From homelessness to running a six-figure business, Tyla-Simone Crayton is the self-proclaimed “Sauce Boss.” The 17-year-old CEO created Sienna Sauce, a sauce you can put on almost everything from burgers to wings. She got her start when she was just eight years old. She got the idea to create a replica of her favorite sauce after her neighborhood wing business shut down in her hometown of Brooklyn, New York. Even though the sauce creation was by accident, her version, she says, turned out to be even better. “It was really spur of the moment,” Tyla-Simone said. “My mom had made wings, and we didn’t have any special sauces to go with them, so I was like this is the perfect time for me to try to do something.”
In 2013, Tyla-Simone and her mother, Monique, relocated to Sienna Plantation, a suburb outside of Houston, Texas, where the sauce got its name. They began selling their signature wings from home in 2017, and their popularity quickly grew. A year later, with permission from her mom, Tyla-Simone packaged her first bottles of Sienna Sauce, with a $1500 investment from her mom. “We bought 1000 bottles. Then we bought labels from Office Depot and the tops we bought separately too. Then we bought the seals and I had to learn how to use a heat gun,” Tyla-Simone added.
Tyla-Simone admits that the road to success hasn’t always easy. There was a time when she and her mother were homeless. Her mother Monique, who is also president and COO of Sienna Sauce, even suffered a stroke. Despite these shortcomings, the mom-and-daughter duo agree these experiences helped mold Tyla-Simone into the budding businesswoman she is today. “Me being homeless, me having a stroke, those were just challenges along the way,” says Monique, “I’m grateful that we had those because I also think that’s why she’s so grounded because she knows what it is to have and not have. I’ve seen the growth in her, and she’s sacrificed a lot.”
These sacrifices were not in vain. Tyla-Simone and her six-figure business have received recognition from celebrities like Keke Palmer, Mark Cuban, and even Beyoncé. With her company grossing over $175,000 in 2019, the Sauce Boss says she is just getting started. “I met Keke Palmer,” Tyla-Simone said. “She told me like there’s gonna be people who try to knock you down on your way to the top, but like keep going, keep pushing, and don’t listen to the negativity.”
As a black-owned business, Tyla-Simone already knows the value of supporting other black-owned businesses. She uses a black-owned fulfillment center in Sugarland, Texas, to pack and ship her products. “A lot of businesses are not doing so well, and it’s hard even to reach out and ask people to buy your stuff, but I support a black business like every other day.” Tyla-Simone proudly said. “So during COVID, it’s become a first thought, if I’m looking for something, let me see if it’s Black-owned. Making that a first thought and not a second thought will really help our community in general and just building generational wealth and legacy in our community because we built this world, and we should benefit from it.”
Tyla-Simone is also seeking to take her brand to the next level. The young CEO participated in an eight-week intensive training with SKU DFW, a Consumer Product Goods (CPG) accelerator for later startups. The eight-week program that ended this month helps turn CPG brands into world-class brands. They teach a curriculum that covers topics important to startup businesses like branding, channel strategy, finances and legal information. Tyla-Simone was not only the youngest but also the only Black entrepreneur handpicked out of 150 companies to move forward with the program. She hopes to leverage this new knowledge to expand her business into more stores.
Sienna Sauce is now sold in over 70 stores and counting between the Houston area and New York. They come in three mouthwatering flavors, spicy, tangy, and the brand’s bestseller, lemon pepper. The 12-ounce bottles are $10 each and can also be found online at www.siennasauce.com.