Samotria “Sam” Holmes was strolling through Lowes Foods four years ago with her mother, the two of them discussing what her future would hold. Holmes felt as if she were in limbo. She’d recently left ScanSource after 10 years, having worked her way from a sales rep to national sales manager, and was now working at local a startup while she figured out her next move.
“I’d worked my entire career to help other people bring their dreams to life,” Holmes said. “But what about mine?”
Her mother said, “Well, what about your caramel sauce?”
It wasn’t exactly the kind of advice Holmes was seeking. She’d spent years baking and making candy and dessert sauce recipes but that was only a hobby, not a career.
“Right as I told my mom that, I got distracted and I ran my grocery cart into a shelf, and right at eye-level I saw a locally-made caramel from North Carolina,” Holmes said. “I told myself, ‘Well, if there’s room for this here, then maybe there’s room for me, too.’”
Four years later, Holmes’ sweet cream caramel sauce is available in the exact same aisle of the Lowes Food where she once looked for answers.
Holmes Sweet Home, the dessert and candy company Holmes founded with a focus on using only whole and natural ingredients, began in 2017 as a little stand at the indoor farmers market inside Brewery 85 on Whitlee Court in Greenville. It’s since become a thriving company with a range of brittles and sauces available for retail purchase at grocery stores including Lowes Food and Swamp Rabbit Cafe.
But that only encompasses about 20% of Holmes’ business. The bulk of the company’s revenue comes from sales to more than 30 businesses across the country, from bakeries to coffee shops to candymakers.
“I work with a lot of coffee roasters who can tell you the name of the farm where they get their beans, the name of the roaster, the exact climate the beans grow in,” Holmes said. “But then they weren’t able to tell you what’s in that caramel syrup they use along with that great coffee, or what’s in that chocolate sauce, or even what percentage is actually real chocolate.”
Her career in sales taught Holmes how to tell the story behind her own product. It’s also opened up her eyes to different revenue streams. She remembered the team-building exercises from her corporate days that involved craft cocktail kits. Why not market a product that fits that same need but is family-friendly and accessible to those who don’t drink alcohol?
Hence, she created dessert-making kits for brittle, brownies and more, selling more than a thousand kits last holiday season, alone.
“The work I did at ScanSource, I realize now, really primed the pump for everything I’m doing now,” Holmes said. “Look, caramel is not on the top of mind for a lot of people, so you have to build those relationships. And seeing people’s faces when they try the caramel or the brittle for the first time, it’s so fulfilling. I didn’t realize I’d been looking for that all this time.”
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