Work and Money
She Served The USA — And Then She Served Sauce
The Gold Award is the highest achievement in the Girl Scouts of the USA — only around 5% of eligible Scouts actually earn the award. The Gold Award is immediately recognizable on college applications, but even more so in the military, which advances an enlisted individual a full rank just by having the commendation.
I wondered if I could find a Gold Award recipient who had, later in life, ventured into both the armed forces and entrepreneurship. I found myself sketching a Venn diagram of sorts, with the intersection point containing the Girl Scout foundational skill of service, the tasks required for earning the coveted Gold Award, and the characteristics of grit (needed for the military) and personal fortitude (needed for entrepreneurship).
A few months ago, I was pleasantly surprised to find just the right person walking down the aisles of my local grocery store: Charlynda Scales, Girl Scout alum, recipient of the Gold Award, Air Force veteran, and founder of Mutt’s Sauce.
When did you first know you wanted to be an entrepreneur? When I was in high school, my dream was actually to be a collegiate athlete. Unfortunately, I had a career-ending injury that forced me to make other plans for college. This is when I learned about the Air Force ROTC program. The Air Force ROTC scholarship paid for college in exchange for four years of service to the military. After joining the military, I learned I had inherited a recipe from my late grandfather, who is also an Air Force veteran. This was the start of my journey as an entrepreneur.
I sought mentorship, and my mentor encouraged me to use the recipe to create a food product that could be sold in grocery stores. Eventually, he said that I would be able to take care of my family from the growth of the company. In addition, it satisfied my desire to share the sauce with friends and family. I stayed on active duty for two years while I built the company after hours. After 10 years of service on active duty, I left and joined the Air Force Reserves. This allowed me to continue serving but free up time during the day to run the company.
I did have a great example to follow, though. My mother owned a child care facility when I was in high school, where I would volunteer as the Spanish teacher. That was the first example I witnessed of the hard work it takes to be an entrepreneur. She's my hero, and I'm glad to follow her footsteps as an entrepreneur.
Tell us more about Mutt's Sauce. My grandfather's name was Charlie "Mutt" Ferrell. He received his Air Force call sign “Mutt” for his adaptive personality. There wasn't a place in the world where he didn't have a friend. Besides being passionate about service, he was also passionate about creating a solution for the wastefulness of condiments. He thought people should have one sauce that could be used for everything. He made the sauce in 1956 and my family ate it for multiple generations. Mutt's Sauce is an all-purpose tomato-based specialty sauce. It's called "the sauce for every meal." Growing up, I would eat it on my eggs and hashbrowns. I'd describe the flavor as “sweet and tangy with a little bit of heat.” It's also vegan-friendly, and we also have a gluten-free option online.
Describe how service is an important trait/value for you personally and for your business. As a military veteran, I live my life by the core values we learned on active duty: integrity first, service before self, and excellence in all we do. Being a fourth-generation veteran, I believe service is in our family DNA. Personally, I want to make sure I am always operating at a high level of ethics and morality.
Do you remember any lessons or activities specifically about service from your Girl Scout days? I'm currently a lifetime member of Girl Scouts of the USA and a proud Gold Award winner. I started in Girl Scouts when I was in kindergarten, and it was the best thing that ever happened to me as a young girl. Girl Scouts carries itself by a similar set of core values. I can look back on my experiences with Girl Scouts and see how they're preparing you to be great citizens and to give back to your country. My Gold Award project was to create a club at my school called the United Cultural Awareness Club. I wanted to leave my community [in Tennessee] better than how I found it. Diversity and inclusion was my focus even in the early ’90s. I wanted to create an environment where my peers could ask questions to students of different backgrounds, races, and cultural identities. Sometimes the best way to break down barriers is to have a conversation. Girl Scouts empowered me to make a difference and continues to do so into adulthood.
How did being a Girl Scout shape you as a female business owner? Being a Girl Scout is like wearing an invisible cape on your back. It is the ultimate sisterhood of girls and women who constantly reinforce that they believe in you and have your back. As a business owner, my focus is on impact and giving back to the community, which has done so much for me. As I pay it forward, I realize where I am now is a direct result of the values, mentorship, and leadership within the Girl Scout community.
Charlynda Scales is an entrepreneur, Air Force Veteran, TEDx speaker, brand ambassador, social media influencer, Clemson graduate, and founder of an NMSDC-certified, diverse and female-owned company, Mutt’s Sauce, LLC. More information can be found at muttssauce.com.