From Hero To CEO With The Founder Of Mutt Sauce Charlynda Scales
No one lives forever but a well-tended legacy can endure for centuries. Charlynda Scales hails from a family rich with legacies and she is personally upholding them all.
Charlynda Ferrell Scales loved her grandfather Charlie. A veteran of the Korean and Vietnam Wars, Charlie “Mutt” Ferrell loved her right back, even as he demanded that she work for anything she received. She was not exempt from high expectations simply because she was a girl. Rather, it seemed as if there was more expected of her because she was a girl.
Charlynda laughs as she remembers her frustration as a young girl, seeing the boys in her family get allowances and cars while she earned money through chores and good grades. Her grandfather especially subscribed to this practice.
“He never gave anything to me,” Charlynda says, “and I’m like – that’s backwards- I’m the girl!”
Hers is a four-generation military family. This legacy is taken seriously, and each generation is expected to offer up at least one family member to uphold it. As the grandchildren began approaching the age of 18, her grandfather started the conversation about joining the military.
When her cousin enlisted in the Marines, Charlynda figured her generation had met its obligation. Even when an injury put an early end to his career, Charlynda assumed the pressure was still off.
“I was like – Well, he did it! Great effort And they were like- Nope! That doesn’t count!”
She was the next one up, and with one eye on academics and the other on her family legacy, Charlynda Scales found the perfect solution.
The Air Force ROTC program allowed her to earn her college degree on the military’s dime, and fulfill her duty obligation after. In 2004, Charlynda’s grandfather was the first person to salute her at her commissioning ceremony. Her voice softens and her eyes swell ever-so-subtly as she half whispers, “That’s a memory I’ll never forget.”
Her grandfather passed away about six months later.
She may have joined the Air Force out of a sense of duty to her family, but Charlynda attacked her military service as if it had been her plan all along. From a Deputy for the Air Force Small Arms Program, to C130 modification programs, she moved to a position as the program manager of the Air Force Firefighting Program. Then it was on to positions with the Security Force and other leadership roles, such as serving as the Commander’s Action Group Chief.
Before rounding out her 11 year career in Ohio, Charlynda had not only received valuable lessons in leadership and service, but she’d also received an unexpected and emotionally staggering gift.
Her grandfather had been passionate about his country, his family, and his prized special sauce. In 1956, after several years and hundreds of not-quite-perfect attempts, Charlie “Mutt” Ferrell announced he’d arrived at the perfect recipe for the sauce he knew was the answer to all condiment needs.
It irritated her grandfather to no end, to see the heaps of expired and wasted condiments in people’s fridges. That annoyance sparked him to tinker around with his own recipe for a one-size-fits-all sauce. His prized recipe became a family heirloom and was freely shared with the community. For his granddaughter Charlynda, who is allergic to peppers, Charlie always saved some pepper-free sauce, so she could enjoy the family treat with everyone else.
Her grandfather had willed lots of things to lots of family members, but Charlynda was the grandchild who had nothing given to her – or so she thought. Along with the mystery of why she’d been excluded was another mystery; What happened to her grandfather’s prized secret sauce recipe?
In 2013, both mysteries were solved when her mother produced the answers she’d been keeping secret for eight years. The unremarkable envelope her mother handed Charlynda revealed a remarkable truth; Not only had her grandfather left her something, after all, but he’d left her the one thing he treasured most – his original recipe, in his own handwriting.
“This is a lot,” she remembers thinking, “It was super overwhelming because this was everything to him, and he never gave me anything, and now he’s giving me something.”
Emotion pours out in her voice as she explains how her mother had been so worried about explaining this gift to all the people he’d passed over, that it took her all that time to come forward with it. Charlynda immediately grasped the magnitude of this legacy she’d been handed.
Both overwhelmed and humbled, Charlynda Scales knew she had to take this legacy and carry it on – in grand style.
While still on active duty, Charlynda laid the groundwork to share her grandfather’s sauce with the world. She utilized resources like SCORE which offers veterans and military members free business mentorship. She told them her granddaddy left her a recipe. She wanted to put it in a jar and name it after him. Her mentors translated her vision into a business plan for her; she was going to manufacture a tomato based product called Mutt’s Sauce.
Entrepreneurship was new to Charlynda, but she was undaunted by the challenge. As with earning her two college degrees and working her way up the ranks in the military, she attacked her new mission. Her first two orders of business were clear: tell her family of her gift, and file a business plan.
With her family’s support and an official business plan, Charlynda was now the CEO of Mutt’s Sauce, LLC. Her SCORE mentors advised her they would move, “at the speed of determination,” and Charlynda is as determined as they come.
She’d been saving for years to buy herself a BMW. But when faced with a need for business capital, she knew what she needed to do. “I boot-strapped my business with my BMW!” she laughs. Today she drives, “a paid-for- Honda.” She’s proud of that car because it represents her determination and her mission commitment, both of which are paying off.
Charlynda won the 2014 Heroes to CEOs contest by Bob Evans Farms. This hard-earned victory earned her a helpful business grant and an even more helpful mentor session with the Ultra-Entrepreneur Daymond John. She’s been featured as a contest winner in Forbes Magazine and her story is popping up on other esteemed platforms across the country.
In between launching her business and learning the industry, Charlynda managed to plan her wedding and compete for the title of Miss Veteran USA.
“It’s not a pageant!” she quickly exclaims. The competition is designed to crown an ambassador for women veterans across the country. It supports several nonprofits dedicated to aiding female veterans and demands intense physical fitness, military knowledge, championing of those nonprofits, and interviews with women veterans who are entrenched in the frontlines of leadership and success.
“I can get behind that,” she says.
She placed as a runner-up in the grueling competition, and continues to serve as a role-model for female veterans.
Today Charlynda offers her insight as a speaker and consultant, and as a mentor to children and in the Girl Scouts. For her, it’s a full-circle kind of thing, as she has benefitted from mentors and from her time as a young Girl Scout.
She’s a believer in the American Dream. She values being able to tell al the children she mentors that She believes in them, and that they live in the land of opportunity. In American, it’s not a forgone conclusion that less advantages in life, and bigger obstacles, will result in less achievement to anyone willing to work for those achievements.This is a place where you’re not defined by how you started. How you started is not how you have to finish. – Charlynda Scales, Founder Of Mutts SauceClick To Tweet
She’s living her own American Dream now, as her beloved company continues to grow.
Charlynda is currently a finalist in the Sam Adams “Brew Your American Dream” contest, with another business grant and an extraordinary mentorship on the line. We’re voting for her and you can too, by clicking here. The deadline is August 24, 2018 so vote now!
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