There’s the mama’s boy. The sweetie-pie. The athlete. The energetic big thinker. The wisecracking prankster. Mr. Cool and Casual. The academic over-achiever. The shy, contemplative one. The entitled eldest.
These are the 9LazyKidz, each with his or her own distinct personality, point of view, talent, likes and dislikes.
As is the case with most parents, Martin Ervin took his inspiration from his children, so much so that he has created a whole business around them, beginning by infusing their traits and quirks into a line of what he calls spicy gourmet chutneys.
“The kids are the brand,” Ervin said, dressed in a suit and seated in the dining room of his active, yet remarkably clean and tidy, Hull household. “I want to build a brand around my family’s stories.”
It is not exactly “Cheaper by the Dozen,” but this family is just fine with nine.
Ervin conceived of the idea of 9LazyKidz in October 2012 and has since released a pair of sauces in honor of two members of his brood: Q’s Spicy Mango Sauce (after 5-year-old son Quintin), and Skye’s Sweet Apple Heat (for 10-year-old daughter Skye). Products are in the works for the rest of the seven “kidz,” as Ervin calls them, but the family is planning a slow roll-out.
The goal is to ultimately build a multifaceted brand, inspired by and run by family members and their individual passions, which encompasses other types of food, beverages, and products.
And the name? Sometimes they are lazy, Ervin acknowledged, “but most kids are.”
But before we go any further, perhaps it is time for a roll call.
It begins with 44-year-old Ervin, a Dorchester native who moved to Hull for middle school. These days, when he is not envisaging grand plans or spending time with his family, Ervin works long days and weekends as director of client relations at the Boston law firm Prince Lobel Tye LLP.
Sharing the parental duties is 34-year-old Michelle, who, in her role as “chief house operator,” keeps things in order (as much as possible, anyway).
As for the “kidz,” first off is 2-year-old Chance, who, as Ervin joked, clings so tightly to his mother’s leg that he initially thought his wife had developed a growth. (He’s definitely the “mama’s boy” of the family.)
Next in line is 4-year-old Malik: energetic, witty, sometimes mischievous, and the “boss man,” as dad described. “Some of the things he comes up with,” Ervin mused. “ ‘I behaved for nothing? I’m not going to get a treat?’ ”
Following him is the equally enthusiastic and self-motivated Quintin – he wants to be “the greatest football player” when he grows up – whose sauce reflects the “energy, bite, and flavor” of his personality.
‘Not only do people like the sauce; they like the stories.’MARTIN ERVIN, on his line of sauces named after his nine children
Then there is 9-year-old Miles, dubbed the “genius.” A piano player who excels in school, he spends ample time researching and studying online and “comes up with facts out of nowhere,” his father said.
Smack in the middle of the gang is Skye, the definitive “daddy’s girl.” Her sauce emphasizes her “sweet personality, coupled with the bite of spice she brings.”
Next is Martin Jr. The 11-year-old is the athlete of the family and a bit of a troublemaker; they call him Timmy when he’s having a tantrum.
And now for the teenagers: affable 16-year-old Ramon, or Mo, whom his father described as slow-moving and equipped with “knowledge he has yet to realize”; and 19-year-old Tiara, a mother herself to 21-month-old Anessa. (Ervin does not plan to include the third generation in the brand.)
Finally, the eldest, 22-year-old Aisha (pronounced Asia), animated, confident, and, as her father described her, “entitled.”
Any more planned?
“No, no, no,” Ervin said with a laugh and emphatic hand gestures.
As a child, he recalled, he prayed to be rich one day; now he quips that he should have specified monetarily. But he observes that he is “rich in family.”
“I always wanted a big family,” he said, describing his own upbringing in what he considered a small family with three other siblings.
Hectic and raucous as family life can get to be at times, the children largely agree. “I’m glad I have brothers and sisters – and a lot of them,” a smiling Skye said as she sat at the dining room table, fidgeting and exchanging inside talk with her brothers.
Not surprisingly, maintaining order is a full-family effort. Household tasks are divided, the washer and dryer hardly ever sit idle, and laminated signs in high-traffic areas prompt young people to keep up with chores: “load the dishwasher” or “the dog has feelings, too.”
Amid all these sounds of his busy household, Ervin explained that he has always liked to cook – he is particularly inclined to Southern food, such as collard greens – and was inspired to create hot sauces because he could not find any that provided what he felt was a good blending of flavor and heat.
One day, he went to the store, picked up a variety of fruits and spices, and began experimenting. He continues to do so, incorporating tomatoes, pineapple, strawberry, kiwi, blueberry, garlic, and whatever else he finds appealing.
“We play around with different ingredients to see what we like,” his wife explained.
After receiving FDA approval for shelf stability, 1,100 of the 6.4-ounce jars sold in the first month (retailing at $5), Ervin said.
He crafts them at Anastos Corner Cafe in Hull, and they can be picked up at various locations south of Boston and on 9lazykidz.com, which offers recipes, blogs, and family stories, too.
Six more sauces are in the works: Timmy Unleashed, Get Mo Movin’, Aisha’s Entitlement, Chance’s Baby Ugh Sauce, Muffin’s Secret Ginger (for Tiara), and Seriously Miles?
And do the “kidz” agree with those characterizations?
“No,” Aisha said matter-of-factly. “I personally think I work hard for what I have. I do have an attitude, so that’s probably where ‘entitlement,’ comes from.”
Ramon, meanwhile, who has a goal of working in law enforcement, replied with a shrug: “I wouldn’t say I’m slow-moving. I’m more nonchalant.”
Going forward, Ervin said he said he does not want to build the business the traditional way, seeking shelf space at store after store. The goal, instead, is to do several “in-stores,” that is, setting up a table and inviting shoppers to sample the sauce and meet the family. They have done a couple already and participated in the Endless Summer Waterfront Festival in Hull.
“The response was so overwhelming,” Ervin said. “Not only do people like the sauce; they like the stories.”
And yes, “Shark Tank” has called, but Ervin declined the popular ABC show that pits investors such as Mark Cuban against one another as they vie for a stake in entrepreneurs’ products. Ervin does not want to give up a large portion of 9LazyKidz. He hopes his children will be inspired to eventually expand the business.
Ultimately, “we have fun,” Ervin said of day-to-day life in his bustling household. “I don’t think I’d have it any other way.”Taryn Plumb can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.