We had the good fortune of connecting with Susan Pincus and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Susan, how do you think about risk?
I have taken quite a few risks in my life and fortunately, they have all paid off. After graduating from Louisiana Tech in Vocal Music Education, my husband and I wanted to find a teaching job. Even though we were both born and raised in Louisiana and our families lived there, we realized we needed to take a risk and seek employment outside of the state, in order to make a good living as teachers. We both decided to interview for jobs in the Dallas area, as their salaries at the time were very good. We both scheduled interviews over a few days and both received offers immediately. The next risk I took was to change careers. I had taught vocal music several years in both the elementary schools and high school. I realized, however that teaching was not my calling. This was a big disappointment to my mom, who had been a teacher for many years. I knew I was very detailed oriented and would enjoy an office atmosphere, so I decided to work in the back office of a healthcare provider, following up on claims. I knew nothing about this field at the time, but I learned quickly. After 2 years there, I found out about a new, multi-specialty clinic being established in town and thought it would be a good opportunity to start with the clinic at its beginning and grow with it. The clinic opened with 12 physicians in 4 specialties and within 5 years grew to 75 physicians in 25 specialties. During that growth, I was learning the coding and billing guidelines for each specialty, as they were added. I was promoted to Reimbursement Manager and obtained my coding certification. After working there for 5 years, I was looking for a challenge. After being told there wasn’t any opportunity to become an administrator, I decided to find another healthcare facility that had growth potential. I interviewed with several facilities in Texas, Florida and Georgia and was offered jobs in all three places. It was a difficult decision, but I accepted the position at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia. This job required me to move my family (husband and 2 sons) from Louisiana to Georgia. This was a huge step, because we had to sell our house and move to a different state with the children. Also, I had never worked in an academic medicine environment before, which meant I was working with some of the most brilliant physicians in the country. This risk was the best professional decision I ever made! I spent 12 years at Emory and during that time, received several substantial promotions and helped to establish the corporate compliance office at Emory. I retired there as Director of Billing Compliance for Emory Healthcare. The most recent risk I took was deciding to start my own small business after retiring in Florida. I had developed my own recipe for Cajun seasoning over 30 years ago and gave bottles of it to family and friends. Even though many encouraged me to commercially produce the seasoning during all those years, I knew I didn’t have the time or energy to devote to making the business a success. Finally, over 30 years later, I decided to “take the plunge”. I had no background in starting a small business, but did a lot of research to find out what to do. Now, five years later, my product, SoLa Cajun Seasoning is sold in small specialty shops, market and restaurants in 5 states.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
It took me over 30 years to finally decide to commercially produce my SoLa Cajun Seasoning! I am a Louisiana native, but it wasn’t until I moved to Baton Rouge, Louisiana that I developed my recipe. I gave bottles of my seasoning to teachers, included in their holiday gift baskets, and to family and friends for stocking stuffers and hostess gifts. At that time, I was very busy building my career in the healthcare billing, coding and compliance field. Even though my friends and family encouraged me to commercially produce my Cajun seasoning blend, that was not the right time. Fast forward 30 years. After I retired from my position at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta and moved to West Palm Beach, Florida, I finally had time to tweak my recipe, get in touch with a co-packer just outside of New Orleans and get serious about commercially producing my seasoning. I did not know anything about building a business, but I did a lot of research and found out what I needed to know. The major decisions I had to make concerned how to: create a name and logo, establish a corporation, decide which methods of shipping to use, develop my pricing structure and set up my marketing strategy, including my website. Most importantly, I had to believe in my product enough to convince others to buy it! After I had made those decisions, I started hitting the road and visited many small specialty stores, markets and restaurants, giving out samples and explaining why SoLa Cajun Seasoning was special. I tell people my seasoning is unique because it is made with sea salt. This gives the blend extra flavor. It also has the perfect blend of flavor and heat. Just a little sprinkle makes your dishes taste incredible!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
West Palm Beach Florida is a beautiful city on the intracoastal waterway, just across the bridge from Palm Beach. We live downtown, in the middle of the action on Clematis Street, with numerous restaurants, nightclubs, specialty shops and a local live theater. Clematis Street ends at the waterway, lined with beautiful palm trees and docked yachts. Also nearby, is The Kravis Center, a large indoor entertainment venue offering Broadway shows and concerts. Rosemary Square, is just a few blocks south. It is a privately owned restaurant, shopping and entertainment district with something for everyone. Last, but not least, just a few blocks away from our condo is Brightline high speed rail which stops in Ft. Lauderdale and Miami. We could spend the entire week entertaining friends without having to get in our car.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I would like to thank my friends and family for their support. I gave them samples of my seasoning, they loved it and encouraged me for many years to commercially produce it.
Linkedin: Susan Pincus
Facebook: SoLa Cajun Seasoning