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Business Record innovationIOWA Weekly | October 15, 2020
Des Moines entrepreneur accepted through Walmart's Open Call
By Kate Hayden | Staff Writer
Lola's Fine Hot Sauce CEO Taufeek Shah and his mother and company namesake, Carmelita Shah. Photo contributed.
After Walmart’s annual Open Call pitch event, Des Moines-based Lola’s Fine Hot Sauce will be one of 175 small businesses to find itself on the shelves of the national retailer in early 2021, Walmart announced recently.

Lola’s Fine Hot Sauce already is carried in national chains such as Whole Foods, Costco, Target and restaurants through the U.S. and parts of Canada.

"I believe getting into Walmart will help us scale into more stores, because Walmart is an industry leader in terms of products they bring in," said CEO Taufeek Shah. "We’re a family recipe company, minority-owned. … We have a great all-natural family recipe that’s healthy, that’s full of flavor, and we’re the only generational family recipe that’s made right here in America."

The 4-year-old company is named after Shah’s mother, Carmelita Shah, a doctor and Filipino immigrant who developed the family hot sauce recipe that Taufeek grew up with. "Lola" means grandmother in the Filipino language Tagalog, and stuck with Carmelita after Taufeek and his sister began raising children.

"We’re really trying to grow our family brand, to get our products out there to the consumers because we have a great product, and we have a great story to tell," Shah said.

More than 800 small companies pitched during virtual 30-minute meetings with Walmart and Sam’s Club merchants. In addition to Walmart stores and Sam’s Clubs, platforms available to participants include, Walmart Marketplace and All participating businesses producing shelf-stable products were invited to sell their products on Walmart’s various online platforms.
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