Sharon and Eric Graham decided to use a newfangled approach to launch a business of a more traditional sort. They used Kickstarter to fund their pickle-making business, Old Apple Hill Brine.
"We set the goal at $2,400. It seemed like a lot to ask for, but it skyrocketed. It was amazing how many people were interested in it," Eric Graham says.
Graham tapped into a like-minded crowd of pickle lovers, raising over $15,000.
"I grew up seeing pickle-making, so I've always been fascinated with the process of pickles," says Graham, a L'Ecole Culinaire graduate.
Because the Kickstarter campaign was successful, the Grahams had a lot of pickles to make to fufill the rewards of the backers — something they are still working on.
The biggest challenge, however, came from the federal government. More than six months after reaching their Kickstarter goal, the Grahams are working through FDA paperwork and requirements.
"I had to become a certified master briner with the FDA. There are a lot of forms to fill out, then you have to send pickle samples to the FDA. They examine your pickles, approve your label, and more," Graham says.
Things are moving forward, though there is still a lot left in the hands of the FDA.
"It took months to get through the process. We have 15 flavors, and we're still waiting on 10 flavors to be approved," Graham says.
The most popular flavor, and Graham's favorite, is Memphis Barbecue. Graham created a special spice blend and smokes the brine to impart a barbecue flavor. His creativity doesn't stop there either. Other flavors include Whiskey-Sour, Curry-Curry, New York Deli, HoneyHot, Italian Balsamic-Rosemary, the Tennessee Sorghum Pickle, and more.
Currently, Old Apple Hill Brine can be found at the Memphis Botanic Garden farmers market, the Cooper-Young Community Farmers Market, and Miss Cordelia's. The Grahams also have plans to expand into other grocery stores soon.
Old Apple Hill Brine pickles come in slices or spears at $10 for a 25.5-ounce jar.
Another pair is making pickles locally as well. Longtime friends Nora Boone and Steve Douglass started Fat Beagle Preserves and Pickles in 2011 and began selling their product through the Fat Beagle Facebook page in 2012.
"It was truly by accident. Steve and I are huge supporters of all the farmers markets. At the beginning, you would see the farmers there with produce left at the end of the day, and we said, 'We need to buy this so they'll come back,'" Boone says.
Supporting the markets had unintended consequences: an abundance of cucumbers.
"There are only so many cucumber salads you can eat, so we ended up pickling them. What started with just an idea to mess around with pickles and put up a few jars turned into 300 jars," Boone says.
Boone is Thai, and that heritage is seen in some of Fat Beagle's pickles. Both "The Angry Beagle" and "The Sweet Beagle" use Thai bird peppers, for instance.
"'The Sweet Beagle' is our Fat Beagle take on the traditional bread-and-butter/sweet pickle. It's not a crazy sweet dessert pickle. It's more of a spicy sweetish pickle," Boone says.
As for the name Fat Beagle, Boone explains:
"We both live in Central Gardens, and we were taking a walk one day. And there's a big fat beagle taking a walk with its owner. Although he's a lawyer, Steve has always wanted to be a musician. He can't play anything, and that gets in the way. He said, 'You know, if I had a band, I would call it Fat Beagle.' That was over four years ago. I said we've got to use that name somewhere, and when all this came about, I said, why not?"