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Behind the Brands: Baja Jerky

In this series, we're highlighting a new artisan jerky provider each month that we LOVE! For today's interview, we had the privilege of sitting down with Will Dryden, General Manager of Baja Jerky.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! To kick us off, can you tell us a bit about yourself for our readers?

No problem! Thank you for having me! My name is Will Dryden, General Manager of Baja Jerky. First and foremost, I am a super proud husband and dad! I have been with Baja Jerky since the beginning and help lead the team to reach ambitious goals. We’re still a start up, so the team wears many hats and we all do what is needed to get the job done, but I also ensure that we’re having fun while we’re working hard. I am just trying to get Baja Jerky in everyone’s hands and make this an amazing global brand – we’ve got some really exciting stuff coming!

Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

We created Baja Jerky out of our love for Baja itself and everything that is Baja from the area, to the lifestyle, and the delicious fresh foods and ingredients. We knew we wanted to take that Baja love and create an awesome brand and we saw that the jerky/meat snack category could step it up a little and it has been our mission to do that with crazy delicious flavors inspired by the foods of Baja that have great nutrition. Most meat snacks are high in sugar and when you find a low sugar meat snack, the sodium is out of control – we’re tasty and low in sugar and sodium and we’re an all-natural snack with no nonsense ingredients!

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

The first Baja race that we did with our trophy trucks was an awesome experience like none I had previously experienced. We were out in the middle of the desert in Baja, 10 miles from any road, when both our race trucks had to do a pit stop at the same time (they were only planning on one truck at a time). Races are won and lost by the speed of the pit stop, my mind was blown by how a team rallied together and moved quickly and safely to turn both trucks out in record time. I was just in awe being in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by thousands of people, and a pit team that is just like the Baja Jerky team, AMAZING! It was such a cool experience and I’m happy to be able to experience the races and other awesome events so often now – it’s a surreal feeling!

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

Our first order of Baja Jerky bags were mistakenly made with the tear line at the top in the same location of the sealing line. This made it impossible for people to open. Customers sent pictures to me with saw’s and knifes trying to open the top of the bag! Good news, we have moved on and made bags that are easy to get to our delicious jerky!

Tell our audience what makes Baja Jerky jerky so special.

Baja Jerky is special because it is so delicious and it truly is guilt-free without having to compromise. We have flavors that other jerky brands don’t offer – like our top seller, Salsa Fresca! Our jerky is nice and tender, flavorful, with low sugar, low sodium (the lowest of any meat snack right now), and we use no preservatives, MSG, nitrates/nitrites, we’re gluten-free, and we have no added hormones!

Tell us the founding story of your business.

We love Baja – from the good times had there, to the people, and we really love the culture and how it’s exploding with authentic flavors. Baja is good times, good food, community, fun – it’s the essence of what we want Baja Jerky to be. Our culture, our flavors – everything is inspired by Baja. We really want to exude gratitude for the people of Baja through our brand and allow you to enjoy the flavors of Baja in every bite of Baja Jerky!

How did you come up with the name of Baja Jerky?

Everything previously mentioned above that we love about Baja, plus the product that it is. Haha..it sounds so simple, but the name simply catches the essence of the entire brand and what we love!

Where does your business call home, and what makes it special?

We are headquartered in the beautiful, sunny SoCal city of San Diego! We’re not too far from Baja and San Diego captures a lot of the same love for Baja that we have…plus, perfect weather, gorgeous beaches and delicious fresh foods! Wins all around!

What is your favorite aspect of running an artisan jerky company?

It’s so exciting! It’s busy all the time, there’s constantly new opportunities and new ideas that we tackle, and it’s just an amazing feeling being able to grow something like this from the ground up and see it come to life! Bringing a flavorful, healthy snack to the market and hearing the great feedback we’ve been getting is just awesome!

What is your favorite flavor of jerky?

Salsa Fresca is my favorite! It is bursting with fresh salsa flavors and is unlike any other meat snack that I have had or seen! If you like salsa, you have to try it! You will be hooked!

In your opinion, what separates the small-batch jerky artisans from the larger jerky producers?

I think there’s a need and space for both – you know? The larger producers can get mass amounts out and are able to have more budget friendly options because they produce so much. What I love about being small-batch is the control we have over the quality and the authenticity of our jerky. We’re passionate about our brand and we always aim to have the highest quality product in each bag and being small-batch just helps us ensure this more.

How has 2020 impacted your jerky business, and what do you see as the future of jerky?

The entire world was impacted by 2020, so like every other brand and individual we just did our best to navigate a newly virtual world with a new brand. If anything, I think people were shopping more and snacking more being remote and balancing work/life/kids and everything in a whole new way, under one roof at the same time! It’s amazing how having good snacks can help with that! We were fortunate to be able to keep pushing forward and made some great new relationships and are just aimed toward our goals. Jerky has been a go-to snack for a long, long time and I don’t see it going anywhere – I think it will just keep growing as we innovate the category and liven it up Baja style!

How can our audience follow you on social media?

You can follow the flavor on social at @Baja Jerky. We have really fun, active social media content so if you’re feeling claustrophobic at home, you can escape online with us!