Vol. 127 - NO. 39

Blog Startup CPG

SINCE 2019

Founder Friday Feature:
Brasmyne Holmes of Tiger Life

How Tiger Life is Empowering Modern Cooks to Get Back in the Kitchen

Brasmyne Holmes grew up in the kitchen with her mom and grandmother. She explains, “They were always cooking, and there was so much joy in feeding our family.” So when Brasmyne decided it was time to create her brand, she says, “I wanted to come up with a product that honored the women in my family and their legacies and style of cooking.”

Beyond her personal experience, Brasmyne has also worked in the food and beverage industry in a variety of roles throughout her career. “One of my jobs was running the kitchen at the State Farm arena. I had to season about 3,500 pounds of protein, so I created these massive seasoning blends.” With this experience, Brasmyne thought, “What if I created seasoning blends for the home cook?” And Tiger Life was born.

Developing spice blends that honor her family’s recipes

Brasmyne launched Tiger Life with what she calls “The OG series,” which includes three spice blends that represent a recipe from Brasmyne’s Mom, Grandmother, or herself.  “We started with Southern Collards, which is my Grandma’s recipe. Then Kick Ass Chili, which is my mom’s recipe for chili, and finally, Chicken Soup, which is my recipe.” To develop Tiger Life’s blends, Brasmyne says, “took a lot of trial and error trying to get the flavors right.”

Without any written down recipes in front of her, Brasmyne had to largely go off instincts. “I trust my tongue,” Brasmyne explains. “I love the flavors of these dishes, and food is nostalgic for me. So I’m very good at replicating flavors, but not just the flavors — also the feeling behind them. I went with my gut and taste buds and finally nailed it.  I know this is what my grandma’s collards taste like.”

After Brasmyne launched Tiger Life with a series representing the matriarchs of her family, her Dad was quick to jump in. “My Dad said, ‘Wait a minute, I need something for the grill.’ So we created the smoke series with four different seasonings that are perfect for grilling.”

Brasmyne prides herself on Tiger Life’s ingredient transparency in an industry that is notorious for its opacity. “All of our ingredients are on the back of every jar. I wanted people to know exactly what they were putting in their food.” Brasmyne was also intentional about the size and shape of the vessels her spice blends are stored in. Instead of the typical spice shaker, Tiger Life uses an open-mouth jar. “Light and moisture are the two of the biggest enemies of seasonings. So if you’re cooking and you’re shaking your seasonings over top of the food, steam will get into the jar, causing the spices to clump up and shortening their shelf life.” Another reason Brasmyne went with the open-mouth jar stems from her background in professional kitchens. “We never used the shaker for seasonings — you season from the clouds. I wanted to use an open-mouth jar to inspire people to be more in touch with their food.”

Demystifying cooking for her customers

Brasmyne says, “I think there’s a huge opportunity right now with social media that a lot of the bigger companies might miss out. You can go on my page, see me and my family, and put a face to the brand. I talk to my customers all the time in DMs, and I do a lot of polls in my stories.” Brasmyne is clear that her messaging on Instagram is not merely about sales. “It’s about educating my customers, not just telling them to buy my seasonings. A lot of people can be intimidated by cooking…so that’s where I come in. I’m here just to help make the cooking experience easier. Whether it’s with the seasoning blends or me telling you how to chop an onion on my Instagram. My goal is to help people feel confident that they can cook like their mom used to.”

Beyond Instagram, Brasmyne also has a Tiger Life newsletter where she sends out recipes, cooking tips, and discounts and does frequent pop-up events where she cooks with her seasonings. For those who can’t make it to a pop-up, Brasmyne also offers digital recipe cards for each seasoning so people can learn how to make the associated dish. That said, Brasmyne also encourages experimentation with Tiger Life’s blends. “I share other ways to use the seasonings because they’re so versatile. When I came up with the names I wanted to get people to start salivating about the meals they’re going to create. But there are so many other ways to use the seasonings that go beyond their namesake dish.”

Customers can shop for Tiger Life via their website, but they also recently launched their first retail location at The Sistah Shop in Atlanta, GA. Brasmyne is looking to bring Tiger Life to other specialty retail stores and online retailers. “I applied to FAIRE so I’m crossing my fingers. I’ve been on a waitlist for a little while, but I am also looking at other online marketplaces to continue to grow my reach.”

“Down the line,” she explains, “the goal is to get into mass retail, so I’m trying to work out all the kinks in smaller retailers, looking at what’s going to sell the best and fine-tuning all the details.  Hopefully, within a year or two we’ll start getting into mass retail.”

Leaving her 9-5

Up until this year, Brasmyne was still working a full-time job while building Tiger Life on the side. When she finally decided to leave her nine-to-five, she says, “It was one the toughest decisions I had to make because it felt like I was starting all over again. But it has also been the biggest blessing because now it’s up to me to make or break it.” Shortly after Brasmyne left her 9-5, she was accepted into the Target accelerator program.“It was the first thing I did after I left my job, so I just thought, ‘Okay, I’m doing exactly what I’m supposed to be doing.”

The Target Accelerator program “was an amazing and completely invaluable opportunity,” she says.  Her biggest takeaway? “To take advantage of every opportunity they give you. There are so many opportunities in their program and you can never have too many mentors…especially for someone like me who was not in a CPG space before.” Later in the year, Brasmyne returned to Target’s Accelerator Program as an alumni mentor. She says, “It was a truly amazing experience to return the favor and share my expertise with other founders.”

Brasmyne’s advice to fellow CPG founders

“Do your research and get a mentor. Google was my best friend starting. One of the first things I did when I was starting was to get a business mentor through the Small Business Association.” Having a mentor, Brasmyne says, was instrumental. “I’ve never worked in CPG before, and I’m also the first person in my family to start my own business. I think you can never have too many mentors and you can never have too many people to ask questions. Even joining groups like Startup CPG and surrounding yourself with people who are doing what you’re doing makes this sometimes challenging business a little easier.”

Brasmyne hopes that her efforts with Tiger Life will pay off for future generations. “I know a lot of people talk about building generational wealth, but I think there’s power in building generational knowledge as well. I want to be a beacon of hope to my little cousins. They’re all growing up, which is crazy because I used to change their diapers. I want them to have a resource in me if they choose to become small business owners. I can go through this process and figure everything out on my own, making mistakes and learning as I go, and hopefully, I can make life easier for [my cousins] down the road.”

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