In a room full of powerful food executives, Tyla-Simone Crayton was in her element.
Without an ounce of nerves to be seen, the Texas "Sauce Boss" dished out tastings of her secret recipe to a VIP crowd at the World Food Championships in Dallas.
“Everybody go home! That is amazing,” the CEO and President of the World Food Championships, Mike McCloud, exclaimed to the crowd of eager tasters. She was one of five entrepreneurs to showcase their product.
“It's been exciting,” Crayton, the CEO of Sienna Sauce, told InsideEdition.com. “I've been able to meet people that I probably would've never met before. It's just another reminder that my company, and my brand, are on the right path.”
She had a vision and it was being seen through, the result of years of hard work and dedication to her business. That she was 15 was inconsequential.
Simone was eight when her the distance between she and her favorite chicken wing spot in New York inspired her to create a comparable sauce of her own. She loved the sauce they offered so much so, that when she moved to Houston, she tried to recreate the flavor in her kitchen and then begged her mom to let her bottle it.
Her mom, Monique Crayton, was initially skeptical about the idea, but once she served the sauce to friends at a party and saw their reaction, she knew her daughter was on to something. In 2008, Crayton resigned from her job to stay at home and focus on Tyla-Simone's budding business. But they soon found themselves homeless. They lived with friends and family and sometimes slept in the car. Things turned around when a friend offered up her apartment.
"I believe that’s why she is so balanced at such a young age and able to run this company as a young CEO," explained Crayton. "She was able to understand that life comes with challenges even in business."
Now, she couldn’t be prouder of her daughter’s journey.
“We met the owner of the World Food Champion[ships]. She stood on the stage with him in the VIP lounge. That's history for her, at 15 years old,” Monique said. “I mean what better platform for any brand to be on?” she added of the exposure.
A year ago, InsideEdition.com profiled Tyla-Simone’s business. Then, Sienna Wings had made its way to 22 distributors.
Now, the brand is carried by 90 distributors and placed in over 60 stores throughout Texas. Tyla-Simone even leases her own office space.
“Inside Edition has really helped my dream and my goal. It was such an honor back then that they chose me to do an interview,” Tyla-Simone said. “Actually, it was one of my first take-off interviews. It's the one that all of the other media stations use all the time.”
All the media hits caught the attention of the Houston Black Chamber of Commerce, which honored Tyla-Simone as its first recipient of the Young Entrepreneur Award.
“I'm accepting this award on behalf of all young entrepreneurs, all black woman, and all young teens that feel like they don't have a purpose, haven't found it yet, or do not have the resources that I was blessed with,” she said at the time. “So you are all amazing and you have the opportunities that can come to you.”
The ceremony happened to be the same weekend as the World Food Championships, where Tyla-Simone closed a business deal with another chef.
“It’s impressive to have the vision, to have the desire to do what she wants to do and know where she wants to go,” said Brent Taylor, chef at Team Chupacabra BBQ.
Now 16, Tyla-Simone's list of goals includes breaking into the national market, namely Walmart. And she hopes to be an inspiration for others to come.
“I want to be able to create a generational legacy for me, and my family, and my kids,” she said.