We had the good fortune of connecting with Lolita Woods and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Lolita, how did you come up with the idea for your business?
We started after Katrina, when our pastor told us we needed to come up with a product we can sell in case we have a disaster here. We can pick up our product and sell anywhere to continue to earn income. The program started and we sold each other’s product so we had 2 people selling crackling and my husband (Curtis) sold the crackling at the plants he would go to. There was an issue with the two and for a season they stopped giving Curtis the crackling but people were asking and that was his side hustle because he got a percentage for selling their product. I told Curtis “Let’s make our own” I did the research and with a couple of trials and errors we got it. We started selling our crackling and was told to stop for a season because one of the other guys started back cooking so Curtis took the other guys crackling back to sell and they wanted ours. We started to add different flavors. The guy we were selling for had three (mild, spicy and hot). I would send Curtis to work with 25 bags a day to sell and it went from 25 to 50 quickly. Eventually we were making more money selling crackling than him driving trucks. Curtis got fired and that same day he left there and we went into 5 stores. Selling crackling was our only source of income since I asked Curtis not to go back driving trucks. We started going to Houston Food Truck Park downtown and we sold out every week and people would call and make sure we were there. We started going to farmer’s market and we would sell out first and we just expanded from there. We sold our house in Katy and invested 100% into CAWS CRACKLIN. We now have 27 stores in the Houston and Surrounding areas, and we ship orders from our online store. We were blessed with a product that people love and we give all glory to God!
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Curtis was a truck driver. He has a gift to talk and he can sell. He loves to interact with people so he would talk about crackliing to anyone that would listen including kids. I have worked in restaurants and been in management positions but I also had my own business as a Daycare Provider and Curtis and I did well with that until I became ill with Vitiligo and I had to get treatments which is when Curtis started driving trucks because I need insurance. We have always worked as a team. He was an instructor for Word Processing and I asked him to stop that and help me with the Daycare business. He drove the van for transportation to and from school for the daycare. When I became ill and stopped doing daycare He drove trucks for 14 years when they fired him we started CAWS CRACKLIN full time. We put our product into 23 stores when we were told we had to take them out and get a Grant of Inspection with the state of Texas. It took us two years to get back into the stores legally. We had no idea of what it took to have our product sold in stores because Curtis would walk in a store tell them about the product give a sample and they would tell him to bring them. Selling crackling was our only source of income so when we had to take them out we sold our house and at a period of time we were homeless but no one ever knew because we were still going to markets, events and even selling on corners. We got our product on credit and would pay for it after we made the money and we built a business relationship with our distributor which helped us out. We save enough to get a building and it didn’t work out because it had so many issues we found out about after we signed the contract but we made it work long enough to get our Grant of Inspection and get back into the stores. We’re now operating in a shared kitchen which is approved by the state. We are in 27 stores now but we are trying to find a kitchen we can afford to expand. We have stores wanting our product but we can’t commit to anymore with the times we’re able to cook in the kitchen so that’s a challenge. We started with 7 flavors and now we have 37. We continue to improve and set us apart from all the other brands. We don’t put our product on shelves so it’s fresh when our customers get it. We don’t cook until the stores call and place an order. We don’t cook our crackling in it’s own grease so it’s not hard or greasy. It’s been Curtis and myself running CAWS CRACKLIN and we put in long hours to get it done. We have my daughter on board now which helps with the adminstrative part. Our stores are patient and work with us getting the product in. The longest our product stay on the shelf is 2 weeks before we have to bring another order. We take pride in our product being fresh and we love the reviews and feedback. 5 stars
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Day 1 I would take them to the Breakfast Klub for breakfast, Pardon My French for lunch. Social Beer Garden for some entertainment Day 2 Breakfast Brunch, J&J Lounge for lunch Dinner and entertainment Everything Seafood and Wings Day 3 through 6 I would cook breakfast at home and spend time catching up on them since they’re visiting me. We would spend time going over what they like and want to do and plan from there. Look over the Houston Black Restaurant and Business page. I like to entertain at home, play spades, listen to music etc. So basically I would let them decide where and what they want and go from there.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I would like to thank our pastors who were with us from the beginning until now. She (Pastor Phyllis) developed a program called NO MORE POVERTY and she did my HAACP Plan, she went on interviews with us when people wanted to invest in our business. She made it her baby and she even came to work for us when we got our first building. She saw our vision and she helped us with everything we needed her to do. We both have very supportive families that boosted and some cheered us on. Our mom and dad were our biggest fan that encouraged us to keep going and live out our dream.
Instagram: CAWS CRACKLIN
Facebook: CAWS CRACKLIN
Other: We were having problems with our website so it’s being replaced now, hopefully it will be up soon. I didn’t know they were going to take the other one down before the new one was built.