Name: Suzy Neal
Business: Unicoi Preserves
Location: Sautee-Nacoochee, Georgia, U.S.
Industry: Food & Beverage
Reason for starting? We moved to a rural Appalachian community and started sourcing produce and meat locally. Reading nutrition labels on pantry ingredients, I started questioning ingredients in them, a lot of which I had no idea how to even pronounce. I ordered a canning pot and jelly pot from Amazon and started making preserves and pickles for friends and family, then started selling them at our local farmers market. As demand for our products grew, we incorporated our business and found a small-batch, family-owned co-packer to produce our home recipes in their licensed facility. We are responsible for every other aspect of our business, marketing, sales and distribution.
How do you define success? I enjoy sampling our products at events and in our retail partners’ stores. Occasionally someone says, “I don’t like preserves, they’re too sweet,” but they try our products anyway and they are surprised they like them. Having customers who reorder our products and getting feedback from them and customers is a big success. It’s awesome to meet people who mention cooking our recipes from our website or say they’ve tried something based on what we posted on social media.
Biggest success: I have taken an idea that was launched as a creative outlet and turned it into a viable business with my husband. We are in grocery stores in over 10 states.
Related: The Afterbirth Entrepreneur
What is your top challenge and how you have addressed it? Distribution and sales to chain stores are a challenge. There’s a jungle of paperwork and no map to navigate it. We are poised for growth and are working to scale, but we have encountered roadblocks and continue to knock on doors.
Who is your most important role model? I don’t have any specific role models.
Edited by The Story Exchange