Students from Dorsey High School in South Los Angeles have created a sauce that is proving popular with consumers across the nation. Since they came up with the idea of using volunteer teacher Neils Cotter’s avocado farm to create the relish, Dorsey Green Sauce has become a huge hit.
From Class Project to Full-Blown Business
Neils Cotter teaches an entrepreneurship class at Dorsey High School. In this class, he shows students how they can become entrepreneurs and teaches them the skills they need to run a business. However, teaching the principles of running a successful business to this cohort of around 30 students quickly transformed into leading a full-blown enterprise.
Once the students had drawn up initial plans for Dorsey Green Sauce, volunteer instructor Mel Nicola, the executive director of Culinary Arts Kids Eat (C.A.K.E), helped them hone their recipe. They created and tested 300 variations until they discovered the perfect ingredient combo.
The students then started selling the sauce in LA County. Now, they ship the sauce across the nation, selling thousands of bottles online and in person. All proceeds go directly to the students and the School’s culinary and business programs.
The students are now working on two more variations of the sauce, including a shelf-stable variation. They are also planning partnerships with local restaurants.
Marketing Support From Deutsch LA and Zazzle
Neils Cotter and Dorsey High School’s culinary teacher Sonja Briscoe enlisted additional support from the marketing agency Deutsch LA. Both members of the School’s advisory board, Neils Cotter and Sonja Briscoe introduce partners who can offer the children additional support. Together, they have secured around 10 partnerships that enable the School’s culinary program to thrive.
Sonja Briscoe explains that Neils Cotter “helped spread the word to the community about what Dorsey is doing, and with his background in business, he provided students with lessons and knowledge many don’t have.”
Pitching the marketing agency Deutsch LA, Neils Cotter explained that the students had created a signature sauce for Dorsey. The agency offered branding mentorship and creative direction to help students market the sauce. This mentorship and direction involved helping the students craft an impactful design for the sauce bottle.
After Deutsch LA gave the students an ad presentation on marketing the sauce, one student switched his college major so he could pursue a career in graphic design or video production.
Zazzle also stepped in to support the students, creating merchandise like hats and skateboards and even an online shop.
Launching At the Farmers Market in Atwater Village
The students first sold Dorsey Green Sauce to the public at the farmers market in Atwater Village. They brought around 100 12oz bottles, each priced at $10. A crowd soon formed, and they sold out on their first day.
Village Green Foods supported the students by providing bottles for the market. The organization has also taken students on a virtual tour of the factory, helped them tweak the sauce recipe, and helped them get the certifications needed to ship the sauce.
Praise From the “LA Eater”
Billed by the “LA Eater” as “damn good,” the avocado-based sauce is packed with ingredients like Persian cucumber, fresh garlic, spring onions, Italian parsley, oregano, dill, cilantro, and lime juice: “It’s an all-purpose flavor punch that can be slathered on just about anything.”
The “LA Eater” has included the sauce in its curated list of holiday gifts. This publication saw sales skyrocket, and the students had to cap orders at 1,000 bottles.
Opening Up Opportunities for Young People
The majority of the students at Dorsey High School live below the poverty line, and a significant percentage live in a group home or foster care. The School’s culinary program creates opportunities that help these students access fulfilling, financially stable careers in the food and beverage sector.
Students Juan Morales and Aniya Brown have described the experience of creating and bringing a sauce to market as “life-changing.” Juan Morales said: “Before I started the program, I felt like I didn’t have many options, but now I know there are countless opportunities for me in the culinary and business world.”
Dorsey Green has set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for Juan Morales and Aniya Brown to go to college. Neither has grown up with their parents, and they will be the first in their families to attend college.
About Neils Cotter
Neils Cotter is the founder of the Dorsey Green Foundation. His volunteer entrepreneurship classes provide young people with the skills and mindset they need to launch businesses or pursue business careers. On top of this, he is a member of the Board of Ronald McDonald. On this board, he supports the largest camp for children in the U.S. who have or have had cancer. He is also a real estate development and investment expert.