Itso/Notso Hot Sauce is a family affair. Created by entrepreneur and hot sauce enthusiast John Matishius, Sr. back in 1995 from the bounty of his garden, and now ratcheted up by his son John Matishius, Jr., also an entrepreneur(and sometime pro rock musician), honoring‘the family sauce’, and keeping life fun and full of flavor.
Itso/Notso’s CEO Johnny Matishius, Jr. and Director of Operations Rebecca Straney, who share the journey of getting the moreish family sauce‘to market’.
Why Hot Sauce?
‘My Dad,(John Matishius Sr.), was always tinkering around in his garden and kitchen, making hot sauce to give away to family in holiday baskets. Everyone loved his sauce and kept asking for more. So year after year we kept making bigger and bigger batches to give out and satisfy the growing demand. Now we’re making really big batches!’
Like father like son?
Dad’s original sauce got the momentum going with friends and family. Then, while I was in college in Colorado I started making the‘family sauce’, on my own. In 2008 I moved to CA and had some time.(John’s dynamic bio includes entrepreneur and pro rock musician.) I wanted to see if we could to turn this sauce that everyone loved so much into something real. It took about a year and a half to get a safe legal product. You know how that goes, two steps forwards, three steps back. But we stayed really true to the family recipe.
“My Dad’s still around, and he’s super stoked about me bringing this to market and it’s a really cool good feeling, making it happen.”
-John Matishius, Jr.
Johnny And Rebecca Are Not Brother And Sister. (The Team Behind Itso/Notso). After a successful career with advertising empire Ogilvy and Mathers, Rebecca Straney, a very close friend of Johnny Jr.’s, moved out to California to help the product legitimately take flight. Johnny:‘I had been very‘cottage’, and had been handing the product out for years and years. Rebecca has played an integral part in getting the product to store shelves and bringing this thing to market.’ Rebecca:‘The East Coast background and drive puts you at an advantage. I definitely cut my teeth in Boston and New York City, and I was happy to you use my skills to help promote this cool family business.’
Soul of the Sauce:
We put a lot of energy into making sure we’re getting the very best local California ingredients possible. This is a small business. It’s Rebecca and I. This is not profit driven. So when you buy Itso/Notso, you’re enjoying something that is an alternative to a big conglomerate company and giving a family business, and something different, a try.
‘Itso/Notso is a Louisiana style hot sauce, with similarities to Tabasco, but what we are not as vinegar forward. I believe we have a better flavor balance, backed up with a true family story. We’re just some young people trying to do some cool things and do them right.’
-John Matishius, Jr.
Ensuring Itso/Notso Flavor Integrity.
This was the biggest challenge. Without giving away too many of our secrets, it ultimately came down to aligning ourselves with the people who were growing our cayenne. After years of trial and error we finally figured this out. Because of this the consistency of our sauce will stay the same batch after batch.
My parents travelled the world extensively when they were young, and as a family, we’ve always been adventurous eaters. Mom and Dad were always cooking exciting stuff. I remember when I was little kid, I just wanted macaroni and cheese, but they had me trying all this weird food… Looking back, it was great because I got to explore all this amazing stuff. Hot sauce just kind of can fell in there.’
Road to Purveyor-ship.
It’s been a difficult but very rewarding journey.We learned everything the hard way, but I think this is the best way to learn. We just threw ourselves into the deep end. We’ve finally got the product just where we want it and it’s looking really good. We couldn’t be happier
Advise To Start Up Purveyors?
Just keep pushing. Everyone is going to give you ten reasons why you can’t to do it. And it’s going to be hard every step of the way. Just keep moving and stay true to your core. Keep pushing, it’s not easy. Nothing is ever easy.