To promote the September release of Haunted Painting, her second album under the solo moniker Sad13, Speedy Ortiz leader Sadie Dupuis integrated food products — a custom “haunted” hot sauce, black tea and hazelnut spread, in partnership with different local vendors — into her online merch store along with t-shirts and tote bags. Here, she offers tips to other indie artists thinking about doing the same.
“I’m a big fan of small-batch artisan food makers, especially as a vegan who travels around the country quite a bit. Dragon’s Blood Elixir, the brand who did the hot sauce, I’ve been a big fan of for over a decade. We were going to do a hot sauce for Speedy Ortiz in 2015, but the logistics of carrying glass bottles of hot sauce on tour for three months was more liability than we were willing to personally accept. As soon as we knew that touring was over [this year], but that I’d still be putting out a record, I was like, ‘Well, I can’t tour, but that does mean I can do all of the cool, glass-bottle food merch that I’ve always fantasized about!’
too far with this tasty merch…………? please visit bandcamp tomorrow lol pic.twitter.com/cLRAzStxw1
— speedy ortiz ÷ sad13 ÷ sadie dupuis ÷ haunted guy (@sad13) September 3, 2020
“Dragon’s Blood Elixir was the first [vendor] I reached out to, and I got in touch with Craft Tea, which stocks a lot of local venues and cafes with different herbal blends. We planned to do chocolates with Lagusta’s Luscious, a vegan commissary, but we were nervous that fancy truffles would arrive melted, so we ended up doing a Nutella spread.
“Everything is as nonperishable as it can be for organic food, and everything we’ve done merchwise on this album has been in pretty limited quantities, for sustainability reasons. The hot sauce and tea sold out fairly quickly. It’s great for online sales, but I’d say still significantly lower than if we had them on tour — but if we were on tour, I don’t know if we’d be able to have these products anyway. It’s cool to do something that doesn’t feel like it’s contributing to fast fashion, or something that’s going to get thrown away in a year. Even if I can’t be playing shows, people have been sending me pictures of meals with the hot sauce on it, and that feels really special to me.
“If there are local businesses you like, [artists] should reach out and see if they’d want to do something together. We’re all struggling and figuring out how to survive as businesses when we can’t have people in our shops or at our shows, so it’s a great time to collaborate.”
This article originally appeared in the Nov. 14, 2020, issue of Billboard.