Editor’s note: Made in Tarrant is an occasional Q&A series on small businesses started in Tarrant County. Submit your business here.
Linda Shelar started TX Brisket Biscuit in July 2019 out of her home. Today, she runs her operations out of a storefront at 2390 Fuller Wiser Road in Euless. Her specialty is ready-to-bake flavored biscuits with complementary compound butters in complementary flavors. You can purchase the biscuit-butter combos at her store or find the products at Central Market and online at Neiman Marcus.
Linda Shelar, owner of TX Brisket Biscuit, shared how the idea for her business came to her and where she sees it going. This interview has been edited for clarity, grammar and length.
SANDRA SADEK: What is TX Brisket Biscuit’s backstory?
LINDA SHELAR: I had a writing business for seven years. I wrote web copy, marketing material, did taglines. I’m in the creative lane for sure. I just got to a point in that business — I like doing it but I was frustrated, I think, with the selling end of it, because most people that you’re writing for are small businesses. A lot of them are pretty short on cash, just trying to get going. … It was just kind of a tough sell. I was just out of ideas even though I’m creative. I thought about different things. So I asked God to point me in a different direction.
Two nights later, I had a dream of the brisket biscuit. All of it — the brisket in the biscuit, the butter that comes with it and the frozen aspect of the product. It was super clear when I woke up.
I woke up and I thought, ‘OK, I dreamed about a brisket biscuit. That sounded really good. It tasted really good in the dream. Of course, I had to eat it, right? And I’m gonna make this.’
I bought some brisket, and I had my mother’s West Texas buttermilk biscuit recipe that I’ve made. So, I took that plus the brisket, made the biscuits and made the butter according to what I remembered it tasting like in the dream.
A couple days after that, I was like, ‘Wait a minute. Is this the answer to the dream?’
SADEK: How did your products end up in Central Market?
SHELAR: At this point, I did one farmers market. As you’re trying to get started, I think it’s critical to do farmers markets because you get that face-to-face interaction, and you get to learn about building your base and your customers and what people like, what they don’t like. … I ended up just doing one in the Park Cities area in Dallas. Somebody said to me, they said, ‘Oh, you should try to get your product in Central Market.’
I’m like, ‘No, no, no, no, that’s too big for me. That’s too much.’ Then I got the offer to do the interview for the 76092 Magazine and it came out. … I go home one night and I open my email and there’s an email from Central Market, and he’s like, ‘Hi, Linda. I read an article about you in a magazine. I’m the buyer for frozen and dairy at Central Market. We want to carry your product.’
Somebody had ripped the article out of the magazine and put it on his desk. And to this day, nobody will own up to doing it. It’s sold (out) several times at Central Market. It’s a fixture now.
SADEK: First Central Market and now Neiman Marcus. How does it feel to know these large retailers carry your product?
SHELAR: There are different phases of it. Like, with Central Market, there was some trepidation. But I’ve also really learned during this whole experience that when doors open, just walk through. You have to pick and choose sometimes your doors, but things that you think are too big … you have to find a solution to make it happen. Because if you just kind of keep saying no, you’ll end up in that place. You’re holding yourself back.
Now, when things come along, I’m a lot more relaxed about it. I don’t really know what to expect from the Neiman deal. I know we’ve already sold (out) this first round and then we’re back orders and all sorts of stuff.
You don’t want that Oprah thing to happen when … here you are with your new product and everything and (it’s sold out), then everybody’s trying to contact you to order and all that. You’re overwhelmed and can’t do it. So, there’s a sliver of that where you look at it and you go, ‘I don’t know. Maybe I can’t do it.’ But you have to be candid about it.
SADEK: Tell me a bit more about your biscuit flavors.
SHELAR: I’m a big cook and I’m kind of a bold cook. I like to mix flavors, and I like different flavors from different food types: Thai, Indian, whatever. I’m good at taking flavors and putting them together. That’s my lane, I’d say.
Most people are either cooks or bakers. I’m on the cooking (side). People say, ‘But you’re baking biscuits,’ and I’m like, ‘I’m not baking them. I’m making them.’
SADEK: Anything else you’d like to mention?
SHELAR: Sometimes people ask me, ‘Where do you see this going?’ I’ll watch “Shark Tank” and I hear over and over, like scaling it up — how are you going to scale up your business? I know that’s difficult with this business. So, my hope is to just kind of grow the distribution, but it’s a handmade product … start to finish, (so the goal) is to not ever take it to some sort of assembly manufacturing thing. That may be limiting me, but I just don’t know how that grows.
Sandra Sadek is a Report for America corps member, covering growth for the Fort Worth Report. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ssadek19.
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