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Member Spotlight: Sonia's Salsa

VSFA Member Spotlight: Sonia’s Salsa

Owned and operated by Sonia and Carlos Rivadeneira, Sonia’s Salsa produces world-class fresh Salsa Verde in Jericho, Vermont. Full of flavor, this salsa is made with tomatillos, a tart edible fruit often mistaken as green tomatoes. Their Salsa Verde comes in three heat varieties: Mild, Medium-Hot, and Hot. Sonia has perfected her recipe by creating a unique Latin flavor profile using only fresh, natural ingredients and no artificial preservatives. A lively and enticing salsa for people of all ages.

Having showcased her salsa at many social events, Sonia and Carlos were encouraged by friends to turn her recipe into a business. Taking their advice Sonia and Carlos began selling their salsa at the Jericho Farmer’s Market. Today their Salsa Verde is only available in stores and has developed a strong loyal fan base.

Carlos says that, “owning our own business is one of the most significant achievements,” they have accomplished. Business ownership has helped them develop entrepreneurship skills which they say were indispensable when introducing a novel specialty food product to the Vermont market. Carlos shares that, “Initially, very few people were familiar with Salsa Verde,” so they started with their local Farmer’s Markets, where Sonia could enthusiastically promote and sample their product. At first, both worked full-time jobs, so a benefit of ownership was the ability to, “manage our time and effort at our convenience.” Because of this, they “controlled (their) schedule to develop a viable process to optimize the production, procurement, and distribution,” says Carlos.

“In the beginning, we realized that Salsa Verde must become part of Vermonter’s menu,” Carlos shares when asked what challenges they their business faced. Product interest was slow at first as customers discovered this exquisite new flavor through sampling. He says that Farmers’ Market goers often shared that they never expected to find a great Salsa Verde in Vermont. Carlos credits, “Sonia’s entrepreneurship and persistence,” as, “vital to developing a new clientele.” Recognition of their brand began to increase due to word of mouth and sampling regularly at stores. “We found a way to promote Sonia’s Salsa and repeated this approach consistently,” says Carlos, thus overcoming their product recognition challenge.

Carlos shares that, “this year, COVID-19 challenged us in two ways; it disrupted our supply line and marketing strategy.” Many of their fresh ingredient sources became unavailable at the beginning of the pandemic which directly impacted production, halting it completely for several months. He says that, “to solve this problem, we had to open up new supply channels located farther away,” and they also, “needed to manage the demand more closely,” in order, “to procure fresh ingredients to maintain short lead times.” Another impact their business had was their marketing strategy through sampling. Due to health restrictions, demoing at stores has not been feasible. Looking at the positive, Carlos shares that, “fortunately, people ate at home because of the quarantine restrictions and continued to buy Sonia’s Salsa. All the work we have done before was paying off through these challenging times.”

Carlos and Sonia are proud to have, “launched a world-class Salsa Verde that is fresh and healthy and (has) received praise from Vermonters and visitors of all ages. Vermont has another product that is the best in class, and it has become a recognizable local icon.” Carlos advises new business owners, “to keep their dreams alive and be persistent, especially in this new world order.” He says it is important to, “take small steps to grow steadily and successfully,” and also, “build the reputation of your business passionately.” He also advises to seek expert advice from established institutions to help you navigate business ownership.

Membership with, “VSFA gives us the knowledge, motivation, and networking opportunities we needed to take our business to the next level,” says Carlos. Through recent webinars and annual meetings, they have been able to stay on top of the latest Vermont Food regulations. Carlos also values how they can, “see how other similar companies solve their growth challenges and implement new strategies,” but, “most of all, we meet and network with other owners and decision-makers who share their experiences.”

To learn more about Sonia’s Salsa, their products, story, and more, visit their website www.soniassalsa.net, Follow them on Facebook, or contact them at info@soniassalsa.net.