How a family-owned sauce and spice company grew its brand with Amazon’s Black Business Accelerator

“Take that leap of faith. You could be like us and go from regional to national. It’s definitely possible with Amazon.” - Tracey Richardson, Founder & CEO of Lillie’s of Charleston

Lillie’s of Charleston is a family-owned maker and seller of specialty barbecue sauces, hot sauces, and spice mixes. Since 2001, co-founding sisters Tracey Richardson and Kellye Wicker, along with Tracey’s husband Jamel, have carried the legacy of their father’s love of barbecue and their great aunt Lillie’s passion for making food that warms the heart and soul.

For over a decade, the team at Lillie’s of Charleston enjoyed regional popularity in restaurants and specialty food shops around the southeast. Much like the “sneaky heat” of their most popular hot sauce, the buzz around their products heated up steadily over time. By the mid-2010s, sales were starting to boom. Tracey’s father, long retired from running a restaurant called The Rib Shack, was putting in hours to help pick and pack orders. “We just couldn’t keep asking him to do that,” says Jamel, Lillie’s marketing and operations lead. “After years of self-fulfilling orders, we were ready for Amazon to handle our fulfillment.”

After we transitioned to Fulfillment by Amazon, we saw a greater than 3X increase in sales.
Jamel Richardson
Marketing & Operations Lead of Liliie’s of Charleston


Going from regional to national with FBA

In September 2017, Lillie’s of Charleston enrolled in Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) and began a journey of successful national distribution. “The ability to use FBA allows us to change the game in terms of how we spend our days,” Jamel explains. “If we didn’t have FBA, we would spend half of every day packing up orders and doing logistics and returns.” Jamel loves that he can pack a whole pallet of product at once and send it to Amazon to handle individual order fulfillment.

Jamel and Tracey saw their sales triple in their first year selling with FBA. In addition to winning back time to focus on telling their story, generating sales, and developing new products, FBA opened Lillie’s of Charleston products to national sales. “When we first saw that people in Alaska were getting our sauce, we were just giddy,” Tracey says.

FBA is worth it. It takes all the logistics off our plates so we can focus on telling our story.

BBA powers growth with one-on-one relationships


In early 2020, Lillie’s of Charleston was invited to help pioneer Amazon’s Black Business Accelerator (BBA). They paired with an Amazon account manager named Ken, whose job is to break down barriers around what Black business owners want to accomplish. Ken helped Tracey and Jamel more effectively navigate Seller Central, understand inventory management in light of major selling events like Prime Day and Black Friday, and maximize their ad campaigns. “Ken has done all sorts of great things for us,” Jamel says. “He has been so helpful in terms of strategizing where we need to launch products, when we need to do it, how we need to do it.”

Did you know?
Black Business Accelerator empowers Black-owned businesses
Amazon’s Black Business Accelerator (BBA) is dedicated to helping build sustainable growth for Black-owned businesses by targeting barriers to access, opportunity, and advancement.

Optimizing A+ Content with the help of an expert

Ken was instrumental in helping Tracey and Jamel optimize their presence on Amazon using A+ Content. Ken helped them strategize the timing and content of their most successful lightning deals and suggested ways to make their photos more engaging. “We did some pictures with our products wrapped in a bow in front of a fireplace,” Tracey explains. “It helped people understand that this is a great gift item.” Advertising support is a key benefit of joining BBA.

In addition to getting advertising strategy from account managers, BBA members receive up to $3,000 in ad credits. Although Tracey and Jamel had already been running ads in the Amazon store before enrolling in BBA, this credit let them experiment using Ken’s input. “It gave us the flexibility to try something different,” Tracey explains. “We were able to take advantage of that to learn what worked best. Not every tool is going to work the same for everybody. Ken helped us figure out how to optimize our listings.”

Thanks to their enrollment in BBA, Lillie’s of Charleston products were featured in several seasonal promotions. During Black History Month in 2021, for example, they saw a 240% increase in the number of units sold over the month prior.


Ripples of opportunity beyond Amazon

Tracey attributes almost all of Lillie’s expansion to Amazon. Their sauces have been discovered by ad agencies and bought by the case for features in shows like Black Lady Sketch Show on HBO. On several occasions, Jamel has noticed their inventory drop by one hundred or more units at a time. “That’s when we know someone major has placed an order,” Jamel explains. “Maybe they got added to a corporate gift box.”

“That’s the kind of thing that Amazon makes possible,” Jamel says. “It’s directly attributable to the exposure we got with Amazon.”

Because we were on Amazon, and because we were tagged as Black business owners, it allowed ad agencies to find our products.
Tracey Richardson
Founder & CEO of Lillie’s of Charleston

Thanks to FBA and BBA, Lillie’s of Charleston is thriving. They are preparing to move into new offices. They are developing new recipes and excited to introduce them to their fans on Amazon first. “My advice to Black entrepreneurs who are considering Amazon would be to take that leap of faith,” Tracey says. “You could be like us and go from regional to national. It’s definitely possible with Amazon.”

Shop Lillie’s of Charleston

Phillip McClure
Phillip McClure
Phillip McClure is a Senior Content Marketing Manager at Amazon who’s driven by helping entrepreneurs discover opportunities to reach more customers through Amazon stores. He also enjoys traveling, stand-up comedy, and playing guitar.