BY JOSE CARDOSO
The love Timothy Fraczak has for spicy foods takes him back to his childhood, but he never expected to start a business from it.
“I’ve liked spicy foods ever since I was a kid,” said Fraczak.
Fraczak is an entrepreneur and independent producer of a variety of hot sauces with locally sourced ingredients. He arrived in New York City in 2008. By 2015, he established his company Pepplish Provisions, a small business based in Queens, and he started production in 2016.
Fraczak experimented with hot sauces that are not only spicy but packed with flavor. He grew his ingredients at the beginning and now he produces the sauces in a kitchen inside The Entrepreneur Space in Long Island City.
Before offering his product to the public, he made batches for he and his friends. His wife suggested selling the sauces and before long, the business was born. However, he didn’t know where to begin.
“I didn’t really know what to do with the company at first,” he said. “I knew I just wanted to make hot sauces. That was something I was passionate about.”
Fraczak said that there was no motivation at the beginning, but after several discussions with friends and people from the community, he found his purpose. He wanted to create a social and environmental impact with his company to better the community. For example, his bottles are eco-friendly to minimize the use of plastic. Additionally, he uses paper-based cushioning.
The company embodies the sentiment of enjoying food and being able to support the community. An instructor at John Bowne High School told him about an agriculture program at the school where he was able to buy peppers.
“I went there expecting no more than 15 or 20 pounds of peppers,” he said.
Fraczak was blown away when he saw 120 pounds of green habaneros ready for him, peppers he previously had problems obtaining.
“How big of a garden do they have,” he quipped.
But things weren’t easy, as Fraczak experienced struggles when making his sauces.
“Creating something in a small batch at home is very different from creating something in a 50-gallon pot,” he said. “It takes a lot longer to heat up.”
The ingredients also play a role, Fraczak noted. There have been instances when he was forced to start over from scratch because of one ingredient.
But he persevered and has seen quite a bit of success, as Pepplish Provisions has received accolades across the county. Last year, his pineapple-lemongrass-ginger and blueberry-basil-shallot sauces won the International Flavor Awards held in Madison, Wisconsin. But he’s not letting that get to his head.
“The success of my business is not a reflection of who I am as an individual,” he said. “Jobs and businesses come and go and that’s the nature of those things. I am not my business and my business is not me.
Fraczak isn’t afraid of failing. He said that it’s OK if his business doesn’t go as expected or someone doesn’t like his products. He knows that criticism will come and it’s better to accept it.
Still, he acknowledged that being a business owner brings an emotional toll. When things are going great it’s a good feeling, he said, but when the business takes a hit, it can be difficult to share with people. Fraczak said he’ll sometimes begin to question himself.
“Do I need to end this business? Do I need to shut it down?” he said. “A lot of anxiety sets in.”
Fraczak has been feeling plenty of anxiety during the COVID-19 pandemic, but said business has been “pretty good.”
“Because of the pandemic, a lot more people are buying online” as an alternative to going out in person.