For most 9-year-olds, starting a business is the last thing on their mind.
But for Victoria resident Bowen Winters, his life experience of traveling up to six hours to Dallas many times while growing up to receive treatment for a rare medical condition made him want to return.
His condition, hemihyperplasia, is a rare one in which one side of the body grows significantly larger than the other due to overgrowth of bone or soft tissue, according to Boston Children’s Hospital. The condition comes with an additional risk of developing tumors, both benign and malignant, most commonly in the kidneys.
Bowen’s family first discovered he had hemihyperplasia when he broke his leg on a trampoline. At first, they suspected he had cerebral palsy, said Bowen’s mother, Karissa Winters.
“Me being a mom, I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh, he has cerebral palsy.’ And so we go and I go to the pediatrician. I find a specialist. And they send us to Scottish Rite,” Winters said.
Winters said Scottish Rite for Children, a pediatric orthopedic hospital, confirmed the condition, resulting in Bowen having to travel five to six hours there or to Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston for tests and treatment.
Bowen had to make the trips every week, then every other week, then once a month, to be tested and treated to make sure he didn’t develop cancer, she said. Whenever the family was in the car, Bowen would play on the Nintendo Switch to pass the time.
“It’s very scary because you’re sitting there, you know, waiting for these results whether your child has cancer or not,” said the boy’s mother.
That experience stuck with Bowen, as he would play with the other children at the hospital and not see them the next time he was there, never knowing what happened to them.
After Bowen turned 7, fewer visits were needed because his chances of developing cancer dropped significantly over time, Winters said.
During those years, Bowen watched his mother help his sister write and publish her books to help children with autism, and he wanted to try his hand at his own business venture. But, she said, he couldn’t put his finger on what he wanted to do.
Eventually, the idea came to him while he was at a restaurant with his family: Mustard. The spice he puts on everything, including grapes, was the business he wanted to be in.
“I like the spiciness,” Bowen said.
Bowen went through several recipes to make his mustard, trying to find the right texture and flavor, creating many runny, thick and bland mustards along the way—until he found the right formula for Bowen’s Gourmet Mustard while he was in isolation for COVID-19. he said.
Winters said she did market research and thought there was a chance the product would succeed, since not many mustards stand out like Bowen hopes his mustard will with his face on the bottle with his curly blonde hair. and a bow. tie.
They’ve let people in the community test the mustard and it’s been well received, Winters said. They are also close to setting up a commercial kitchen to produce the mustard and distribute it to stores.
However, Bowen did not forget his Scottish Rite treatments.
Once the mustard goes on sale, the plan is to donate 20% of its proceeds to the hospital to help families of children like him who have to travel far with accommodation and travel expenses.
Winters said the other 80% will go to Bowen to grow the business. Bowen said he hopes to add more flavors to his mustard line.
Winters said she is proud of Bowen because while she has helped facilitate the opportunity with some of her business expertise, he has had to put his full effort into product development, brand identity and fully commit to business, she said.
“That’s the thing with my kids is, ‘Teach a man to fish, right?'” Winters said. “If he wanted to do it, he had to try. He had to do the job. He had to do his due diligence to make it happen.”
Bowen will learn the financial side of the business along the way, and while the experience is a little intimate, he said he’s eager to see his mustard on store shelves.
Kyle Cotton was born and raised in San Antonio and graduated from San Antonio College and the University of Texas at Arlington. Cotton has covered economic development, health care, finance, government, technology, oil and gas, and higher education.