R Sauce Owners Get Laid Off, Hit the Sauce: In this Week's Locally Made

In 2008, Sharon Stein became another victim of the recent economic downturn when she was laid off from her position as a Marketing Director with a timeshare company. 

With unemployment at an all-time high and job prospects few and far between, she decided to make a run at the barbeque sauce business, producing and bottling her sweet barbeque sauce recipe, R Sauce.  

Little did she know that the business would become a family endeavor.  Sharon's son Adam joined the company after also losing his job in the resort industry.

And the rough times weren't completely behind them.  A few months into the new business and just as sales at the farmers markets and online were starting to pick up, Sharon received a certified letter from a large barbeque restaurant based out of the southeast. It turned out that Sharon had unknowingly named her product using words that were trademarked by the chain.  At that moment, Sharon wasn't sure if her small business, one that both she and her son were depending on, would survive.

But Sharon and Adam didn't give up.  They hired a lawyer and negotiated with the company for time to change the name, to R Sauce - based on a line frequently used at market - would you like to try our sauce - with Sharon's midwestern accent making the word our sound more like R. 

The name change has turned out to be a blessing, the new name is easy to remember and their loyal customers stuck with them.  Adam, a self-described "closeted computer nerd", redesigned the labels and launched the R Sauce website. 

Sharon grew up in the food business, her father owned eight steak restaurants in the Chicago area.  R Sauce is based on Sharon's own recipe, one that she has been making and giving to friends for almost twenty years.  It is a sweet sauce, making it well suited for all types of meats, including salmon, and has been dubbed the Swiss Army Knife of sauces by one of their loyal customers.

Sharon and Adam began selling the barbeque sauce in May of 2009, paying their dues early on while pitching the product in 115 degree weather through that first summer.  They still work hard, putting in six days a week at local markets before heading home to ship internet orders.  All the time together occasionally puts a strain on the mother-son relationship.  "Sure, we sometimes get on each other's nerves."  Sharon admits, with a smile, "but we work really well together."  

She goes on to say that they both add something unique to the business and she couldn't do it with out Adam.  And just to prove that two flavors are better than one, the team will add a Hot and Spicy sauce to the product mix next week.

Sharon and Adam are at a market almost every day, check their website for more information on where you can pick up R Sauce.  And stop by tomorrow when Sharon shares two unexpected and easy recipes that can be made using R sauce.