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Q&A With Justin Park, co-founder of The Real Dill

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Taking something already delicious like pickles and making them even more flavorful sounds like a pretty genius idea to us. So it’s no surprise that the creators of The Real Dill, an artisanal pickle label based in Denver, already have a huge demand for their products. Friends Justin Park and Tyler DuBois got their start by making pickles on their own for fun, but after making a batch for guests at Justin’s wedding the word was out: their pickles were better than other pickles. They launched at Denver famers markets in summer 2012 and haven’t looked back since!

We talked with Justin about how they got the ball rolling and why they love owning a business based in Colorado.

Q: How did the idea for the Real Dill come to be?

It was really just a hobby gone wild. We were each making pickles at home for fun and sharing them with each other. We finally tried a batch made with leftovers from Tyler’s garden and had a ‘pickle epiphany.’ They were so flavorful, crunchy, and beautiful-looking that we got inspired. So we spent our spare time over the next year and a half working on recipes, perfecting the craft, and building a vision for the business. Our inspiration and passion for doing it just continued to grow. I think each of us secretly expected the charm to wear off at some point but it never did, and still hasn’t. That’s how we knew that it was an idea worth pursuing.

Q: How do you find inspiration for flavors? What is the most popular?

The inspiration for flavors usually comes from our culinary curiosity. It could be a dinner that one of us made at home and sparked an idea, or a food item one of us brought back from a vacation. Sometimes it’s just a general curiosity. For example, we may see some interesting ingredient at Savory Spice Shop and just want to play with it. The Habanero Horseradish Dills have generally been our most popular pickle, but it honestly changes from month to month, with the Caraway Garlic Dills, Jalapeño Honey Dills, and Spicy Caribbeans all being the most popular during different stretches. Our Bloody Mary Mix is consistently our best selling product, which is pretty cool because we never expected that to happen.

Q: What is your business’ biggest challenge?

Everyday presents a new set of challenges for us because we’ve never done anything like this before. But because this is a pursuit of passion, we generally enjoy taking on each challenge as an opportunity to learn and improve what we’re doing. We just take it one step at a time, which allows us to learn as we go and plan for upcoming challenges before it’s too late.

Q: And biggest reward?

There are so many rewards associated with owning your own business and being your own boss, but nothing can replace the feeling of creating something that complete strangers get excited about. It’s just so gratifying to pour your heart into something and have it be validated by the public. In addition to that, it’s really rewarding to be able to provide a job for our employees that they are proud of and a quality of life that they enjoy.

Q: What do you love most about Colorado?

The Colorado community is so supportive of small businesses, local products, and entrepreneurism. People genuinely care about products made with integrity and about the people behind the brand. We couldn’t imagine doing this in any other state, and our goal from the beginning was to build a brand that would make Colorado proud.

Q: What is something readers would be surprised to know about you or your business?

When we first launched the business at farmers markets we each still had jobs, and we were expecting to keep our jobs for at least another year. But after the very first market we had to put in our notice because it was immediately clear that there was just no way we could keep up while working both jobs. It was a pretty terrifying thought at the time because we expected to be taking the leap after having proven the concept more than we had, but the choice was pretty clear and we were thrilled to be in that position.

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