This one's for my people... March 19 2018, 4 Comments
Every order made from March 20th - 23rd gets a FREE jar of Jojo's Sriracha in honor of Jojo's mom Joni.
Yes, you heard that right.
March is a cosmic month for me. I lost my mom to ALS (Lou Gehrigh's Disease) on March 20th, 1999. That was nineteen years ago today. It was three days before her 40th birthday. She left behind four kids: Jesirae (17), Jojo (15), Justin (13) and Jinjer (5).
March 20th is also the Equinox which marks the first day of Spring. In March, 2012 I poured my first three batches of Jojo's Sriracha in the back of my friend's deli in Ridgewood, Queens.
March is also the month in which St. Patrick's Day occurs. This is meaningful because my mom was a beautiful Irish sprite who had a shamrock tattooed on her left butt cheek. She waited tables when we were young and every St. Patty's Day she'd wear a button to work that said, "Kiss My Shamrock." Everyone thought she was so sweet. She told everyone to kiss her ass :)
For the last two years in March we've raised money for the Rocky Mountain Chapter ALS Association. This year we decided that March just comes too early so we're moving our fundraiser to July (details coming soon). We've been casting our net of friends, business owners and ballers to get involved and if one thing is clear, it's how awesome and supportive our people are... and if you're reading this email, you're one of my people.
We decided to honor this auspicious time in a different way by giving to you.
Every order made from March 20th - 23rd gets a FREE jar of Jojo's Sriracha in honor of Joni.
No code required. Just place your order and we'll take care of the rest :)
We have a special batch of sriracha with red and green chiles that we've been working on for a while; you might have seen it called "Swirl" or "Christmas" but those names never really did it justice. We'll be releasing it under a special name soon, but you'll get the first look at our prototype. If you haven't tried it yet, it's delicious AF.
My friends, you may not realize it but this jar and your purchase are a direct connection to me, my family and ALS. I want to thank you from the bottom of my purple unicorn heart with this jar.
P.S. if you told your friends and they ordered too, we'd all be one big happy family :)
We're Bringing Sexy Back January 30 2017, 4 Comments
21 Days of Clean Eating
February 7th - 28th, 2017
You might know Jojo's as the hipster sriracha that came on the scene via Brooklyn in 2012. What you might not know is why I started making sriracha in the first place.
It was 2010 and I did what any good hipster-in-training would do: I enrolled in a yoga teacher training and decided to take refined sugar out of my diet for a month. That's when I realized that sugar was in everything, including my beloved sriracha. So I started making my own.
I wasn't looking to get my sexy on but it was a side effect I couldn't avoid. I lost weight. I saved money from cooking at home and not eating out. I threw out all my conventional beauty products and finally cleared up my skin from the inside out. I even smelled better.
I've decided that 2017 is all about getting back to our roots of clean eating. We'll quite literally be cookin' up:
If you don't have a stash of Jojo's Sriracha in your pantry, use COUPON CODE: CLEANAF for 21% OFF our entire website.
To review, here's your to-do list:
3. While you're waiting eagerly for new sriracha recipes, get fired up with some of my favorite films that have inspired me to eat better, live lighter and think differently:
Love Hard Profile #1: Stowaway Kitchen + Coffee February 01 2016, 1 Comment
This month we're looking at what it means to love hard.
Make Room For the Good Stuff January 31 2016, 0 Comments
My partner and I just completed a four week cleanse over the month of January. Although we've done these for many years, this was the first time we did so through our business or in the public eye of social media. We kept it simple: one week of binge watching food films and then three weeks in which we eliminated one thing each week from our diet or lifestyle that was't serving us and replaced it with something that was. I tackled the usual suspects like sugar and beer - but the most interesting thing that happened to me along the way didn't really have anything to do with food at all.
I recently watched a TED talk by Graham Hill titled Less Stuff, More Happiness. It's about taking up less space and editing down your life. "Make room for the good stuff," he says. One thing I've learned about myself whenever I cleanse is that I have what I call a "scarcity reflex." The moment I feel deprived (of food, sugar or that nightly beer I've become accustomed to) I start to grip. It's the same reason I have jeans in my closet that I haven't worn in two years. There is something inherently difficult about letting go... it is the unnerving fear and uncertainty of being without.
It doesn't really matter if it's food or jeans or the papers in the basement I've been saving for decades. Scarcity is unbiased and it's grip deceiving - as if our accumulations will somehow provide us with security, fulfillment or happiness - when in reality it leaves us quite literally heavy. So I started letting go... We dug up the basement. We got a paper shredder. We rewrote our budget. We donated clothes we didn't need. We bought beautiful food. We stayed home and cooked. We went to more yoga. We even bought a few great pieces of clothing - because it's not just about letting go. It's about making room for the good stuff.
Tomorrow is a new month and I'm starting it feeling stronger, lighter and happier than before. Don't get me wrong - I still have plenty of work to do with my body, heart, mind (and closet). But I can tackle each of those things knowing that I am not without. I am already enough. And if I clear out more room, it will be for the good stuff...
Dear Beer... January 11 2016, 2 Comments
Our relationship is complicated.
I have loved you for a long time (see above). The sound you make when your can opens elicits a Pavlovian response, knowing that your bubbly, bright, hoppy essence is soon to create joy in my mouth.
Sometimes I dream about you in yoga.
When it's hot out, I want you the most.
I think I loved you a little too hard in college. The same could be said for grad school. It wasn't until I graduated and finally started growing up that I took a moment to ask myself what you really mean to me. I've seen you seduce members of my family. I've heard even worse stories about what you did to my grandpas. Sometimes I wonder why I even love you at all.
But then I remember.
You taste so good. You make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
You've also made me do some pretty stupid shit.
Once (or twice) a year I need to give you up for a while. This will be my sixth (or so) cleanse doing so. I've learned that I'm never my best when I'm too close to you... but without you, life can be pretty boring. Like I said, it's complicated.
See you in three weeks honey,
Jojo's Community Cleanse, January 4th - 31st January 04 2016, 0 Comments
Last Christmas a buddy of ours was trying to cleanse. We met at a bar and he wasn't drinking. It was a rough time for him. I remember saying, "Dude - what are you doing trying to cleanse in December? You're going against the forces of the universe! Just wait until January."
I grew up surfing, which is just like this. You wait for that moment between sets to paddle out past the break. And then you sit there. Waves come in sets, with time in between where nothing really happens. The magic is when the swells come and you point your board in line with the one you want. Then you paddle like crazy and if you're lucky enough, you stand up and surf.
November and December are packed with holidays. It's more like the time when you get stuck in the break and pounded by wave after wave... party after party, cheese ball after cheese ball, drink after drink. It can definitely be fun, but I always come out exhausted on the other side.
Then suddenly it's a new year and everything shifts. This is the time to find that wave you really want, align your surfboard and paddle.
Jojo's Sriracha started when I took refined sugar out of my diet for a month. When I looked at the ingredients on my squeeze bottle of sriracha, I knew our relationship was over. The next month I began a yoga teacher training that began with an Ayurvedic cleanse. I started reading all my food labels and changed the way I ate and lived. I even started making my own sriracha. My life has never been the same.
In January I'm always ready for a reset. It's a great time to tighten the reigns, re-calibrate and start a new year feeling fresh, focused and, ok, damn sexy. Who doesn't want to feel damn sexy?
Can I get a hell ya?
Email firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll put your on our Community Cleanse Email List :)
Whether you live in Denver or not, I invite you to paddle out with us. Here's what we'll be up to:
Monday, Jan. 4th - Sunday, January 10
Video binge watch. Yup, you heard that right. We want you to plop your ass in front of the TV and get so full of knowledge that you are damn near ready to explode. We'll have a documentary, video or TED talk to share with you every day.
Here are the food films in the order we recommend watching:
#1: In Defense of Food
#2: Fed Up
#3: Forks Over Knives
#5: Hungry For Change
WEEK 2, Monday Jan. 11th - Sunday, January 17th ...
WEEK 3, Monday Jan. 18th - Sunday, January 24th ...
WEEK 4, Monday Jan. 25th - Sunday, January 31st ...
For each of the following weeks, pick ONE thing in your diet or lifestyle that doesn't serve you and replace it with something that does.
We've cleansed many times and it's always better with friends! Trust. So be sure to grab a like-minded homie.
For those of you in and around Denver - we'd love to see you!
My partner Rachel and I will be meeting every Sunday morning for yoga and coffee. We'd love to practice with you and catch up after to share story and keep each other pumped. We'll practice from 9:00-10:30am at the Kindness Yoga on Platte St. and then head downstairs to Carbon Beverage Cafe for coffee and a bite to eat.
LAST BUT NOT LEAST!
Kindness Yoga will be hosting their Yoga Challenge January 4th - February 14th.
This year, you can set your own goal of 2, 3, 4 or 5 yoga classes per week. When you meet your goal, you'll be enrolled to win a yoga teacher training or Vitamix.
We absolutely recommend a regular yoga practice for body, mind and heart. Jump in at any of their six locations in the Denver (and now Golden!) area.
I don't know about you, but I'm ready for a new year.
Let's make it a great one.
the business of loving hard November 09 2015, 16 Comments
In June of 2014, I packed my belongings into a moving pod and hopped on a plane from New York City to Denver. I had been living in the basement of my Grandma's house for one of the most turbulent years of my life. I had been in therapy for months until I mustered the courage to tell my then wife that I had been having affairs for the entirety of our relationship. And that wasn't even why I was in therapy :/
I was in therapy because my mom died from ALS when I was 15. That's a pretty traumatizing thing for a 15 year old to go through and my three siblings and I never got help for it. What I got instead were a handful of coping mechanisms that pretty much tainted any close relationship in my life. I crossed boundaries with most all of my friends. I cheated on my girlfriends. I couldn't get enough love and I got really good at deceiving people to get it.
To know the story of Jojo's Sriracha is to know the story of Jojo, so here goes...
Five and a half years ago I took refined sugar out of my diet. That's why I started making my own sriracha in the first place. The following month I enrolled in a yoga teacher training that started with a four week ayurvedic cleanse. This was one of the transformative moments in my life. It wasn't just that I changed my diet. I changed the way I lived. I decided to let go of the person that I had been so that I could grow. I wanted to be different. I wanted to be better. The whole "cleanse" thing became metaphorical pretty quickly.
There were 11 other people in my yoga training, all looking to make similar changes in their lives. We spent 3 months practically living in the yoga studio together, away from our mates and other friends. We opened our hearts, we practiced yoga, we wrote poems, we shared stories. We cried a lot. And two of us fell in love.
Her name was Rachel. She was a five-foot-seven, silver-haired fox. I flirted with her, even though I had a live-in girlfriend whom I was getting ready to move to NYC with and even though Rachel was married for over 20 years with two kids. She was my cup of tea: older, smart, tender, sweet, but also strong and confident.
I could write novels about the cosmic love between us. Maybe one day I will. But for now I'll tell you that that was the beginning of a four year long-distance love affair. I moved to NYC with my girlfriend. Rachel stayed in Denver with her family. We text every day but kept our affair secret.
As love affairs go, things got messy. We tried to break things off but never quite could. I started my business and even got married. I tried to create a totally normal life on top of a totally dysfunctional one. And it wasn't until I finally confessed to Rachel that I had been having another affair that she realized how far deeply I was gone and how far deeply I had pulled her along. She told me to get therapy and I knew in that moment that I truly needed help.
I did my research and managed to find an incredible therapist. On our first appointment, I told her everything. I must have have talked for 40 of our 45 minutes together. I told her all the things I never told anyone. I had been carrying this dark, heavy weight around for most of my life - but that day I decided it was time I let it go.
I went to therapy every week for a year and then every two weeks for six months until I moved. That's when I shook my life up and poured it out. It was way more like deep cleaning than starting over. It was messy and hard and in the process I hurt a lot of people. Some of them forgave me, some of them didn't. For others, the process is still one day at a time.
I ended up in my hometown of San Clemente, California on my 30th birthday - a birthday that felt special for reasons I didn't even know. I was visiting my best friend whom I've known since I was 10 years old. I spent my actual birthday mostly alone. I drove down from San Diego to Camp Pendleton where I grew up while my dad was in the military. I walked on the beach of my childhood, thinking about the times I had been there with my mom. I couldn't resist swimming in the water, even thought it was November and freezing cold.
Rachel and I hadn't spoken in months. Things had gotten so messy and painful and I had refused to talk with her about it. She was still married and I was trying to move on. But on that day at the beach, the last of the weight I had been carrying around finally came off. I had done so much work to get to where I was, but I still was not fully listening to my heart.
I knew in my heart that I was still in love with Rachel. I knew that I would never stop looking for her in my new relationships. I knew that I would miss the way she smells. I knew that it would never be fair to be with someone else when I was still thinking about her.
As the universe would have it, I was supposed to fly back to NY the next day with a 4-hour layover in Denver. So I decided to do the crazy thing you do when you're in love. I text her to meet me at the airport. Hesitantly, she met up with me and I put all my cards on the table. I told her I was still in love with her. I told her I would move to Denver or do anything I had to so we could be together.
She was in shock. And it took her several months of navigating through the heartache I had put her through to decide that she did in fact want to be with me. Eventually she told her husband and together they told their kids. Two months later I was on a plane to Denver and Rachel and I threw our lives together.
* * *
Making Jojo's Sriracha had never been a full-time gig for me and although it has grown quite a bit, it has yet to pay me a dime. In the 16 months since I moved back to Denver, 10 of those were spent building out a commercial kitchen to produce Jojo's in. Rachel was working 60-80 hours a week for a design company to support both of us. Once the kitchen was built out and production got going again, I thought I was going to feel happy but instead I felt totally alone.
In the years that Jojo's had gone from me making sriracha in my apartment to a company that was written up in the New York Times, Rachel had been a constant presence in the business. We designed the packaging together and I went to her constantly for help and advice. She was the business partner I always wanted but could never have. And now with her working constantly to keep us afloat, I missed her constantly.
We had always fantasized about running the company that we called "the empire" together - but in our real, three-dimensional life, that felt like a pipe dream. Instead, we were both just stressed, out of sync with ourselves and with each other. We had talked such a great game about creating this beautiful life together but in actuality it was pretty far from anything we had ever envisioned.
I suppose it was only a matter of time until one of us snapped and since she was often working on 3 or 4 hours of sleep, it was sure to be her. We met at a park one day after Rachel had met with her bosses. "I can't do this anymore," she said. This whole time she had putting up with an insane work schedule so she could financially support us both. "I always thought... and I don't mean this begrudgingly," she said, "that I had to be the one to support us." We just sort of looked at each other, realizing that it wasn't smart or fair for things to feel that way. "We're both smart and willing to work hard," I said, "Let's work together."
We started brainstorming - one of the things we do best when we're connected. We talked about all the ways we could work together and support ourselves. We talked about eating better, drinking less and going to yoga regularly again. We talked about what a great team we could be running "the empire."
* * *
It has taken several months for Rachel to unwind from her job and slowly get connected into Jojo's. In the meantime we started eating better, drinking less and going to yoga more regularly. Also, Rachel sleeps now. We have this little phrase we share between the two of us called, "The Whole Fucking Point." Like, we threw all our cards on the table to be together and make an awesome go of it. Isn't that The Whole Fucking Point? We have this great company and these beautiful products - there's no reason why this can't work.
So here we are friends - about to set out on one of the biggest journey's we, and certainly Jojo's, has ever experienced. We're excited, we're nervous, but we refuse to be scared. I don't consider myself a religious person, but I certainly have faith in some things, and this is one of them. I know that whatever happens, it's going to be awesome and I'm never going to regret jumping "all in" with the person I love, respect and adore more than anything.
We hope you'll join us on this wild ride. After all, it's The Whole Fucking Point...
jojo (& rach)
jojo's sriracha turns 3 years old! January 05 2015, 5 Comments
January 5, 2012 was the day I tried to fill out my certificate of incorporation to make jojo's sriracha a legitimate business. I was sitting on my bed in my studio apartment in Brooklyn - computer open, papers strewn all over the place. Like many milestones in this business, I couldn't afford to have someone do it for me so it was up to me to figure out how to do it myself. And as gratifying as it can be to figure things out on your own, sometimes it just feels like you're stuck and alone. I had already been working for a year trying to figure out how to start a business but this was a road block that was so outside of my knowledge base and experience that I was sure I would never figure it out. So I cried...
I cried because I thought it was over before it even started. I thought that if I wasn't smart enough to figure out how to make my business real on paper that I would never be smart enough to have a business in real life. I wanted to make this thing happen so badly, but I didn't know how. And I was pissed at myself for not immediately knowing what to do or how to move forward.
I can't remember exactly what happened next. At some point I must have put my head down, read the fine print and figured it out as best as I could. I crossed my fingers and put the form in the mail but it wasn't until I got the return letter that I could finally breathe - I had somehow successfully incorporated my business!
That was three years ago and although I can look back and laugh at that night, much of that experience still rings true. There have been so many moments just like that - where I am stuck, unsure, beaten down and feel like throwing in the towel. Not because I don't love what I do and want to keep doing it, but because in that moment I don't feel good enough to keep going. I like being good at what I'm doing - I like excelling and being successful. I cringe when I don't know how to do something. And though it's not very reasonable to expect myself to know everything about everything, I often do.
This is a picture of me when I was three years old. It's also my most embarrassing photo ever. Apparently being three means that it's time to party! And I agree that this is a milestone worth celebrating. It is easy to look back and remember all the moments that made getting here so difficult, but I also recognize the importance of taking time to celebrate our victories. Even more importantly, it is a good reminder to feel worthy.
Having a business is a constant challenge. I once heard someone say, "Being in business is solving problems." Incorporating was one of my first big challenges and it certainly has not been my last. The real challenge has been learning that I am capable and worthy enough to keep going. It might take a few breaths, or a phone call to a friend but these things are just tasks – and there is no roadmap to success besides the faith we have in ourselves to move forward.
Thank you for being with me on this awesome journey.
Here's to being three!
love, life and sriracha August 20 2014, 15 Comments
(a sneak peek of Denver HQ)
My dearest sriracha freaks,
Earlier this year I decided to move myself (and Jojo's) to Denver, Colorado. Serendipitously, Denver is the birthplace of Jojo's Sriracha. It's the place where I finally decided to give a fuck about my body... It's where I took refined sugar out of my diet for a month and completely transformed my life... it's the place I started scrutinizing every ingredient that went on or into my body. Denver is where I decided that I could eat better, live better and make a better sriracha...
Denver is also the place where I started my sacred yoga practice and did my yoga teacher training in 2010 at Vital Yoga just before I moved to New York. That's where I learned about ayurveda and threw away all my conventional beauty products and started making my own so I could finally clear up the crappy skin I had since I was a teenager. It's also where I met the great love of my life and then moved 2,000 miles away.
When I moved to New York, I had no idea I would start a business making sriracha. But I do know that I had opened my heart to the universe and asked her to show me the way to my greatest happiness. And as per the typical workings of the universe - I got exactly what I asked for...
I got to meet the sweetest farmers, food producers and entrepreneurs. I got to take an idea and bring it to market. I got invited to swanky food events and even got filmed for The Cooking Channel! I got to put jojo's sriracha in the highest quality specialty food stores I know of and collaborate on the coolest projects. I got a business that I was in love with and the drive to make it successful...
...I also got to face myself and all the things that were hindering me from fulfilling my greatest potential. I got a really great therapist who helped me deal with the death of my mom at 15 and show me all the ways that I screwed up my intimate relationships because of that trauma. I got to look at my wife's face when I told her I was unfaithful and that I was leaving. I got to move back in with my family for a year while I let the dust settle. I got to cry hard and learn how to hold myself. And I got to wake up one morning and decide that I could do what was truly in my heart. I had nothing left to lose.
I've always felt like I have three homes: California (where I grew up), New York (where I went to undergrad and later moved back and started my business) and Colorado (where I went to grad school and decided to give a fuck). I'm a firm believer that home is where the heart is. And I had left my heart in Denver. So I decided to lay all my cards on the table and jump. It felt like the quote I've never forgotten: leap and the net will appear. I jumped, and trusted that things would fall into place.
I've wanted a kitchen space to call my own since I started making sriracha and in Denver that dream is finally coming into fruition. We found the sweetest little space that will soon be love hard, inc. Denver headquarters. I know that this is just the beginning of so much awesome and I am so excited to share it with all of you.
On the personal side of things, I reconnected with the love of my life and we now share a beautiful home together. I wake up every morning next to someone who loves, supports and believes in me. And everyday I'm grateful I jumped.
I know that I wouldn't be where I am now without all the love and support I've received. Not just from friends and family, but from complete strangers. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
With deepest love and gratitude,
welcome to love hard, inc. May 20 2014, 4 Comments
Dearest Sriracha Freaks,
Welcome to Love Hard, Inc. - the new home of Jojo's Sriracha and former Love of Jojo, Inc.
Why the new name? When I named my company Love of Jojo, Inc. in 2012 it was just that - me making the sriracha I loved and sharing it with all of you. I made my first three batches of Jojo's Sriracha in the back of a deli the size of a small closet. Those batches made about 150 jars and it took forever.
When I found a shared kitchen space that was much bigger, I relied on the help of family and friends who donated their time and energy to help production keep moving. They lugged jars up and down stairs and packed online orders in my studio apartment. I would then wheel those orders to the post office in the same granny cart I used to pick up peppers with at the Union Square Farmers Market.
When it was time to ramp up production, I didn't have the money for the industrial blender I needed, so I turned to my community for help. Together, we crowdfunded $4,430. I didn't have a website, but everyone helped share the love on our facebook page.
As an entrepreneur and general go-getter, it's easy to feel like I have to do everything on my own. Except growing your dream alone sucks. The real joy is sharing the journey with others and learning how to ask for help. This month we will produce over 2000 jars, but I won't do it alone. I'll have my first employee (who also happens to be my little sister) right by my side. She fills jars more precisely than I ever did and makes sure no batch is too seedy. Maybe even more importantly, we make breakfast and lunch together in the kitchen and never hesitate to have a dance party when just the right song comes on.
My company isn’t just about me – it’s about all the people who give their time, talent and energy to create something that we otherwise couldn’t make on our own. We stick to our guns and never release a product unless we’re absolutely in love with it first. Because that’s really the point. Love Hard.
We couldn’t be happier to show off our new website and online store. And if that wasn’t enough, we’re also introducing two new products: zinfandel and petite sirah sriracha infused with Ravenswood wines. We’re totally in love and we hope you will be too…