For local couple Liz and John Newton, self employment has been their way of life.
Dealing antiques, freelance journalism, and most recently, their own line of hot sauce.
“You have to find a niche area, and then pluck it and you can’t be afraid to talk to people,” John said.
“You have to lift through the ups and downs,” Liz said.
“You have to work hard,” John added.
Although John still works a bit as a freelance reporter, he’s slowed down lately due to health reasons.
Now, their mainstay is Awesome Sauce; a unique hot sauce they’ve been working on for the past few months.
“We started off at markets in Victoria, and from there we went ant it became quite popular very quickly,” John said.
They’ve since expanded to sell their product at Lake Cowichan’s Hans’ Butcher Shop, and plan on expanding even further in the near future, Island-wide with a new distributor.
This is in part thanks to the hot sauce’s catchy name; a name John and Liz got from their daughter, unbeknownst to them already a popular phrase.
Also helping their product is a cute logo, with the family’s two cats Lola and Max featured. This has helped attract more tourists to their product.
“We’ve just been jacks of all trades all our lives, so this isn’t too big a change,” Liz said, of the Awesome Sauce.
With the Awesome Sauce has come some unique challenges.
“It’s hard to grow from this stage when you’re selling to smaller stores and going into the large supermarkets,” Liz said.
Although the large supermarkets claim to sell local products, it’s financially difficult for smaller businesses to get their product into them.
There are advertising costs, distribution costs (they typically don’t want individual business owners coming in and out of the store with product) and in some cases payment for shelf space.
“You have to be prepared to wait, and to take the kicks as they coming along,” Liz said.
“Plus, you have to have something that is good.”
Recognizing the importance of supporting local business, the couple use as many local ingredients as possible, including peppers from Chemainus.
The couple hopes to keep expanding their business, and remaining self-employed.
It’s hard work, they say, but well worth it when taking into account the freedoms that come with it.
“I’ve always wanted to be free, and I am,” John said.