Suzanne Schmidt is confident, straight-forward, and also a great cook. Her flavours are rooted in her Guyanese background and all include heat, but her products deliver more than that burning sensation. Her products are carefully crafted to showcase flavour, featuring sweet mango, lemon and pineapple, savoury garlic and onions and artfully combined spices.
Last December, she registered a business and began to build a clientele for her jellies, marinades, salsas and hot sauces. In a trailer converted into a commercial kitchen by her supportive husband Tony, she quickly found an audience for her product line. Foodland Millbrook began to carry her product in March. That’s when she took the leap of faith and quit her full time job to dedicate her time to her new business.
Looking to build her customer base, she contacted the Manager of Sobey’s in Peterborough. Armed with samples and paperwork, she met with and within a few weeks, an entire tower of her products featured in the deli area of the Peterborough store. Her samples were convincing: the manager admits that he uses her salsa on his eggs every morning. Another customer carries one of her sauces in her purse every day. That’s loyalty.
This summer, Suzanne’s Hot Stuff was selected by Peterborough & the Kawarthas Economic Development Starter Company Plus Program which provides a crash business course with in-class training, mentorship and, yes, homework for aspiring entrepreneurs with a new or expanding business. It was hard work but paid off. Her business was also awarded one of the $5,000 grants based on the strength of her business plan. It has been put to good use.
Schmidt and her husband moved to Millbrook in 2018 to a century home on Fallis Line where she grows some of the ingredients for her products including a variety of hot peppers. She is grateful her products are easily stored at room temperature given a pending move that has her looking for a new production location.
In the meantime, the enthusiasm for local products has potential vendors calling her instead of vice versa. She recognizes how unique it is for a new food business to grow so quickly, and appreciates her adopted community, saying “I am truly blessed to be a part of this amazing Millbrook community who have shown me nothing but love and support. I am also grateful for Peterborough & the Kawarthas Starter Program Plus which has equipped me with the tools I need to have a successful business. I look forward to serving this community and many others for a long time to come.” KG