Building a Hot Sauce Brand from the Ground Up

Co-Owner + Creative Director
Iowa Pepper Co.

creative brief

Iowa Pepper Co. is a passion project that my husband and I started in 2020. Our hot sauce journey started when we rented out a plot at a community garden and grew our first pepper plants. We now grow over 70 pepper plants in our backyard and we're on a mission to defy watered-down, slightly spicy vinegar sauce. I've had a lot of fun developing the brand over the last few years.


Making a Hot Sauce Brand Stand Out

When developing the branding for Iowa Pepper Co, I did some research looking at other craft hot sauce companies. I observed a trend of the same type of packaging, usually marketed in an aggressive, EAT THIS FIRE! kind of way. The hot sauce we make is definetly spicy, but that's not the whole story behind our brand. We are focused primarily on pairing complimentary, all natural flavors to balance out the heat, as well as locally sourcing most of our ingredients in Iowa. With this mind, I wanted to create an approachable, friendly, but also bold brand. I've created a unique illustration style that I can use to illustrate different ingredients on the labels, paired with big bold typography that stands out on social media.

Holiday Variety Pack 2022

Since 2021, we've created a special edition variety pack at the end of each year to market as a holiday gift box. In this box we have a mild, medium and super hot sauce. In each of the sauces we highlight a few of our favorite peppers we grew that year. This year, I designed a sleeve for the gift box with a custom brand illustration, along with a fun informational bi-fold that explains who we are, the sauces in the box and all of the peppers we grew in 2022. Attached to the bi-fold was a magnet that would come off and display a surprise message.

Selling our Sauce Online

I designed and created using Webflow. It was the first time I had created an ecommerce site so I learned a lot along the way! I pulled our bold typography and illustrative style into the overall look of the website. I designed the product images to be large, and really clean so it would be easy for the user to understand what was in the sauce as well as what the spice level was.

Spicy Swag

The hot sauce market has evolved within the last few years and part of the evolution includes a cult-like following of hot sauce brands. People don't just buy hot sauce for the the sauce, they also buy it because they love the brand. We love Iowa and hot sauce, so we wanted to create bold, unique products for Iowans and hot sauce lovers to rock. I've designed various merchandise including bike jerseys (which we represented at RAGBRAI), coffee mugs, magnets, stickers, hats, shirts and best of all: Our hot sauce stash fanny packs.

See more work.