Luis Naranjo, "Wicho", is the founder of the company that produces "La Perrona" sauce. He tells us how his product, 100% made in Tijuana, was born as an idea in the family restaurant: Mariscos "Los Wichos."
The daily life and the desire to improve the attention, service and offer in the restaurant, made Luis pay attention to something simple but fundamental to the menu that his family, led by his father, offers his customers: the ‘‘salsa’’.
He tells us that one day, five years ago, he turned and watched the tables and realized that they were offering sauces from everywhere but none that could be considered local, "from Tijuana". There were sauces “from Culiacan or Hermosillo, from Yucatan, from many places but no one made in Tijuana. That was the moment where we decided to prepare and package the first ‘‘Tijuanense’’ sauce. It is already on sale at local stores and, proudly, we are the first exporting to the United States.”
So, he bought a two-liter blender - he had to buy one because he was using his mother’s and had to return it - and then he started it to build the recipe. Between the blender and the desire to see an 100% Tijuana product at the tables of the city "and from all parts of the world", they began to mix ingredients and flavors in the restaurant office.
The first recipe achieved was the Chiltepin sauce, after three days of trying and trying recipes. Luis says that “they knew how to make homemade sauces, but not for their production in the market”.
After that, they thought how to name it and as it is now, it cannot be more Tijuana’s. Wicho told us that he and his parents "are tijuanenses" they were born here, and love the city and they know that “we need more products and things that identify us with the city.”
Beyond those positive things of belonging, of identity, of a product that is a sauce that doesn’t have artificial colors or flavors, we realized that in the market there are already many sauces, very commercial and higher price brands than us with more history.
Once realizing that, Luis wanted to "focus on a medium-term market, offering a good product and a good price." with that idea on mind, "La Perrona", came out, as Tijuana is, "muy perrona." (hella' cool/badass). And yes, it is a common local slang as well.
After talking about the name, he talked about the sauce. He said Its elaboration is very traditional. It doesn’t have artificial colors nor flavors. As you can tell, for its viscosity, color, and taste. “it is a little spicier than the normal sauce that you find in the market and its effect is delayed. You taste it and it becomes spicier and spicier as you keep going until you start to feel hot in your mouth. That's what we are looking for, that people like it.”
Video: 5th year anniversary of "La Perrona" sauce.
He acknowledges that Tijuana is a competitive market. That everything created here has been successful because of its peculiarity, because the city “is a mixture of flavors and cultures. Tijuana is made out of different ingredients and parts, and that’s exactly what we did with our sauce: it has ingredients from Sonora- specifically the chiltepin, although that is not the only flavor that stands out. There is also a seafood sauce, “La Perrona Black, one of yellow habanero and one of green habanero - as well as spices from India and South America, and bottle and packaging that we completely buy here in the city. Just like Tijuana, our sauce is a good mixture of everything. ”
The team of work of "La Perrona" is made up of 27 employees from the production area, four people from the sales team, and three more in executive duties. But Luis doesn’t forget how two people started the project, he and his father, in the office of the restaurant.
As they grew, they needed to hire more staff, but the pillar of the project has been his father. The idea was Luis's but the recipe was his father's. He says that his father "is the one who puts the magic into the flavors" and that he "rather plays the part of marketing and innovating. That is the team.”
No effort should be made alone, Luis says, and he also mentions that they have made many alliances with local companies that "have helped them" to "integrate the product into their logistics and marketing routes to reach more shelves and people."
As far as marketing is concerned, most brands were very traditional. They were not in social media sites, and we are and we exploit that aspect gracefully; we use many memes for advertising. In addition, our brand is already binational, it is already known as a cross-border brand
we are looking to reach "people that likes a spicy product" because our sauce "it's spicy." he said. Moreover, “people that are looking for a handmade product, without chemicals or artificial flavors. This sauce goes great with many dishes and your stomach digests it pretty well”.
Certainly, "La Perrona" is a success story. Last year they sold their first million units. Luis remembers; “it was something very exciting. It has been a challenge to achieve that for the first time. There is a message from five years ago that I sent to my sister where I was proud because we had sold 77 sauces. back then that was a great challenge. At six months, those were 77 boxes…”
That encouraged them to go for more. Luis continues saying that after that “we tried to sell in pallets and we exported eight wooden pallets full of product to the United States. Nowadays, that means we produce near 40,000 bottles a week. We have a growing business thanks to the support of everyone who has liked our brand. Every year we double our sales.
They will certainly go for more success. slowly but surely, and with a lot of humbleness, Luis says that he seeks to establish in the market and in the acceptance of their star product, the Chiltepin flavor, as well as the other flavors. He said they have stock at 3500 stores and that they just started it exporting to the United States this 2019's January. They sell over there "at very famous Mexican markets, such as the Northgate González Marquet.”
Video: Irene, ‘‘The heart’’ of the production of La Perrona.
He also said, ‘‘The objective is to continue growing in the United States.’’ That they have "sent products to Arizona" and that they "are about to send to New York." However, they don’t forget the national market: they have a strong presence in Chihuahua, Colima, Sonora and Sinaloa, but they want to expand more in the country. “And to think that long-ago the sales started it at the Calle Sexta, in the Pescadería Playitas. That is the point in Tijuana where it is still sold the most by single unit.”
From 1 blender, a fish shop and 77 units, to one million units sold. From Tijuana, to Mexico and the world. Luis never forgets how it all started it and that is why he says that in order to start an entrepreneurship you need “a lot of resilience”. He let us know he is a person that is always looking to know "how to do things". that is what defines an entrepreneur, he said.
To do so, to undertake this type of challenge, you don't have to wait for the moment or to have enough money or the machinery or the market. No, because if we wait for the perfect moment, we won't do anything. You have to throw yourself in, stumble, take risks, but calculating all the possibilities. Fear is what stops entrepreneurs the most, although one must be disciplined, constant and determined.