By Victor Ochieng
Ethan Holmes, a 21-year-old college student, is the founder and CEO of Holmes Mouthwatering Applesauce, a company that supplies all-natural applesauce across Cleveland. The applesauce is made from 100 percent farm fresh apples and is sold in original and cinnamon flavors.
Although it’s still a small company, it already supplies its products to 25 different stores located across Cleveland. The products are also available in Giant Eagle grocery stores.
Holmes Mouthwatering Applesauce is selling its snack in 16oz jars for $4.99 each. The company has registered gradual, yet steady growth and is currently targeting a sale of 2,000 jars every month. Just last year, the company sold between 1,500 and 2,000 jars for the whole year and grossed only around $8,000.
Holmes started the business when he was 15 years old. He was inspired by the story of businessman and author Farrah Gray, who had already made $1 million by the time he was 14. With the help of his grandfather, Holmes then developed an all-natural applesauce, knowing very well that most of the leading brands contain artificial sweeteners and preservatives.
The focus is to expand the business, meet customer demands, and increase their brand awareness. Holmes, together with his team, has been carrying out brand awareness campaigns through social media, events, giveaways, word of mouth, among other avenues.
Holmes’ relentless efforts are slowly paying off. He recently received a $10,000 loan to help him expand his business and cater to the growing demand. The loan was secured through a program by Samuel Adams Brewing the American Dream in partnership with Accion, a microlender company. The aim of the program is to provide capital and business training to small companies in the hospitality, food, and beverage industry across the U.S.
While many media outlets talk mainly of Holmes’ successes, the journey hasn’t been easy for him. He’s faced several challenges but has chosen to surge forward regardless. His first effort to raise money for Holmes Mouthwatering Applesauce through KickStarter failed miserably. At one point, he got an opportunity to make his brand known through an interview with Food Network, but the interview wasn’t shown because of a timing issue.
Nevertheless, Holmes says that these experiences have only worked to make him a better entrepreneur.
Interestingly, some of his fundraising efforts have yielded great results. In July of last year, Holmes Mouthwatering Applesauce managed to raise $2,274 through crowd-funding with IndieGoGo, beating their $1,500 target.
Because the company doesn’t have an adequate workforce, the young man relies heavily on student volunteers from within the locality to help him jar the applesauce.
Holmes is now focused on raising $100,000 to help him reach other markets and offer different product options.