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Sara and Sean O'Brien of Greer land OB's Hot Sauce on shelf at Lowes Foods

By Jim Fair, Editor
Published on Thursday, September 22, 2016

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Sara and Sean O'Brien will have their OB’s Irie Pepper Sauce and Marinade debut at Lowes Foods Friday.
 
 
 

Submitted

Sara and Sean O'Brien will have their OB’s Irie Pepper Sauce and Marinade debut at Lowes Foods Friday.

 

 

 



Enlarge photo

OB’s Irie Pepper Sauce and Marinade is shown on the far left on the second from bottom shelf. 
 

Jim Fair

OB’s Irie Pepper Sauce and Marinade is shown on the far left on the second from bottom shelf. 

 



Enlarge photo

There are seven categories of peppers, all home grown, by Sara and Sean O'Brien for their hot sauce.
 

Submitted

There are seven categories of peppers, all home grown, by Sara and Sean O'Brien for their hot sauce.

 



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The homemade pepper house.
 

Submitted

The homemade pepper house.

 



A romantic proposal in Hawaii turned into a hot pepper sauce business marriage for a Greer couple.

As Sara O’Brien explained, during their celebratory announcement, she and her then fiancé, Sean, “were watching a news show and saw a story on a sauce, something like a barbecue flavor, looked at each other and thought, ‘hello’ we can turn our sauce into a business.”

They had brought bottles of their sauce to Hawaii by popular demand.

OB’s Irie Pepper Sauce and Marinade is the lone Greer product that made the cut to be marketed at Lowes Foods at Riverside Commons.

The store opens Friday at 5 p.m. with a ribbon cutting and Sean and Sara will be there. "It's going to be exciting watching from a distance to see customers checking out our hot sauce," Sara said.

Their hot sauce will also be on display at the store’s community table, with other hyperlocal products from greater Greer. A display near the front of the store features their hot sauce with a photo and short biography.

The name is derived from OB for O’Brien, Irie is a Jamaican term meaning “feeling good” and pepper sauce is because of its wide use and taste that creates the heat. Sara said that the sauce is also used in marinating meat.

Lowes found their product through its search on the South Carolina Certified database, according to Sara. “Our product has that sticker on it and they found us through our website and invited us to the vendor fair,” Sara said.

Lowes claims more than 200 local vendors representing the region of the stores’ market reach.

OB's Irie Pepper Sauce and Marinade had already been well received throughout the world, Sara said. “We were getting great responses from ‘Pepperheads’ and shipped the product worldwide.”

Sean had grown up eating the pepper hot sauce made by his grandmother, by memory, when he was in Trinidad and Tobago. In fact, it is that recipe that has been tweaked over the years and put into a scientific formula meeting all government standards.

The peppers are home grown. “We have a house with a yard big enough to grow at least seven categories of peppers,” Sara said. “I only wish we had summer year round.”

A  chef used the hot sauce and suggested to add marinade to the product’s description, Sara said.

Hot sauced are a sizzling market and is now being used in chocolates and beer.

It took five years to perfect the OB’s hot sauce. The O’Briens have offered it for retail through their website, family and friends.

Becoming food entrepreneurs certainly doesn’t fit Sean and Sara’s professions. But Sara described how their job“I was a wardrobe stylist mostly with kids toys and a dancer for fifteen years,” Sara said. “I danced in theaters and productions.”

Sean is a carpenter and built a kitchen specific for producing the hot pepper sauce, bottling and labeling. Sara, meanwhile, took a class online at the University of North Carolina to learn about packaging and marketing the product.

A graphic artist drew the design featuring the tropical feel and the Trinidad and Tobago flags.

The O’Briens also welcomed a son, Reef, in the past year.

Sara may be a testimonial for OB’s Irie Pepper Sauce as an aid during pregnancy. “I ate it all the time when I was pregnant. Maybe there will be something to Reef being the healthiest baby,” Sara said with a laugh.

“It’s all been like a roller coaster,” Sara said. “It’s like you reach the highest hill before you go down and you have butterflies. We really believe we have a good product and look at this as our retirement.”

The toughest decision for the O’Briens may be limiting the hot sauce to the same people that enjoyed it free through the years.

Family and friends may now need to get their OB’s Irie Pepper Sauce fix at the grocery store. After all, every bottle given away free would be bad for business.

 

 

 

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