Brendan Whitt


'The Mouthwatering Taste of Success' by Brendan Whitt

Ethan and Indians Co-owner Paul Dolan
Anyone who has ever been successful in anything had to have one key character trait, perseverance. Whether it’s LeBron going to the gym before most of us have hit snooze, Jay-Z knowing that a drug dealer could become an all time great rap artist and business mogul or President Obama fighting his way to the White House as a black man. Perseverance will always get us through the rough and uncertain patches in life.

When I first heard of Ethan Holmes and his story I was inspired. I saw a guy who looks like me, is from my city and was on his way to the top. Ethan has always had a passion for business. He and a friend had a lemonade stand as children which they later made mobile and he even sold chocolate bars to classmates at Shaker Heights High School.

Then at 15 the idea hit him. “Why not start an applesauce company?” he thought. The market wasn’t saturated and he didn’t like the taste of Motts and other brand’s applesauces. “They’re flavors were just sugary and bland” he said. Ethan had been inspired by businessman Farrah Gray’s Book ‘Reallionaire’ given to him by his godmother.

“I never read a lot but his book just sparked my interest,” Ethan said. “He did it right.” Gray had made over a million dollars by the age of 14 after starting his own food related business. Ethan knew he had the hustle, he just needed a little push. After never fully committing to his dream Ethan finally found the moment to take his business seriously in 2014.

“I was working in Hiram’s cafeteria making sandwiches where I was making about $8.75 an hour and saving up for a clunker.” Ethan had stacked his checks and had over $1,000 saved up for his future bucket. It was then when his girlfriend Janae pushed him to finally take his applesauce business seriously. He started off by making applesauce in his kitchen and struggling to get vendors to put his product on their shelves. “There’s beauty in the struggle” he said.

Every year the Counsel of Small Enterprises, or COSE, hosts a competition where small business owners vie for the chance to gain additional resources for their businesses. “I applied every year for about three or four straight years and got denied every time. They didn't take us seriously.” Ethan’s company failed to even reach the first round. In March of this year Holmes Mouthwatering Applesauce took home first prize and $20,000.

Holmes Mouthwatering logo
There surely was beauty in his struggle as Holmes Mouthwatering Applesauce has grown into a budding success. Their applesauce is available in original and cinnamon and is now sold in over 60 locations in Ohio and Illinois in stores like Heinen’s, Zagara’s, and Giant Eagle. Ethan and his company are also looking forward to having their applesauce sold in Whole Foods and Marcs.

While his business success is surely something to be admired, it’s the personal sincerity that he injects into his company and brand. Unlike Mott’s and those other “sugary and bland” tasting applesauces, Holmes Mouthwatering cares about their consumers. Each 16 oz. jar is made from all natural products and  contains only 6g of sugar and 40 calories. Ethan has also made the conscious decision to donate 10% of all proceeds to fighting childhood obesity.  Ethan and his company are also looking to have their applesauce distributed in Columbus schools.

But it all isn’t peaches and cream or Apples and cider (dum dum tshhh).Even though he’s had success there are still struggles that plague him. Ethan says the hardest part about running a business isn’t managing product but managing people. “I was banned from hosting demos at Heinen’s for a while because people would leave early or not clean up properly.”

Holmes Mouthwatering summer interns
During this past summer Ethan worked with local Black and Hispanic teens. They learned about small business models where Ethan had them create their own mock Lemonade stands. He taught them necessary business management skills while they volunteered in his space at the Cleveland Culinary Launch and Kitchen. His time with the teens has inspired him to start his own non-profit called the Young Entrepreneur Initiative. Ethan also spends time as a consultant with the Cleveland State Small Business Development Center in Cleveland Heights.

Ethan wants to especially thank his girlfriend Janae for all of her love and support. He knows that his company can grow into a national and even global brand over the next five to ten years.
No matter how you dress it up Ethan has won and looks to continue to keep winning. He’s confident but not cocky, easy going but a go getter and stays busy. He’s just a normal guy with a bunch of apples and a plan.

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