SEASONING SUCCESS WITH SPICES
Sylvia Kapsandoy, owner of Amboseli Foods, grew up in Nairobi, Kenya. She came to the United States to attend school in Idaho. She transferred to the University of Utah and moved to Salt Lake City. After graduation, she worked for a local manufacturer as a quality control manager. In 2008, Sylvia knew her career would undergo changes when an investment company purchased the company she was working for. She knew that she needed a backup, and as a hobby, Sylvia started putting together her own spice blends, which she began selling on Etsy in early 2010. In October 2013, Amazon contacted her to put her products on its website. Once on Amazon, sales tripled the first year, and she knew she had something big. Over the next two years, she sold what she could but didn’t focus on growing the business. In 2015, Sylvia began to scale production and found a commercial kitchen to rent. By fall 2016, the kitchen wasn’t available enough for her needs, and she started to look for her own space. “We looked in Salt Lake City and Ogden and couldn’t find anything that worked,” she said. “In 2017, I finally found a listing for a commercial kitchen space in Layton. It was perfect for us.” Sylvia continued to experience changes at her day job. The company she worked for was purchased and required her to relocate to the Northeast. She moved to Connecticut, and her employee ran the business, but the arrangement didn’t allow her to spend enough time managing Amboseli Foods, and her business began decreasing.
In 2008, Sylvia knew her career would undergo changes when an investment company purchased the company she was working for. She knew that she needed a backup, and as a hobby, Sylvia started putting together her own spice blends, which she began selling on Etsy in early 2010.
Luckily, she was transferred back to Utah in February of 2020, and in September of 2020, she quit her job and started working full-time for Amboseli Foods, and the business grew quickly. “I enrolled in the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program and contacted Andrew Willis at the Kaysville SBDC to help me with market research and my growth strategy,” she said. “I felt welcomed and supported. I had found mentors and resources that I wasn’t aware of. They were awesome!” Sylvia was grateful to Goldman Sachs, where she began to focus on how to get her business to the next level and understand the financial details. She now has five employees and plans to add more as her company continues growing. Andrew said Sylvia has prepared herself to be a very successful business owner through her positive attitude, vision, commitment to her customers, and determination to turn every obstacle into a strength. “She has been actively involved with the resources we offer,” he said. “Sylvia has also been a strong example and support to other small business owners, particularly as she participates in the ings and networking opportunities we offer. She is always willing to give back by helping other entrepreneurs.” On giving back, Sylvia responded, “We contribute to Kiva, which supports small businesses all over the world; namely, women and farmers in Third World countries.” Sylvia offered a key to her success: “Persistence! Find joy in what you do, even the most mundane things.” What does she like best about being an entrepreneur? “Accountability to myself and having control over my success and failures and owning that,” she said. “Some people do it for the freedom, but actually there isn’t freedom. You work your butt off, and you are always accountable to your customer, your banker, your employees, your family, and yourself.”
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