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How Sufia Hossain Accidentally Made a Hot Sauce That’s Now Sold All Over NYC

When Sufia Hossain started experimenting with hot sauce recipes in her kitchen, she was already working full time and building a jewelry business. But, whenever she had some free time she would start tinkering with different ingredients again.

Within one year, her now sought after Silly Chilly Hot Sauce is being sold in one of the busiest shopping markets in the world – Chelsea Market.

In this episode we uncover what it takes to start a food business, Sufia’s relentless approach to getting her hot sauce on the shelves of stores all over New York City, and the steps she took to get distribution through one of the largest distributors in the world, W.B. Mason. As usual, we break things down to specifics, from understanding initial investment numbers to learning about how ingredients are identified for a product like this.

One thing is very clear – it takes incredible passion and persistence to succeed with any business, but especially a food business in one of the most competitive locations in the world. Sufia’s story is a perfect example of how to rally support from experts around you and find mentors that can help catapult you to success.

Show Notes

  • 2:00 Deciding to leave a 6 figure job at Gap Corporate
  • 3:00 Launching a jewelry business while tinkering with a hot sauce recipe for fun
  • 4:50 The "Bottom Up" approach to refining a hot sauce recipe
  • 6:15 The very first purchase of what would become Silly Chilly Hot Sauce
  • 8:05 Deciding to focus on the Hot Sauce company full time, and pausing the jewelry business
  • 8:45 How Sufia learned that this is her true passion
  • 10:12 Setting up a table at her first farmer's market
  • 12:20 Diving into the numbers - what it cost to get started
  • 14:03 The importance of starting before you're ready
  • 17:20 Changing her lifestyle to continue working on the business
  • 18:05 The concept of "push" vs. "pull" in entrepreneurship
  • 19:18 Deciding to distribute through stores, and starting to do door to door sales
  • 20:20 Becoming relentless about following up
  • 21:30 How Sufia got her first mentor
  • 23:10 The importance of approaching your network for help. No entrepreneur can know everything
  • 25:25 How Sufia got Silly Chilly Hot Sauce into Chelsea Market
  • 29:25 Breaking down the order sizes for stores and distributors
  • 31:25 How Sufia got distribution through W.B. Mason, the third largest distributor
  • 31:30 Setting the goal of becoming the official Hot Sauce supplier for WeWork
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