How Ayden, Lucien, & George Johannson of 3SONS Foods Decided To Change Our World

Ayden- We want to teach the future generations about conservation and how their actions affect the environment around them. In the future we plan on helping other causes that affect our environment, as we learn more about different problems in our world, we want other people to learn with us and we want to teach […]

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Ayden- We want to teach the future generations about conservation and how their actions affect the environment around them. In the future we plan on helping other causes that affect our environment, as we learn more about different problems in our world, we want other people to learn with us and we want to teach the world.

As part of my series about “individuals and organizations making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing 3 teenage brother entrepreneurs: Ayden, Lucien, & George Johannson (ages 12–17)and their single mom-preneur, Traci, who all started 3Sons Foods to showcase their award-winning sauces in order to raise funds to save Rhinos & Wolves.

They have been featured on 20/20, Localish (tv series), ABC, Houston Chronicle, Austin Business Journal, San Antonio Current, Fox News, several HEB Commercials, Cover of Teen Influential and more. 3 Sons has won numerous awards including HEB Quest for Texas Best 2019 and starred in many of their commercials. 1 Year later, they are in over 500 stores nationwide, with their 1st international store in Honduras.

3SonsFoods, LLC was founded in 2017 and was developed out of a passion to stop the illegal poaching of Rhinos. They started selling their devilishly addictive creamy cilantro sauce called Diablo Verde as a fundraiser, donating a portion of proceeds to the International Rhino Foundation which quickly turned into a family business. 3 yrs later they’ve won numerous awards and been featured on a number of news outlets. Their new Vegan sauce launches September 15, with proceeds going towards wolf conservation.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you tell us a bit how you grew up?

Ayden — Thank you for inviting us for this interview. My brothers and I were all raise in Katy, TX, a suburb outside of Houston TX. We have gone to school in a very competitive atmosphere, with Katy being a very international neighborhood. We grew up in a normal, respectful family. Our Mom has taught us responsibility by always requiring us to pitch in and do chores. We have been required to manage our own schedules and encouraged to be independent.

You are currently leading a social impact organization. Can you tell us a bit about what you and your organization are trying to change in our world today?

Luke — We are trying to preserve the rhino population for future generations. Basically, there aren’t a lot of rhinos and we think this is a real problem.

Ayden- We want to teach the future generations about conservation and how their actions affect the environment around them. In the future we plan on helping other causes that affect our environment, as we learn more about different problems in our world, we want other people to learn with us and we want to teach the world.

Can you tell us the backstory about what inspired you to originally feel passionate about this cause?

Luke — Me, I was the cool one! I liked Rhinos and once I learned more about them I wanted to help them. I realized they were being killed off, so I started fundraising and then selling our sauce, Diablo Verde to raise even more money, and now we’re here…..

Many of us have ideas, dreams, and passions, but never manifest it. They don’t get up and just do it. But you did. Was there an “Aha Moment” that made you decide that you were actually going to step up and do it? What was that final trigger?

Luke — When we paid back the money we had borrowed to start the business in 90 days, I realized like Wow, this could be an actual good business model and we can raise money for Rhinos!

George — My Aha Moment was when I realized we could save more Rhinos selling the sauce that everyone already wanted to buy.

Ayden –When I wanted to get on board, I knew it was going to be really hard work, but I thought about the future and I knew I would regret not being a part of our family business.

Many young people don’t know the steps to take to start a new organization. But you did. What are some of the things or steps you took to get your project started?

Ayden — First thing we finalized our recipe, started buying supplies and pricing what our cost to make the sauce was and then decided what to sell it for. We made Diablo Verde in our kitchen for neighbors and teachers. I remember in 8th grade, trying to sell our sauce to my friends and they were like “Dude what are you doing?…..” Which did deter me a bit, but thankfully my teachers supported me.

Once we decided to make it a real business, we research different business entities, and decided set up an LLC. We also had to find a commercial kitchen to make the sauce in, and design a label and get our sauce tested. Trademarks, Copyrights, etc, there was a lot of stuff to do to set up a business.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?

George — Winning Grand Champion for HEB Quest for Texas, which is a competition put on by HEB Grocery Store, the #1 grocery store in the nation. The competition is for Texas owned and run food companies. When we won, I felt complete joy!

Ayden — I felt complete joy and jubilation!

George — Also the commercial we did for HEB grocery store because we got to see a lot of behind the scenes of how commercials and movies are made.

Ayden — Shooting the commercial was a surreal experience because we were treated so nicely by everyone, like we were the top priority. Of course we came home to chores. LOL.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson or take away you learned from that?

Luke — When we were at the Farmer’s Market and some Lady accused my Mom of breaking child labor laws and seeing my Mom explain why it was OK that my 8 yr old little brother was working……apparently it’s OK to enslave your own children under the reasoning of “Family Business.”

None of us can be successful without some help along the way. Did you have mentors or cheerleaders who helped you to succeed? Can you tell us a story about their influence?

Ayden — Jody Hall and Stuart Folkes from HEB really taught us how to do business with a large grocery store chain. Our Uncle Mike, our Aunt Sally, Granny Susan, Uncle Frank, Ms. Alysia, Ms. Kendra and Ms. Sonali our neighbors were some of our 1st customers and have continuously supported us and given us business advice.

Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?

George — Dr. Lyyn MacTavish who was featured on the NY Times when her Rhino, Winny was murdered for her horn and brought attention to the cause.

Ayden — We now donate to both International Rhino Foundation and Endangered Rhino Conservation.

Luke — Rhino lives matter and we have helped save them and we are going to stop the poaching of Rhinos.

Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?

Ayden — Bring awareness to the cause.

George — Help fund different habitats.

Luke — Legalization of selling Rhino horn. Poachers are selling the rhino horns illegally, so if we legalized the selling of rhino horns, which can be trimmed like finger nails and grow back in 1–2 years; then only the ranchers could trim the rhino’s horns and sell them. If we legalized it, there would be no need to buy the horn illegally, which would put an end the unground market of rhino horns.

George — Which would help fund the rhino habitats. Currently the ranchers are struggling to fund the security needed to protect the rhinos.

Ayden — If the ranchers could sell rhinos horns, then they could make a business out of it and be able to support their farms. It would give an incentive to own rhinos and cause more rhinos to be protected under the care of ranchers.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

Ayden — As a business grows it only gets more complicated.

Don’t expect to get paid for a while.

Building a business is time consuming.

George — Just because you own a business it does not mean your rich, it can often mean the opposite. Don’t be in it for a quick payout, be in it for the long term

Don’t be surprised if everyone doubts you, if you think it’s going to work then try. If you have any doubts, it won’t work.

Luke — Always have a clear goal in your sight.

If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?

George — If you don’t try and make an impact the only thing that will be left of the beauty of this world will only be stories.

Ayden — As a population we waste a lot of resources, we have the ability to make a positive or negative impact and we only have 1 earth, we should preserve it for future generations.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

Luke — Oprah and Ellen.

George — Tenzin Giatso because he is very peaceful and loves the world.

How can our readers follow you online?

FB, IG, Twitter, Pinterest @3SonsFoods

George — Thank you for interviewing us and helping us bring awareness to animal conservation. Stay tuned for our new Vegan sauce which launches in September 2020 to help wolf conservation!

This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!

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