Tao Huabi
Photo: ifeng/Tmall

Tao Huabi The Billionaire Chili Sauce Grandma Is Now A Fashion Icon

Tao Huabi, 71, was born in a poor village in China in 1947. Tao Huabi never learned to read or write but it didn’t stop her from becoming a billionaire. She ended up creating the company Laoganma Special Flavour Foodstuffs Co which makes the most popular chili sauce in China. The spicy chili sauces are sold in over 30 countries outside China and over 1.3 million bottles are produced a day. Her face is on every jar of sauce and now her face can be seen on shirts and sweaters on models walking the runway reports inkstone.

Tao Huabi
Photo: Sina

Tao Huabi grew up poor most her life. She was married to her husband when she was 20 but due to his poor health, she became the hustler in the family. She sold snacks in her hometown of Guizhou and with two sons and her husband to feed she barely made enough to get by. It wasn’t until her husband died in 1989, she opened up a noodle shop and that’s when she created her billion dollar chili sauce. Selling noodles in the streets of Guiyang she felt bad for the poor kids so she always gave any kid who was hungry free food. They named her Lao Gan Ma, or “old godmother” for her kindness and that is the name she would eventually name her chili sauce. People eventually stopped eating her noodles but they would come from all over just to get some of her sauce. She would decide to ditch the noodles and start to exclusively make the sauce.

chili sauce

At the age of 49 and with around $150,000 she started her company in 1997. It was a hit from the get-go and continued to get bigger. Starting with only 40 employees, the company now employs 4000 people and has an annual revenue of about $655 million. Her net worth is around $1 billion. She likes the fancy things in life and she can be seen around China in her fleet of cars from Bentleys to Rolls Royces. Now, normally a rich person flaunting her wealth would get a lot of hate. However, the Chinese people love her and her story. They labeled her the “hottest woman in China” and find her an inspiration.

This stardom has now spilled over to the fashion world. During fashion week in New York, models donned red apparel, the same colors of the red hot chili peppers, with Tao’s famous face on it. Shirts and sweater went for as high as $120 dollars.

Tao Huabi fashion

Tao Huabi fashion

Tao Huabi symbolizes the “Chinese dream” for many Chinese. She has a comforting look that’s more comforting than her chili sauces. The motherly figure has stepped down as the CEO of her company but she still works on expanding the business. “I am very competitive. I have to be the number one if I want to do anything,” said Tao to CETV3


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