UMGC Alumnus Launches Business with Young Son

When UMGC alumnus Jason Kuhn ’20 was furloughed at the start of the COVID-19 lockdown and his young son Logan was home e-learning, they decided to launch a business.

Kuhn and 11-year-old Logan transformed their love of cooking together and gardening into LJ Sauce Company. LJ Sauce Company sells hot sauces, and $1 of every hot sauce purchase is donated to charity.

“We grow all our own peppers, and right now we have about 28 pepper plants out in the backyard,” Kuhn explained. “Anything from jalapenos, serrano, and banana peppers all the way up to Trinidad Scorpion Butch T and Carolina Reaper.”

From a young age, Logan loved learning about dinosaurs and drawing them. His role at LJ Sauces is watering the plants daily and designing labels for the bottles, which are named after dinosaurs. Examples include Raptors Revenge, T-Rex Tummy, Ankylosaurus Acid, Baryonyx Bourbon Blast, and Brachiosaurus Belly Bomb. LJ Sauces also has barbecue and garlic sauces, and T-Rex rubs are in the works.

“My favorite part was creating the labels. I got to color in pictures and name the dinosaurs,” Logan said. “We then uploaded them to the computer and created our label for the sauce. I also enjoy working the events and selling the sauce to customers. It is a great feeling when someone enjoys the sauce and makes the purchase.”

Logan’s dad is trying to teach him about return on investment, how much it costs to start a business and how to turn a profit and give to others. Charities supported by LJ Sauces include United Way, Action Against Hunger, Jacob’s Chance, which promotes autism awareness in North Carolina, and Pathfinders for Autism out of Hunt Valley, Maryland.

“We meet monthly and go over the numbers and I try to teach him more about the business aspect of it. For example, we had to take inventory out for this to be able to create a demo bottle, which means we have a profit-and-loss statement that we must start comparing and to show where our money is going,” Kuhn said. “And obviously, we have to know what the cost of the bottle is and what it costs to fill it up.”

Kuhn’s day job is working in sales for Tempur-Sealey International, which makes Tempur-Pedic mattresses. His part-time gig is managing JL Sauces with Logan. What makes JL Sauces successful? Kuhn points to skills he learned during the nonprofit marketing class, Marketing 314, he took at UMGC while studying for his bachelor’s degree in marketing.

“We discuss the operational side, the marketing side and touch on the history of nonprofits, and the students get inspired, often, to consider a career with a nonprofit organization after they’re finished the course,” said Eve Longlade, adjunct associate professor. “I get a lot of feedback that it’s now perhaps a career direction that they want to pursue.”

Longlade remembers teaching Kuhn. “He was excellent in his participation and the discussions in the course. In engaging with me and his classmates, he stood out,” she said.

She noted that the course inspired Kuhn to add a giving-back component to LJ Sauces.

“Without Professor Longlade’s class, I don’t think this would have started because I just wasn’t in the right frame of mind to start a business. Her class sparked something in me, and I was good to go,” Kuhn said. “The class opened my mind up to the endless possibilities of how to actually start the business and what marketing can provide to a business.”

Two years since starting LJ Sauces, Kuhn and Logan are developing new products, attending local pop-up events, and maintaining their web presence.