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Getting Your Recipe to Market Client Success Story: Tân Tân Foods

Posted by PCC Small Business Development Center on February 11, 2021

 

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Lisa Tran and her family have been in the restaurant business for at least 3 generations. When she

became a mother to twins a few years ago she realized she was going to have to do things differently. That's when she found the Small Business Development Center's "Getting Your Recipe to Market" program and began bottling the family sauces. This is her story.

Lisa, thank you for joining us today. Tell us about Tân Tân Foods My family has owned and operated a popular Vietnamese restaurant for over 20 years, so I was raised up around food most of my life.

My mother is the genius behind our food, evoking her own experiences and memories from her life in Vietnam. 

When I was a new mother of twins, I realized that the grueling restaurant schedule wasn't conducive to a harmonious personal life. Our customers had always asked us when we were going to start bottling our sauces. They were the encouragement behind trying to bring our sauces to market. I never thought that I would be doing this and feel like I'm still needing to be pinched that it's real!

I learned about the Getting Your Recipe to Market program through the SBDC office where I came across a flier somewhere, and ended up taking the program in the spring of 2016. That helped us get started!

Lisa Tran and parents

What were some of the key learnings you got from the program?  I think the better question would be, "what didn't I learn from GYRM?" Everything from the first day of class has built the solid foundation on which my products and subsequent business has been built upon. The mentorship and networking opportunities have been invaluable!

What were your initial business goals, and what are your current goals? Honestly, I didn't have any business goals coming into GYRM. I didn't even know what potential this crazy idea had! The connection we made to New Seasons Market through the program led to other retail opportunities. Currently, we are in close to 400 stores, the bulk of which are the Safeways and Albertsons in Oregon, Washington and Northern California. I am hoping to expand into more retailers and build up my direct online sales.

What surprised you most about the program? I am surprised that I am where I am in such a relatively short amount of time! I am constantly surprised that the sauces are selling, not because I don't have confidence in our flavors, but because these are a line of sauces that I brought to market and can be physically found on a shelf in a store somewhere!

I feel like I am and will always be evolving as a Food Entrepreneur. I'm no longer a "new brand" to the local region here and I've settled into a more of a mentor/cheerleader for the newer brands, but I am and will always be open to learn and grow. My current business goals are to increase distribution and explore markets outside of the PNW.

How have you dealt with the  COVID-19 restrictions and shut downs? 
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The COVID-19 restrictions essentially shut down our in store demo program which I found so valuable. These were my big opportunities to share our family's story and sauces directly to customers. With the COVID-19 restrictions in place I wasn't able to continue these valuable conversations. However, the bright spot is that it has allowed me more time to focus on ways to collaborate with our local food entrepreneur community through digital marketing campaigns! In a way, the restrictions have strengthened our amazing food and beverage community and I'm so incredibly grateful for the support and optimism of this wonderful group. We really are stronger together!

Have you won any recognition or awards for your product? Yes! We've been written up in Eater Portland, Portland Monthly, Whalebone Magazine, and have been featured on local news and by Christopher Kimball's Milk Street. Recognition is nice, but good feedback and the friendships formed from these sauces is what really means the most to me.

Anything else you’d like to share about your business or people that inspired you? Tan Tan means "new beginnings" and that is exactly what this journey is all about! I'm proud that Tn Tn Foods is a woman/immigrant/refugee/BIPOC-owned brand. My family's story is not a unique one among the Vietnamese Boat People, but it's often a story that isn't shared due to the trauma we experienced. I am proud of my heritage and culture and warmly welcome those to taste our products and join me on this New Beginning!

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SBA logoBusiness-Oregon-logoPrograms and services are provided to the public on a non-discriminatory basis. Language assistance service are available for limited English proficient individuals. Reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities will be made if requested at least two weeks in advance. Please contact us at 971-722-5080 or sbdc@pcc.edu, to request accommodations. Oregon Small Business Development Centers are funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration, and the Oregon Business Development Department.

The Oregon Small Business Development Center Portland Community College has  helped thousands of businesses over the past 30 years. We combine one-on-one  advising with programs taught by business experts, giving our clients the  resources they need to grow their businesses. We’ve celebrated many successes  with our clients. We'd love to celebrate your success. 

Topics: Small Business, Business Profiles, Food, Getting Your Recipe to Market, #restaurant

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