When entrepreneur Kelly West started Mimi’s Gourmet Pasta Sauce, Inc. in 2010, she never dreamed it would one day be sitting on grocery store shelves next to other big brand sauces like Prego, Ragu, and Newman’s Own.
Eleven years later and West, an Evansville native with a degree in marketing, has expanded locally and statewide to stores in Indianapolis and Owensboro, Kentucky, and is quickly growing in other markets. She is now focused solely on her business after many years waitressing and running a cookie route.
The idea for the sauce was inspired by her mother, who her children called “Mimi.” West’s recipe calls for ingredients such as pineapple juice, carrots, and other spices added to traditional tomato sauce to create the sweet and spicy pasta sauce. She works with co-packer Big “B” Barbeque of Evansville to manufacture and distribute her product. It’s a perfect complement to dishes like sloppy joes, slow cooked chili, and meatloaf.
“It’s a unique flavor,” she says. “I feel like most entrepreneurs say this but there’s really nothing like it on the market.”
The sauce has had a home on local grocery stores’ shelves for 11 years. It currently is available in 13 local locations including Schnucks, Walmart, Old Fashioned Butcher Shoppe, Dewig’s Meats, and Opie & Eleanor’s Boutique. She hopes to someday be in stores nationwide.
When it comes to the busines side, West continues to manage the company she created and developed by herself, though she lets her daughter Alexis Wheeler handle the social media channels. She also is a member of Indiana Grown, an organization that creates connections between farmers and consumers by promoting all forms of agriculture that are packaged, raised, processed, and grown within the state.
Through the COVID-19 pandemic, West was unable to continue her in-store demonstrations, something she consistently offered at several local spots. She, like many businesses, has experience delays with supplies. But overall, her customers have stayed true and sales remained consistent through 2020.
“I really appreciate all the support from our customers,” says West. “Every comment, phone call, or email I receive just means so much to me.”