Ever wonder what makes a great pickle? Just ask Scott Kaylin and Chris Hobson, the dynamic duo behind Vancouver pickle company Kaylin and Hobbs. Both originally from the East Coast (Scott being from New York and Chris from Toronto), the pair wanted to bring the taste of a classic New York style pickle to the streets of Vancouver, and they did just that. We visited Scott and Chris at their stand in Vancouver’s Granville Island Public Market to chat about how they started on this venture, their hobbies outside of work, and their personal keys to success.
First things first, can you tell how Kaylin & Hobbs came to be? Did you both always know you wanted to start a pickle company?
Chris: We met in Vancouver through our wives who went to University together. We’re both originally from the East Coast, which is where the best pickles are made, however we soon realized that there wasn't any good tasting pickles on the West Coast! We came from very different backgrounds; Scott was in the garment industry and I was in marketing and advertising. We both missed good pickles, so we decided to do something about it.
All of your pickles are made in New York. Can you tell us why New York?
Chris: Our first goal was to find someone to make the kind of pickles we wanted to make, which was basically a New York deli pickle that was crunchy and could have multiple flavours. We flew to New York and met with all of the original families who are still making pickles and told them what we wanted to do. We found our partner, and the rest is history.
While you offer nearly a dozen flavours of sweet, spicy and sour pickles, do you have a favorite?
Scott: Horseradish -- however I actually eat more Mustard. I usually wrap a piece of Swiss cheese around it!
Chris: Mustard all-the-way, and I’m a sucker for sour pickles.
What is one of your favourite parts about your job?
Scott: Seeing just how many people love pickles. We were interviewed on a radio show by a college professor who said “do you know what you’ve done? You’ve created a product and brand that crosses all barriers of race, religion, age.” She was right, and it’s been humbling for us.
Chris: One day a customer was with her son and tried our Half Sour pickles, and after one bite, she turned away and started crying. Her son was comforting her wondering what was wrong. She turned back to me and said, with tears in her eyes, that they reminded her of her Grandmother.
What are some of your favorite hobbies outside of work?
Scott: I love hiking with my dogs, cycling, and experimenting with new recipes in the kitchen and on the grill.
Chris: I have a sailboat and sail to local islands with my wife Kristin looking for dolphins and whales. I love telling stories. Oh, and I’m a vegan so I’m always cooking.
In your opinion, what are 3 things (food/drinks) that require a good pickle?
Scott: Pickles literally pair with everything. As pickles go great with beer, we sell them to a lot of local breweries. And no sandwich or burger is complete without a pickle. Our friends at Tuck Shoppe make this Cubano sandwich with our Kosher Dills – it’s the best. Then there’s the Kaylin & Hobbs Caesar, pour an ounce of Horseradish brine in, add a pickle, and it’s the best Caesar you’ve ever had.
What are you listening to or reading right now?
Scott: I’m listening to the Russell Brand Podcast, and I just started reading “Shoe Dog” by Phil Knight, the founder of Nike.
Chris: I’m reading “On the Move,” an autobiography of Oliver Sacks who is a Neurologist and Naturalist. As for music, I’m listening to WhatFunLifeWas by the Texas slowcore band BedHead.
And lastly, can you let us in on some lessons you learned along the way of starting your own business, and any personal keys for success?
Scott: Pursue your passion, recognizing some days you wake up and you’re in the dirt, an hour later you’re in the clouds, and then back in the dirt, and two hours later back in the clouds! Every experience, good or bad, is an experience worth having as long as you learn from it.
Chris: Listen more. Have fun, because if you’re not having fun you shouldn’t be doing it. And don’t get stuck in a routine -- take risks and do something uncomfortable every week. It rewires your brain.
Be sure to check out Kaylin and Hobbs at their tasting bars at Vancouver’s Granville Island Public Market and North Vancouver’s Lonsdale Quay under the big neon pickle sign. After you sample a variety of their pickles, you’ll understand why these guys are the real dill.