By Heather Lusk
Six years ago Hoosier Momma’s Bloody Mary mix was sold in jars at local farmers markets. Now, the ladies who created it are about to sell their one-millionth bottle and will soon launch a margarita mix and an updated website.
It has already been a busy time for the nationally-recognized brand. In August, while introducing a Sriracha Bloody Mary Maker, the company changed its packaging to glass bottles.
“I call this our big girl look,” said KC Cranfill, a Zionsville resident and co-founder of Hoosier Momma. “We went from Ball jars to a plastic bottle to this.”
The road to creating the popular drink mix began with a shift in the economy. Cranfill and her business partner, Katherine Hill, had been selling children’s clothing on Ebay and Amazon. Then, as the economy began to decline in early 2010, they decided to switch gears to find another business opportunity.
“We say children’s clothing is what drove us to drink,” Cranfill said.
After some research, they discovered that craft cocktails were gaining popularity.
“Everything was changing except the cocktail industry,” Cranfill said.
They experimented with multiple varieties of drink mixes before landing on their Original Bloody Mary Maker.
“We really got a grassroots following,” Cranfill said.
By the fall of 2010, they had landed a distributor and soon began selling their product to local restaurants and Marsh Supermarkets. When orders exceeded what they were able to produce for weekly markets, they switched to exclusively store sales.
Cranfill and Hill said the entire process has been a major learning curve. They had to learn about production, manufacturing and more from the ground up. Their lessons began early in the process, adhering labels by hand when the manufacturer didn’t have a label machine.
“We were literally buying the ingredients, renting a truck and driving up to the plant,” she said. “We couldn’t have the stuff distributed fast enough.”
Hoosier Momma is distributed primarily in the northeast and mid-United States, and more recently, the United Kingdom. European interest began with the Sriracha mix, for which they adapted the label from ounces, changed the spelling of words such as “flavour,” and adhered to the European Nutritional Label. “I wanted it to look like a product that was meant for European production,” said Cranfill.
Sticking to fresh ingredients is important to Hoosier Mama, using as many local ingredients as they can.
“We try to make it so it’s clean as can be,” she said, “All natural ingredients like you made it yourself.”
The alcohol-free products are vegan and gluten-free with no high-fructose corn syrup.
They will soon be updating their website, hoosiermomma.com, for better e-commerce sales where they will once again offer a salt rimmer created years ago but discontinued. The site will offer the ability to purchase individual bottles and a wider range of products.
Next in line is a margarita mix that should launch in May. They are in the midst of finalizing the shelf life test for two mixes: Classic Lime Margarita and Blood Orange Margarita.
“One of the things that I love about our mix is that it mixes very well with a lot of different spirits,” Cranfill said. “Our original mix goes very well with bourbon” as well as vodka and gin, she said. It also is an unexpected cooking ingredient for chili, meatloaf, casseroles or chicken.
Crafilll said she often hears the comment, “I didn’t think I like Bloody Mary’s, but I like this.”
“That’s always our biggest compliment,” she said.
They match their product with many other local businesses including Indiana Pickle Company, Two Sister’s Salsa and Just Pop In with a Bloody Mary flavored popcorn.
In 2013, the company the won the People’s Choice Award at the Highwood Chicago Bloody Mary Festival and Best Hot Specialty at Jungle Jim’s Weekend of Fire in Cincinnati. Past accolades have included Best Beverage and Best of the Best at the Indianapolis Zoo Zoobilation.
“At the end of the day, we’re still a small business,” she said. “We always say small controlled growth.”
“Don’t bite off more than you can swallow,” she added with a smile.
Meet KC Cranfill
KC Cranfill moved to Zionsville in 1999 and lives here with her husband Mark, 13 year-old son Cole and 10 year-old daughter Chloe.
Favorite restaurant: Noah Grant’s for crab leg Wednesday, Salty Cowboy for margaritas, Cobblestone Grill for the music in the bar, The Friendly for an evening without kids, Stone Creek for their kid’s menu, The Loft for the cheese board, Ciao for Italian, Carolina Grill’s fried green beans and the soon to be open Rush on Main because they are going to have a rocking’ Hoosier Momma Bloody Mary bar!
Favorite vacation spot: Hilton Head, Captiva Island and Disney World
Favorite pastime: Sporting events, anything from the Colts to the Indians to IMS and everything in between
Favorite book: “‘The Joy of Cooking’ Ha! My friends know I dial up take out.”
Favorite movie: “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”
Hoosier Momma Products
Hoosier Momma Bloody Mary Maker
Winner of the People’s Choice Award at the 2013 Highwood (Chicago) Bloody Mary Festival
Winner of the Best of the Best 2010 Indianapolis Zoo Zoobilation competition
Hoosier Momma Spicy Bloody Mary Maker
People’s Choice Award at the 2013 Highwood (Chicago) Bloody Mary Festival
Hoosier Momma Sriracha Bloody Mary Maker
New for summer 2015