CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — In 2018, Alissa Peña started working full-time on her business, JalaPeña’s Salsa.
“If you would’ve told me ten years ago that I’d be selling salsa full-time, completely supporting myself, being able to take vacations on it, I would’ve told you you were crazy,” she said.
Peña was inspired to start selling salsa after making some to a Christmas posada at Radiology Associates.
“They asked me to sell some jars, I did, I sold out, realized I was probably on to something after the reaction I got, and it just kind of stemmed from there,” she said.
JalaPeña’s sells five different salsas: Salsa Verde, Chipotle Guajillo, Roasted Tomato, Creamy Habanero, and Prissy’s Original; named after Peña’s mother, Priscilla, and the original salsa that kicked-off the business.
“My family and I have been eating this our whole lives, and this is the salsa [my mom] needed gallons of for the posada and people loved it and she said, ‘alright, let’s keep going,’” she said.
2020 posed a challenge for Peña and her business.
“It was a complete standstill for us. I couldn’t do retail sales because everything was closed, I couldn’t come into the kitchen and cook, or produce anything, because everything was closed and I couldn’t get into a kitchen. Everything stopped, it literally became doing tiny little drop-off catering to people’s homes, on their front doorsteps, just to keep the lights on,” she said.
On top of deliveries, Peña would participate in small, pop-up markets to sell her product, which helped her continue to move her salsa.
“They were huge sales for local businesses, we just got a ton of business. People got to still support, still shop, and feel like we were still in the mix, but be really careful about it at the same time,” she said.
In fact, Peña said salsa sales are now so good, she does not need to continue providing catering. Several local stores sell her product, she is in talks to sell product in locations outside of Texas, and her website allows her to sell across the world.
“Business online has been getting me into international sales, which is huge. I’m shipping to Australia. A lot more local people are going to be carrying the product too, so I’m strictly salsa,” she said.
Peña sells salsa at Total Wine & More in Corpus Christi, San Antonio, and Austin, and also sells in locally-owned businesses, The Vine Juice Company, Gatherings/GiftBox, Wildflowers, and Jewels Clothing and Accessories. Online orders can be made on the JalaPeña’s website.
Peña is excited about her business’ growth, and excited for it to grow further.
“It’s just taken off, and taken off, and taken off. I’m just going to roll with it, keep working, keep my head down, stay in the kitchen, and see where it goes,” she said.