.
The Post HTX- The best steak night and happy hour wine in the city!
Eureka Heights Brewing Company- Crazy fun, crazy good beer, and crazy fun people!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Years ago in my Army barracks room I found a poem by Edward Rowland Sill tucked into a drawer. The poem is titled “Opportunity” and I memorized it on the spot. I highly recommend giving it a read.
I’ve had lots of encouragement during the planning and launching phases. My wife Stephanie who is a master of scheduling and math handles all our numbers and Operations. Without her expertise we’d be sunk! My bro Taylor King Bertin is our Sales Partner.
There have been lots of friends who have helped us along the way. Our neighbors and close friends in the Heights who were our first batch test subjects for instance.
Houston Carson of Lion’s Pride Sports has been a great marketing partner and Johanna Watson from my day job as Director of Recruiting at Artemis Partners has always been supportive of this effort. In fact her daughter works for Headlock part-time so we have a unique relationship.
Facebook: Headlock Hot Sauce