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Who is Circle City Smoke?

My name is Paul, and I am the founder of Circle City Smoke. I was born and raised in Indianapolis and have always been passionate about making things. From a young age with Lego, on into adulthood with power tools and welders, I have been happiest when creating. This desire led directly to my making smoked sea salt as Christmas gifts, and ultimately to the company I now run. Thank you for your interest.  I really appreciate you giving my products a try!

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The Full Story

In 2014 I was working at Trader Joe's and making scrap metal artwork on the side. As a consummate maker, I enjoy making Christmas gifts for friends and family. Having heard about smoked salt in my foodie travels, it sounded like something I could make. I welded up a tiny smoker based upon how I thought it might work, and it actually did! It only made a small amount at a time, but after multiple runs I had enough to give away. I went to the Container Store and bought jars. I printed out labels and stuck them on. And I gave out applewood smoked sea salt as gifts to my friends and family.  

I didn't really think much about it after that, until people kept telling me how good it was. Over and over it seemed like everyone who tried it was telling me I should start selling it. So I started thinking about it, and looking at numbers, and dreaming a bit. I scaled up and built a larger smoker that would allow me to smoke more salt at a time. My church at the time gave me a small loan, and with that I was able to buy the materials I needed to get started. I designed the logo and label, looked into farmers markets, and found a small folding table and tablecloth. I was ready.


The Broad Ripple Winter Farmers Market was the first market that gave me a chance. I began with only one product: Applewood Smoked Sea Salt. As people began to try it and it became clear that it was a viable business, I expanded even more. I added more varieties of wood. Cherry, Hickory, Mesquite, and Pecan Smoked Sea Salts joined the Applewood. Grinders fell into place next to the jars. And then I began making Smoked Black Pepper. This changed everything.

The Smoked Black Pepper very swiftly became my top selling product and basically doubled my sales.  Last summer we added Rub#1 to the lineup and have more ideas for the future! My side hustle became my main gig, and I haven't looked back. I am still a home-based producer, but am actively looking for a way to become a commercial wholesaler in the future. If you would like to help with that goal in some way please get in touch.  

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