Kansas City couple starts sauce company after being laid off during COVID-19 pandemic

Posted at 9:26 PM, Feb 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-12 23:50:38-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The pandemic altered everyone's lives one way or another, but one Kansas City couple turned the adversity into an opportunity.

Courtney Hall and Cruz Barnas worked in the live entertainment industry for years in production before being laid off at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"It was so unexpected and out of nowhere," Hall said.

Barnas added, "They had to make a wave of second cuts and that’s when I went."

The couple met working in the entertainment field, but quickly faced an uncertain future amid shutdown orders and gathering restrictions.

"At first, it was staring at each other just wondering what we were going to do," Hall said.

To help make ends meet, the couple went to Nebraska to help Barnas' parents renovate a house for a few months and wondered "is this really what our life is like now?" Hall said.

After returning to Kansas City, the couple started a garden outside their home, learned the fermentation process from videos on YouTube and created a homemade sauce company, Barnasty Ferments.

Hall and Barnas sell sauce with names like Buck Nasty, Honey Don't, Dirty Dill, Ferda Verde, Super Soft Sauce, Sweet Nasty and the Never Ending Wipe.

The couple started by giving samples to friends and family and it was a hit.

"I never thought in a thousand years I would be in the hot sauce business," Hall said. "One night, Cruz and I were sitting at the table and I was like, ‘Let’s just do it,’ like 'Let’s just sell it because everybody likes it.'"

The sauces have been on sale twice and both times the stock sold out in less than 90 minutes.

"That was really surreal when we sold out that fast on the first go with zero money in marketing or anything like that, so that was fun," Hall said.

It's the spice of life this couple needed — being entrepreneurs, trying something new and enjoying the taste of success.

"I kind of figured out something that I actually enjoy doing," Hall said.

The couple hopes to turn their hot sauce into a full-time business and place to have their next batch ready for sale on Wednesday.

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