During 2017 Small Business Week Diva Foodies is excited to share the stories of entrepreneurs working in the culinary world. Please meet Suzy Neal, co-founder of Unicoi Perserves, who, along with her husband, turned a jelly pot and a canning pot into a divalicious growing company.
Diva Foodies: How does your product reflect your passion for food?
Suzy Neal Unicoi Preserves: We live in a small, close knit community in the mountains of northeast Georgia wine country. When we moved to Sautee-Nacoochee full time 9 years ago, we were amazed at the number of farms, food producers and wineries.
We started to have personal relationships with those people, and started to really look at where our food was coming from. Reading food labels, I started questioning what ingredients were in them that I couldn’t even pronounce.
We’re great home cooks and knew we could do better. One day, Clark brought two big boxes in from our front porch and asked me what they were. I said, a jelly pot and a canning pot. Typical man question, What are you going to do with them? And Unicoi Preserves was born!
Our Unicoi Preserves are all natural, made from ingredients that grow in our Appalachian region, by hand, in small batches. Our products are classified as Spreads instead of jam or jelly because we are about half the sugar of those products. We started with 2 products, have grown to 5 and will be adding a new flavor later this summer.
Diva Foodies: What one tip would you give to a person who wants to start a food-product business? Why is this tip important to you?
Suzy Neal Unicoi Preserves: Always be prepared to talk about your product and know that you are always ON. As you grow your presence and brand, people will ask you about your food company at times when you think you are OFF.
You will never be OFF any more because opportunities always present themselves to talk about your business, regardless of what you are doing. It’s not a bad thing, but it’s something Clark and I had to learn early on.
Diva Foodies: The success of business is selling your product to people who will become repeat customers. Many factors go into the equation. A big one is marketing. Which social media channel works best for your brand and why?
Suzy Neal Unicoi Preserves: Instagram. A picture is worth a thousand words.
Everybody likes to look at tasty pictures of food. And there are no calories in looking!