FLINT, Michigan -- Chuniq Inpower recently celebrated the one-year anniversary of 810 Tacos, an online taco seasoning business she launched at the beginning of the pandemic in 2020. Although 810 Tacos is a fairly new business, Inpower has been perfecting her original seasoning formula for over 15 years and has received rave reviews from friends and family, and now, from loyal customers all over the country.
The taco seasoning is made of a special blend of 10 all-natural herbs and spices, free of MSG and preservatives. One pack of seasoning is enough for one pound of beef, chicken, or turkey, and it’s versatile enough to pair with non-meats and vegetables. In addition, there’s a spicy version of the seasoning that packs a bold kick — a fan favorite that continues to sell out as soon as it restocks.
T-shirts are also available on the 810 Tacos website with clever sayings such as “Your Baby Mama Can’t Fry Shells” which alludes to the fried corn tortilla shell that’s a main staple within Flint’s unique taco culture. Currently residing in Atlanta, Inpower belongs to a specific group of Flintstones who have moved away, but are still connected to the city. With 810 Tacos, she’s able to uphold Flint food traditions while giving the world a flavorful taste of her hometown.
Flintside caught up with the busy entrepreneur where she spoke about her decision to launch 810 Tacos during the pandemic, the lessons she learned in the first year of business, the best taco spots in Flint, and more.
Flintside: In early 2020, we saw the rise and fall of many businesses due to COVID-19. How did you manage to keep going through the pandemic?
: “I started my business in a Black-owned coffee shop that is no longer in business as of two months ago. When I heard about that, it really hit me that I am blessed to have started a business in the middle of such a global crisis. The best opportunity was that while we all began to quarantine, eating dinners at home and with family was the center of our lives. No restaurants, no places to go - and the regular food routines were destined to get stale. This is where 810 Tacos seized the moment to inundate taco lovers from over 30 states with our unique, 10-spice flavor.”
Flintside: What are some important lessons you learned throughout your first year with 810 Tacos?
: “I’ve been an entrepreneur for nearly 10 years, and I believe in service. My biggest lesson in this first year is to respect and communicate with my customers to manage expectations and keep them happy. With shipping issues for the majority of our first year, I quickly learned how to talk through any missed deliveries and issues in distribution. No matter what, emails were answered and resolutions were found to ensure a smooth experience shopping with us.
“The second thing is to believe in your product. I represent 810 Tacos everywhere. I have personal merch, I use the seasoning all the time at home, I talk about it, I exude the brand. When you’re able to live your brand, it’s so much more authentic and relatable. This helps connect with customers and build real relationships. Food is a personal business. The more my customers know who I am, can see my “why” and are getting an awesome product, the brighter the future for 810 Tacos.”
Flintside: How has the response been from customers and your community since launching the business?
: “My customers are in love, with 42% of sales emanating from repeat customers. Once you try it, it's really hard to have tacos with those other packs. Many people are practicing healthier eating habits and our product gives the flavor without sugar, high salt, or artificial colors and preservatives. A customer favorite, the Bold + Spicy, will finally return on Cinco de Mayo and rejoin our lineup for the summer. More and more, I’m asked if there will be a restaurant - Perhaps!”
Flintside: This may be a little controversial considering the unique taco culture we have in Flint, but outside of your tacos, who would you say has the best tacos in the city?
: “I am team La Azteca at the moment! Each of them could use my seasoning (ha!), but ultimately, I think that each taco house has a different vibe. I love that La Familia Morales and La Azteca offer ground turkey tacos, my go-to. When I was in high school, I ate Tia Helita’s probably three times a week or more.
“Fun Fact: La Familia Morales was a sponsor of my first pageant where I represented Flint as Miss Riverbank Park in Miss Michigan Teen 2004.”
Flintside: What are some of your plans for 810 Tacos this year?
: “This year, we are expanding! Our growth plan for 2021 includes delivery in the Atlanta area (no more waiting for orders!), subscription packages to keep your stock up, and shakers for those who put it on everything as I do at home. We’re looking for Flint-area restaurants to partner with and add us to their menu.”
Flintside: What advice would you give to someone who may be thinking about starting their own business during these uncertain times?
: “Just do it!”
For more on 810 Tacos, visit: 810tacos.com.