What started as a hobby for professional interior designer, Ishmael Phetogo, has turned into a source of income to weather the COVID-19 storm.
For Phetogo, the pandemic was not gloom and doom after all as his pastime love for cooking has given birth to a chilli sauce enterprise.
Many households have traditionally used chilli sauce as a condiment to lift any meal for many households, but Phetogo has turned this dip into a lucrative business.
Just like many hot sauces that begin with homemade concoctions, Phetogo’s Gardeners Chilli Sauce has managed to grow into a legend amongst friends that eventually developed into a business within a short period of time.
In an interview, Phetogo revealed that before the pandemic he was fully focussed on his interior design business under his company Glam Interior Designs.
However, when the coronavirus situation worsened many professionals found themselves in a bind.
“As the pandemic forced us to close shop I developed a hobby for cooking and fortunately enough something good came out of that, which is my chilli sauce,” he told BusinessMonitor. “Cooking three meals a day inspired me to create something that I can share with the world.” Phetogo says he was encouraged to commercialise his talent by his friends who usually came over to his house.
“I then took my craft seriously and started conducting research on branding, marketing all the chilli sauce works.
My first client was from Facebook from a person I normally interact with who was really surprised by the quality of the sauce,” he narrated. “The feedback lured more customers who wanted to also taste my sauce and that’s how I started receiving orders,” added Phetogo.
On a normal day, Gardeners Chilli Sauce produces about 250 bottles of the sauce but can ramp up production as per the demand. Operating from home the determined Phetogo then took his chilli sauce to the streets, knocking on doors of bo ‘Mmaseapei’ (street cooks) who liked the product.
Gardeners Chilli Sauce has five flavours namely Lemon & Herb, Chilli, Mild, Garlic and BBQ marinate.
Despite the tough competition he faces from well established brands, Phetogo is confident that his product will stand out due to its taste and the secret ingredients he has added. He also believes his street smart hustle is an advantage because he fills the gap that his competitors have not explored. His biggest clients are on the streets from bo ‘Mmaseapei’ to individuals and those who buy in bulk to sell.
Phetogo also believes in empowering Batswana as he normally procures his ingredients from street vendors and local farms.
For his future prospects, Phetogo has bigger plans of penetrating the international market which he said will be extended to many industries involved in the production including farmers. The entrepreneur also plans to approach financial institutions for funding to grow his business as he has seen the potential, thus create more employment opportunities.