Amiel's Hot Sauce
I had the pleasure of interviewing, owner and creator Amiel Leblanc of Maritime Madness Inc. in June of 2014.
Q: How did you start making your hot sauces?
A: Originally, I only made batches of hot sauce around Christmas time as gifts for family and friends. Once a year wasn't enough for some so I was asked to make batches more frequently. That's when I realized I could make a business out of this. I've been attending craft shows for years, displaying drums I make by hand. I started taking sauces with me to these shows to see how they fared. Eventually, the demand for my hot sauces grew until I was primarily selling those at the shows.
Q: What advice do you have for aspiring artisans?
A: Having a successful business is great, but you have to control your business' growth so it doesn't take over your life. I made sure I was able to work from home so I could spend time with my wife, Mandy, and our growing family.
Q: What advice were you given through the years that stuck with you?
A: None comes to mind, really. I have a business background from selling my handcrafted drums, so most of that knowledge translated when I started selling my hot sauces. I've made sure to incorporate my business into my life so I have full control of it.
Q: Where do you see your brand going in the future?
A: Right now, we're selling our products primarily through smaller craft stores. But we're in talks to have a few major grocery stores carry our hot sauce.
Q: What's the kindest thing anyone has done for you?
A: When I was 18 years old, I wanted to attend a wedding of a life long friend in Leola, Pennsylvania. Leola is a small town with around 5,000 residents at the time. The only way I could afford to attend was to hitchhike and camp along the way. After some explaining at the border, I stuck my thumb out in the Bangor, Maine area with only 2 days left to get there. I was picked up by a family in a minivan; they didn't tell me where they were headed, and I didn't ask. After a couple hours of chatting, they informed me that they were actually from Leola, PA and would give me a drive the whole way - almost 1200km. They let me stay in a RV in their yard upon arrival, and I managed to pick up a wedding outfit and arrive on time for the wedding to the surprise of everyone there