It’s hard to believe another holiday season is upon us. What a year it’s been and what a crazy new reality we live in. In the frenzy of our busiest time of year, I want to pause and take a moment to acknowledge how far we’ve come, and the remarkable work of my small team of ten that has gotten us here despite the challenges of unprecedented global constraints.

In a short year we grew our team from one to ten, raised our first round of financing, launched on and became the top selling hot sauce on Amazon, entered hundreds of retail stores including Whole Foods, Wegmans, Target, and very soon Costco (!), and have launched multiple new products including a ten-year aged Black Vinegar, a fiery Hot Pot Base, and in two weeks, a VERY exciting new product that I can’t wait for you to try.

But we’ve also never faced more challenges as a small business. I’m sure by now you’ve seen the news plastered everywhere. Supply chains are a mess. There’s a shortage of products, shipping containers, dock workers and truck drivers. There are traffic jams at ports, ten fold increases on freight, surging costs across everything from fuel to corrugate to glass, and announcements of price increases from one company after another. When even McDonalds hikes their menu prices, you know that shit is getting real.

The reality of this brave new world is that smaller companies are severely disadvantaged. Large companies like Target and Walmart have the ability to charter their own shipping fleets. In contrast, the cost of shipping a container of Sichuan Chili Crisp from China to the US has risen by more than 10x, and that is if we’re lucky enough to even reserve one. Our 3rd party logistics company (the one who packs all your orders) can’t hire enough workers when Amazon’s warehouse across the street can afford to pay higher wages. The net effect is that some small companies will not survive, while large ones become even more powerful.

As we head into this season, please keep these dynamics in mind and support the small businesses that matter to you, from the corner store to your favorite neighborhood restaurant. Remember to plan ahead when shopping for gifts, allow for the possibility of unexpected issues and be kind to your mail carrier. If you’re looking for a gift to impress your flavor-loving friends with, check out our “Tis the Season(ing)” gift box full of my favorite Sichuan pantry essentials, or stuff their stockings with our best-selling Triple Threat, now 20% off when you buy three or more with code TRIPLETREAT.

May your tables be full and your food well seasoned. —Jing