Sienna Sauce, now headquartered in Sienna, Texas, began in Brooklyn, New York. There, Tyla-Simone Crayton, eight years old, created her first batch of sauce with some help from her mother, Monique. Their favorite wing restaurant had closed, and Tyla-Simone wanted to see if she could recreate the recipe for the unique, sweet-tasting sauce. The result was a sauce very different from the restaurant’s and much better!
Sienna Sauce can be used as a dip, marinade, glaze or an added ingredient to any recipe. It combines the perfect blend of sweet with a hint of tang that perfectly complements chicken, pork, beef or seafood, whether fried, smoked, baked or grilled. Sienna Sauce comes in three delicious flavors: Tangy, Spicy and Lemon Pepper and is now sold in stores (e.g., Wegman’s) and on the Sienna Sauce website, as well as on other eCommerce platforms, such as Amazon and Walmart.
At first, Tyla-Simone made the sauce and Monique made the wings for “Wing Wednesdays” when Monique got together with her friends, for family functions, and for those special “Mom and Me” wing nights. Tyla-Simone loved the wings, but her dream was to sell the sauce and have it on shelves around the world. She had some bad times to overcome first: when Monique had a stroke and when the duo was homeless for a year. Monique taught Tyla-Simone how hard work brings success, as does the right attitude. She told Tyla-Simone that they may be homeless physically, but they would not be homeless mentally.
When they moved to Texas, they opened a pop-up wing restaurant in their home to introduce the sauce. Four deep fryers were in the kitchen. The dining room was repurposed for customers to order and then wait. In 8 months, they sold between 700 and 1,000 wings every Friday night. And the sauce was getting rave reviews.
Monique gave Tyla-Simone $1,500 to start her sauce business. She bought some bottles and labels, made the sauce every Sunday morning, and sold it to the wings customers. Now, Tyla-Simone is 17 years old and CEO of Sienna Sauce, Co.; Monique is President and COO; and “Auntie” Nia Crooks is CCO.
Business swelled when Tyla-Simone appeared on a local television show. She then gained more fame by winning:
- $25,000 in the Side Hustle Showdown on GMA3: Strahan, Sara & Keke
- $10,000 at the Revolt Summit Pitch Competition
- $10,000 at the Essence and New Voices Target Accelerators Pitch Competition
- a Sauce-a-Holic award in 2018 and 2019
- the first Youth Entrepreneur Pinnacle Award from the Houston Black Chamber of Commerce
Tyla-Simone also attracted some high-profile investors, such as Grammy-winning rapper Hakeem “Chamillionaire” Seriki and Beyonce, who on Juneteenth announced that the proceeds from her single “Black Parade” would go to Black-owned businesses, including Sienna Sauce.
Tyla-Simone is a model for how to manage time! Her motto is: “Take it day by day, and take every day by storm.” She is an honor student who is home-schooled, taking more classes on Monday and Tuesday so that she can work on her business Wednesday through Friday. She is also an advocate for youth entrepreneurship, a board member of the Black History Club, a member of the American Sign Language Club, and an avid community volunteer. All the while, planning for the future:
- For the business, she’s planning a subscription service and a new hot sauce line, Sienna Lit.
- College is part of her plan, as soon as she feels the foundation of the business is solid enough.
- She is developing a youth sales program to inspire and incentivize the next generation by selling the sauce, earning 40% of the profits and learning about business and sales.
- She is planning quarterly Zoom Q&A sessions led by her and other speakers to educate youth about entrepreneurship, financial literacy, how to engage customers, and what to do when you’re told no.