Alice and Alicia Crowe are identical twin lawyers turned sauce-entrepreneurs who are now working on a different type of case, bottling and selling Emmaline’s All-Natural Hot Sauce, a family-owned line of hot sauce that is three generations old and is made from their grandmother’s original recipe. As proud graduates of Howard University School of Law, the two have been working together for 20 years as attorneys in their own practice handling legal cases, but now they are teaming up to keep their family legacy alive.
Love that sauce
“If you love good home-style cooking, then you know you’ve got to have this sauce. We make our hot sauce the traditional way with fresh peppers, herbs, spices, and simple homespun goodness, just like our grandmother, Emmaline. A thick, rich, smooth well-seasoned peppery flavor that leaves just enough kick on your tongue to spark your joy!” says Alicia, who practices real estate law and is the author of the book Real Dads Stand Up! What Every Single Father Should Know About Child Support, Rights and Custody. Alicia spent over two decades training service providers and helping single dads and mothers navigate the legal system and stay connected to their children. Alicia also performed a live tribute album to the late Alberta Hunter on Spit Slam Records.
“The re-launch of Emmaline’s All-Natural Hot Sauce is driven by customer feedback during the past challenging year, and our desire to take what our mother started and keep it going. People sent us email telling us how much the sauce meant to them. Mom’s hot sauce was a comfort food that was also healthy. We knew we had to resurrect it back on the market,” says Alice Crowe who handles the firms’ civil litigation. She is a cancer survivor and founder of a group, Black Girls at Ease, to help Black women and girls create healing circles and find resources that promote ease in their lives. Alice is also the author of How to Get Black on Track, a self-empowerment guide. She currently writes a blog, the UrbaneVoice.com.
“The sauce was Emmaline’s dream. So, we named it in her honor. It’s one of her original recipes. The photo on the bottle is Emmaline’s wedding photo in 1910. This past year we’ve had tough challenges, lots of pain and loss. When we were in quarantine and taking care of our mother, we promised her we would not let her dream die,” says Alice.
The twin’s mother, Gwendolyn Stinson Crowe, taught them how to make the sauce that is an original recipe of her mother, Emmaline. They helped her realize her dream of bottling and selling sauce. Gwendolyn began selling the sauce at local farmer’s markets and doing food tastings in the tri-state area. In 2007, Emmaline’s Hot Sauce won the Whole Foods Local Hero Award. Gwendolyn learned how to cook from her mother, Emmaline Humphries Stinson. Gwendolyn passed away last year during the pandemic. The twins hope to expand the product line to include other food products and all-natural items.
“At Emmaline’s, we work to create moments around the table that matter.” Food is a part of our rich cultural heritage and our African tradition. We spent Sunday evenings around the table with great food and spirited discussions. We must keep that alive,” says Alicia.
Emmaline ran a successful catering business in Dothan, Alabama. She learned the trade from Pauline Stinson. Pauline owned a restaurant on Claxton Street in Elba. The restaurant served the Elba County jail, jurors, visitors to Courthouse Square, and Elba’s “colored” residents at the Emancipation Day Celebrations on May 28, 1907, and 1923. When the Pea River flooded and engulfed Elba, Ms. Emma cooked food to help flood victims.
Emmaline’s Specialty, Inc. donates a portion of all sales to charity. One charity they support is the Black Land Trust. Because their great-grandmother, Pauline Stinson, once owned 100 acres of land in Elba, Alabama, by 1900. A period when formerly enslaved people amassed 14 million acres of land. Like so many other Black families in America, after the turn of the century, 90% of that land was lost and wrangled away from Black ownership to White ownership, thus creating the wealth gap that exists today.
The Stinson House, a property owned by Pauline & Martin Stinson, was recently designated an Alabama Historic Landmark. Our African American family owned the home for 102 years. It currently houses the Elba Alabama Chamber of Commerce. According to the Elba Fire Department, the Stinson House was recently destroyed by fire just before midnight on July 12, 2021. “Our Grandmother Emmaline once lived in the Stinson House. When we found out that the house was destroyed by fire, we knew we couldn’t let critical history disappear into the ashes,” says Alice.
The twins are also writers and documentary filmmakers and run their own production company A Crowe Flyz Productions. Their short film Last Disintegrated School, the untold story of Thurgood Marshall’s fight to desegregate the Brook School in Hillburn, NY, in 1943. The film is distributed by Infobase. They are graduates of Adelphi University.