Nikki Guerrero started Hot Mama Salsa in 2009, making small batch salsa that she sold at Cherry Sprout Produce and 2 local farmers markets, including the St. Johns Farmers Market. Nikki wanted to become a vendor at the St. Johns market, which was in its 2nd year of business when she joined, because it was independently run and community driven. She saw that this meant that vendors got more individual attention and support, which especially helps emerging vendors get a strong foundation in the community. Nikki explains “You really are developing that clientele because you’re getting the community to regularly come shop, so it’s a community investment. It’s great for building a business because then you have built in taste testers...that’s great feedback for a new company”. It’s not just relationships with customers that grew from participation in the St. Johns Farmers Market. Nikki met her main chile farmer, Morgan’s Landing Farms, in the first years at the market and continues to source from other farmers that she met at the market in those first years.
Nikki says that one of the most unique aspects of the St. Johns Farmers Market, aside from it being a neighborhood focused market, is the unique location in the plaza .“That’s what’s so great about that space. It’s like the Zocolo of St. Johns, which a lot of other neighborhoods don’t have. That plaza meeting space is so great.” This community gathering space has been bringing neighbors together for the last 10 years of the market and we plan to keep it going strong.
Nikki’s business has grown to include numerous farmers markets, wholesale distribution to local grocery stores including New Seasons Market and restaurant partnerships. She explains that the future of Hot Mama Salsa includes the expansion of shelf stable hot sauces and chili oils for the national market, as well as more education including cooking classes and pepper education!
We’re proud to have been a part of watching Hot Mama Salsa’s growth and success over the past 9 years and we’re thrilled that each week we get to try those delicious salsas and hot sauces, fresh out of the kitchen, at the St. Johns Farmers Market. How lucky are we? The feeling is mutual, as Nikki explains “I have felt huge support for what we are doing and a really long term steady customer base. St. Johns has been our community. Part of why we’re doing this and working with our local farm community is because we’re trying to create community. Being a part of the farmers market is a huge part of that”.
Help us nourish our neighborhood by supporting the 10 year anniversary of the St. Johns Farmers Market with a donation and by showing up each Saturday to support our local vendors, like Hot Mama Salsa. As Nikki says, “We need to support small community in our growing, expanding ever-changing community. We need to support that small town feel that we still have in St. Johns”. Donate today and join us each Saturday in the St. Johns Plaza from 9 am-2 pm through October 29th.