With a robust startup scene, incredible resources, and customers who love to buy local, Chattanooga is the perfect place for entrepreneurs to hit the ground running. What follows are just a few of the many incredible companies that have launched products in the Scenic City and seen incredible growth. Looking to the future, you can expect these enterprises to scale up and see continued success.
By Lucy Morris | Photography by Emily Long
Hoff & Pepper
Hoff & Pepper, which manufactures a range of hot sauces, a BBQ sauce, and a seasoning salt, has exploded since it opened in 2015. For the first two years, founders Aaron Hoffman and his wife Michelle (a.k.a. Pepper) worked nights and weekends to get the business off the ground. “It was hard but necessary to validate that we had a product that worked before deciding to invest more money in it,” Aaron explains. Today, a full-time staff of nine processes around 2,000 pounds of fresh chiles a week in the company’s manufacturing facility. With their products in more than 800 retail stores and triple-digit growth year-over-year, sights are set on scaling up and establishing further national and international distribution.
Alchemy Spice Company
Bayou Ya-Ya Cajun Blend
Alchemy Spice Company was founded in 2003 to offer customers an array of freshly ground spice blends. This past March, Henry Oehmig purchased the company, having been a longtime fan of the products. “Similar to your favorite local coffee, freshly ground spices have a much richer and vibrant flavor and fragrance, which heightens the taste and experience of any food dish,” he explains. In the past year, the company has experienced significant growth, and Oehmig is working to expand wholesale restaurant and retail distribution across the region. His ultimate goal is to develop Alchemy into a national consumer brand known for its fresh, flavorful blends.
Noke’s Artisanal Products
While running a catering business, Ryan and Luther Cutchins developed a granola blend that paired well with fruit and yogurt. But when tragedy struck in 2012 and Ryan passed away, Luther shuttered the business. Through his grief, Luther realized that they’d had a special product in their granola, and in 2014, he launched Noke’s Artisanal Products in his brother’s honor. Since then, the offerings have expanded, and people are noticing. In 2018, Southern Living awarded the brand a Food Award in the healthy snack category. “I want to make food that caters to outdoor enthusiasts and breakfast lovers alike,” says Luther. “Something that fits just as well on the kitchen counter as it does on the Appalachian Trail.”
Lavender Daily Hydrating Lotion with Aloe
In 2012, Cassandra Tucker started Divine Purity to offer customers an opportunity to approach their health and wellness holistically. Her products, which run the gamut from candles, lotions, skin balms, and more, are all natural, and many are multi-functional and work on both skin and hair. “We help reduce the amount of clutter in your shower, therefore reducing the number of bottles that end up in our landfills,” she explains. The growth of the company has been steady and organic over the last seven years, and looking to the future, Tucker has goals to open a complete wellness spa in Chattanooga that utilizes Divine Purity products.
Mint Tea Tree Castile Soap
When her son was born in 2013, Maria Domingo Dutton began noticing that the labels on major retailer products had so many ingredients she’d never heard of. After researching and learning more, she realized there was an opportunity to create her own product that was safe for anyone’s use. Thus, Domingo Soap was born. Today, using what she calls “the oldest soap formula out there,” Dutton offers organic, toxin-free, and sustainable products. “I hope to help make people aware of what products are out there – how products they might be using can actually harm the environment and harm your skin,” she says.
Lost Art Stationery
Monthly Subscription Box
(4 cards + postage)
For Chris Lykins, owner of Lost Art Stationery, the idea behind his company is simple: “We hope to share with others the importance of taking a moment to send someone a handwritten note,” he explains. As the name suggests, the act of writing and mailing personal correspondences has faded thanks to technology and busy schedules, but it’s worth renewing. Since establishing the business in 2015, Lykins has expanded his product line, (which now includes greeting cards, custom stationery, t-shirts, notebooks, mugs, and more), and his products are available in retail locations in Chattanooga, New York, Florida, and London.
Dr. Knows Best
Chill Pills CBD Dog Treats
Dr. Knows Best began in 2017 when Ben Whitelaw, creator of Barley Bones dog treats, set out to launch a brand of CBD products that could benefit both people and pets. CBD, or cannabidiol, is a chemical compound that’s found in hemp plants, and it’s said to offer a host of benefits. “Chill Pills contain CBD oil that is meant to help dogs with different forms of situational anxiety, from separation anxiety to fireworks, issues with car rides, and more,” Whitelaw explains. Since its launch, the brand has seen substantial growth, and he hopes to take it further with additional CBD products for humans and animals.
Laura Beth Michael Design
Pet Portrait Ornament
For Laura Michael, her business grew out of a desire to spend less time designing at the computer and more time working with her hands. Since launching in 2017, her business has grown significantly. While she creates, designs, and sells calendars, journals, cards and more, she spends the majority of her time painting custom orders. When it comes to laying roots in Chattanooga, this Nashville native says, “I’ve always felt that Chattanooga is a city that is big enough for opportunity but small enough to matter, especially in the realm of creativity and entrepreneurship. I’m thankful to live in a city that values that!”
Good Fortune Soap
Custom Dog Wash
Good Fortune Soap, which opened in 2006, is the brainchild of Jennifer Strain. “I wanted to create a business that focused on healthy ingredients, self-care, and hospitality,” she explains. With an emphasis on online and wholesale business, she developed recipes for natural soaps, lotions, body scrubs, and more. In 2014, Strain purchased a storefront on the Southside so she could create, sell, and ship from one location, which allowed her to expand her offerings. Today, in addition to the classic Good Fortune products, she also offers a variety of make-and-take, custom-scented products and spa services.
Miss Ginny’s English Toffee
Dark Chocolate English Toffee with Sea Salt
The recipe for Miss Ginny’s English Toffee has been perfected over the course of 30 years, though owner Ginny Royce didn’t officially launch the business until 2010 in Tallahassee, Florida. When the economy entered a recession, Royce recognized the opportunity to supplement her income by making toffee on a full-time basis. Upon the move to Chattanooga, she was able to start placing her product in local retail stores thanks to the support of artisan businesses. With no end in sight, Royce sees her company growing with additional confections. “My hope is to see one or both of my children continue to grow the company and eventually take it over,” she says.
Variety Chocolate Truffles
Ella Livingston began Cocoa Asante in 2018, sourcing premier ingredients from her home country of Ghana. The fresh cream used for her truffles, inspired by a Japanese chocolate called Nama, is designed to melt in your mouth. The company’s logo was developed from a Ghanaian symbol that means high quality or excellence in craftsmanship, and it serves as Livingston’s seal of trust to customers. With impressive aspirations for the future (eventually sourcing directly from her family’s cocoa farm in Ghana and opening a manufacturing facility and storefront), Livingston remains focused on experience. “I want customers to be able to see how their chocolate is made, from the cocoa bean to the chocolate product, before indulging in a variety of chocolate delights.”
80% Dark + Cocoa Nibs Chocolate Bar
Belle Chocolates was launched by Brendan Patrick in mid-2018 from his home kitchen. Over the span of just one year, the company has expanded from two initial offerings (a 70% dark bar and an 80% dark bar) to more than 20, and the brand is now available in 16 retail locations across the city. With a long-term goal of opening a brick-and-mortar standalone chocolate café, Patrick says Chattanooga has been a great place to start a company. “There is a fantastic energy brought on by makers of all kinds, all working to support and promote each other. Customers are becoming more and more aware of where their money goes, and they’re choosing to spend it locally, which creates a rich environment for small businesses to thrive.”
Chattanooga Whiskey Barrel 91
Through the “Vote Whiskey” campaign launched in 2011, Chattanooga Whiskey challenged longstanding prohibition-era laws and came out victorious, winning the right to distill whiskey in Chattanooga for the first time in over 100 years. Since then, the company has built two distilleries and launched its own style of straight bourbon whiskey known as Tennessee High Malt, which comes in two expressions – Chattanooga Whiskey 91 and CASK 111. “The August 2019 release of Chattanooga Whiskey 91 – 100% made in Chattanooga – is the culmination of all our efforts,” says Tim Piersant, founder and CEO of the brand. “It begins to fulfill our commitment to creating the best craft whiskey from Tennessee.”
Mixed Metal Works
In 2017, melding Kathy Petty’s love of art and James Petty’s welding skills, Mixed Metal Works was born. This husband and wife duo work together to turn sheets of flat, raw steel into dynamic décor representative of their pride in their Tennessee heritage. What started as a hobby grew into a full-time business, and the pair sees no end in sight. “Our goal is to expand to other locally owned shops in nearby cities,” Kathy explains. “We feel a connection with smaller and family-owned businesses and know how important it is to support each other.”
Chattanooga Beard Company
1838 Beard Oil
After years of working as a men’s hair stylist, Matt Patty started Chattanooga Beard Company in 2017 to solve the problems men face while growing beards. Developed to combat dry skin and brittle hair, the company offers both beard balms and oils. The brand has grown exponentially since launching, and Patty has hopes to represent Chattanooga on a national level soon. “We are growing daily, and Chattanooga is a perfect location for us to begin to build a community of bearded men.” CS