Turning Up the Heat on Oregon’s Food Scene

Nikki Guerrero stirring a vat of hot sauce in her North Portland kitchen

Turning Up the Heat on Oregon’s Food Scene

When Nikki Guerrero moved to Portland from Phoenix, Arizona to pursue a career in commercial photography in 1999, Mexican cuisine had not yet made a significant impact on Oregon’s food scene. Guerrero grew up making salsa and tortillas with her grandmother from Mexico and was always asked to bring the salsa to social gatherings. One day, a friend from Arizona who had just purchased a local produce and grocery store in North Portland, asked Guerrero if she could supply fresh salsa from locally sourced ingredients for the store. After convincing a neighboring bar to let her use their kitchen before opening, Guerrero was able to put Hot Mama Salsa on her friend’s shelf for the first time in 2008. Demand quickly grew for Guerrero’s traditional salsa and she knew she could use some help managing her growing business.

Solution

Guerrero turned to the Portland Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Portland Community College to find the answers to her growing list of questions on how to run a business. By working with the center’s counselors and participating in their Advanced Small Business Management Program, Guerrero was able to gain the knowledge about how to effectively manage her business. Funded in part by the U.S. Small Business Administration, SBDCs help small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs with free face-to-face business consulting and at-cost training on topics including business planning, accessing capital, marketing, regulatory compliance, technology development, international trade and much more.

Impact

Today, Hot Mama Salsa employs 10 team members and has expanded to three separate product lines which include fresh salsa, hot sauce, and chili oil. In 2016, the business partnered with a local property owner to design and build a 1,000 square-foot commercial kitchen which supports six local food businesses as well as hosting pop up and catering chefs. It has added an online store and ships its products across the country. Hot Mama Salsa remains committed to supporting the local community and is a popular fixture on Portland’s farmers market scene.

For more information

Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) in Oregon: https://bizcenter.org

Hot Mama Salsa: https://hotmamasalsa.com

Company Name: 
Hot Mama Salsa
Location: 
Portland, Oregon