A Letter From Our CEO
So who are we and how did we get here?
Well, how far back should we go?
On a crisp fall evening in Pennsylvania, Ryan and I met in college at.....just kidding!
But Ryan and I did meet in college, Penn State University. After graduating, Ryan went into the US Navy and I followed my dreams of modeling and acting. We reconnected a few years later and got married. We traveled all over the world through our careers but as far as I could remember, ever since I was a little girl, I always wanted my own business. Something I was so passionate about and proud to call my own. I suppose my father passed that gene onto me, as he's a successful entrepreneur himself.
Over the years I'd fill notebooks full of ideas. "Well since I'm already a model, doing jewelry or clothing or makeup would be a good segway" I'd think...but I just wasn't interested. Just because I liked modeling did not mean I was equally passionate about creating a clothing line, that my friends, is an entirely different beast. I thought "I don't know what I'll do but it will come to me eventually," so I continued on.
One day my grandmother, born and raised in Morvant, Trinidad, was over our family home in New York. She was a fairly big part of growing up for me until she moved. But needless to say, she always taught me how to make Trini dishes and I loved learning them. For some reason on this day, she made pepper sauce for the first time. And my first thought was...ew! I hated hot sauce! Over the years I tried all the popular ones. Friends loved it on pizza and other meals and I just couldn't get it. "My mouth hurts, I can't even taste my food!" I'd say. What in the world is the point of this stuff, I thought, no thanks.
So as we start eating, my dad, her son, starts pouring the pepper sauce all over his food and turns to me and says "Iman, try it, you should sell this!" Now full disclosure, my father as we already established is also an entrepreneur. So I can remember all the way back to my little girl days when he'd bought me a hand held sewing machine and told me I should start embellishing clothing and sell them. He was always telling me to sell something. "Uhhh, I don't know, fine I'll try it!" I said. Not expecting much, I tried a little bit and I lit up, woah! And wouldn't you know it, I even put it on my food! "It actually makes the food taste better!" I said and Grandma knowingly laughed. And in that moment, in my parent's kitchen, in the home I grew up in in New York, I knew. I knew that this was what I was going to finally turn into my own business.
So off we began. "Grandma teach me everything!" She took me to the store and showed me which peppers to get, insisted the papaya must be green, and eyeballed the amount of vinegar to put in the blender "a little more....ok that's good." And I made my first batch with Grandma in that same kitchen. I took pictures, I took notes and did my best to take measurements, you know Grandmas don't have numerical measurements for anything! Grandma and I tasted it and made sure it was right. Then after she flew back to her home, I made another batch on my own. I bought bottles (grandma taught me how to sanitize them), I bought stickers and I made my first bottled batch on my own. I knew I liked the sauce, but what if no one else did? I asked my dad to hand them out to his clients or anyone for free, I gave them out to some people as well. And to my pleasure, in poured the compliments. Everyone seemed to say the same things I said when I tried it. "It's delicious!" "My food tastes great with this!" And the most encouraging comment of all, "Can I have more?" I was set.
I started researching the market and the more detailed I got, the more I realized why haven't I seen this before? International flavors are often shoved in the single "Ethnic Aisle" in the grocery store. And when I would walk that one aisle I only ever found Jamaican items and Asian items...what about everyone else? I never saw Trinidad and Tobago represented in grocery stores at all. I had a gap to fill, one I was proud to fill. People often ask me; what made you want to do this? It's my family.
In order to sustain your own business, you need to have the passion and desire to want to put all your resources into it and want to do that for the long haul. Anyone who knows me knows I cannot fake it; if I don't like something you'll know. That's why none of my others ideas worked. I knew I just did not care enough to want to devote all my extra energy towards it forever. But this, this is all about my family and my culture. There's nothing I love more in this world than my family and where we come from. I'm so proud of our heritage. I know how incredibly delicious and soul soothing our food is. These flavors are some of the best parts of my upbringing and I want nothing more than to share that with all of you. Quite frankly, you've been missing out!
Something else that was a great bonus was that all our ingredients were super healthy. Fresh fruits, peppers, and vegetables, no added salt, just a pinch of sugar. I realized just how helpful this would be for people. Healthy eating has always been so important to us. So the fact that this checked all of the boxes of what we believe in made this even more exciting to bring to you.
Later, I sent Ryan an email, since that's all the communication we had while he was deployed for 7 months!! I said "Hey, I figured it out, I'm doing it! Will you help me?" And he said "I love it, let's do it!" We got all our ducks in a row and started selling to you in January 2020. I know, I know...we didn't know the world was about to fall apart but hey! We made it out!
The name We Are Wonderfully Made, LLC was something I thought long and hard about. Remember, I've spent years in the fashion industry being picked apart and watching what that constant judgement did to my peers and also myself. The truth is, I know how much people need to be reminded that they are loved. That it is in fact, our unique differences that make us all so special and interesting and lovable. I knew I wanted people to feel that when they came in contact with our brand and whether you bought our sauce or not, I wanted you to be reminded that you are wonderfully made.
In 2022, Ryan and I were excited to find out we were pregnant with our first child, our son; Andreas Darius Brown. After a simple pregnancy, I had a difficult labor which lead to an emergency c section. After waking up from anesthesia, I met my son for the first time. He was with Ryan and had been struggling. Shortly after his birth on March 7th 2023, he passed away on March 8th and just like that, who we are and our lives together were changed forever. As we continue to claw our way back to living life again, we want to share our beautiful son and incorporate him in all that we do going forward.
By now you've met our third flavor and you'll notice something new. On the back of the bottle labels you'll find a small blue and pink ribbon. This ribbon is the symbol for P.A.I.L. (pregnancy and infant loss) awareness. Losing a child is the worst thing any parent can go through for many, many reasons. But one of those reasons is the fact that full term loss and stillbirth still happen everyday, but no one talks about it. So when it happens to you, you feel severely and devastatingly alone. We don't want anyone to ever feel so alone, like we did.
I could write another novel telling you even more about who we are and all we've been through, but I'm just grateful you read this far. Although Grandma is no longer with us on earth, you get a piece of her with every bottle since our notable bottle label design is one of the pictures I took of her hands when we were making sauce together all those years back. I hope you've enjoyed getting to know us a little better and I know you'll love it here. It's our honor to bring a little piece of Trinidad and Tobago to your table.
For the love of family, friends, and flavor,