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Community Highlights: Meet Sarah DeStefano of Celebration Time NC

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sarah DeStefano.

Sarah, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
I began making my original product, a salad dressing, 10 years ago for several family members with health challenges that mandated minimal salt and sugar use. Through the years, we started using it as a dip for fruits, crackers, bread, and veggies, as well as a marinade for most proteins. When we decided in 2019 to complete the process of bringing our product to market, we spent several months perfecting (and making healthier) the recipe. We completed our labeling and initial inspection in early 2020. During the pandemic, we were able to sell our product at the Holly Springs and Pittsboro Farmers Markets and have grown through word of mouth and selling at additional specialty food events. We are now in two area stores and are hoping to be in 3 additional specialty food stores by July. After making our pizza sauce and homemade pizza for years, we completed the required steps and started selling “That’s-A Spicy Pizza Sauce-A!” commercially in November of 2021. We make both products locally in Pittsboro at Angelina’s Kitchen, and all of our fresh ingredients are sourced from Chatham County farmers, many of whom I work with at the Pittsboro Farmers Market on the first Thursday of each month.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not, what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
First, entering the food business is not for the faint of heart. It requires patience, persistence, determination, a strong will, and tenacity. Since my products are consumer goods, I am regulated by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and the FDA. Both require a tremendous amount of documentation, but this process becomes smoother as I’ve learned many things on a trial and error these last 3 years. My biggest challenge as a business owner with no employees (currently) is to keep up with the demands of making my products, managing finances, participating in weekly markets, keeping my materials in stock (a big challenge), and finding time to update social media channels. I’m very fortunate to have aligned myself with WE Power, a group of women food entrepreneurs I meet monthly. I’m also part of Circle City Merchants, a group of small business entrepreneurs, shop owners, and restaurants in Pittsboro. Participation in both of these groups has opened up many opportunities for my business and given me a support system that is critical for my continual growth.

Appreciate you sharing that. What should we know about Celebration Time NC?
Celebration Time NC is a specialty food business located in Pittsboro. Our products are made locally at Angelina’s Kitchen, and our fresh ingredients are sourced from Chatham County farmers. We sell a multi-purpose vinegar and oil-based product that is great as a salad dressing, dip, and marinade. Our recently released “That’s-A Spicy Pizza Sauce-A!” is a spicy tomato-based product that adds zip to pizza and is a tasty addition to chili, a favorite marinara, or a dip; for mozzarella sticks and many other fried delights!

Our products are made with lots of fresh herbs and produce and are low in calories, sugar, and salt without compromising taste. They contain no animal or wheat ingredients, so they are vegan, vegetarian, heart-healthy, diabetic-friendly, and gluten-free. They offer healthy alternatives to much of what is offered in the salad dressing aisles of grocery stores.

The name Celebration Time comes from a saying my late mother always repeated to us growing up: “Surround Yourself with people who CELEBRATE YOU, not tolerate you!” We hope that customers will use our products and make EVERY day a celebration!

We’d be interested to hear your thoughts on luck and what role you feel it’s played for you?
I was successful in my previous career in software consulting and am becoming successful as a food entrepreneur through lots of hard work, determination, patience, and perseverance. The difference now is that working hard to build my business does not feel like work, and I greet each day as a new adventure. Not sure I believe much in luck.

Pricing:

  • $10/16 oz. jar – Dressing, Dip, & Marinade
  • $10/16 oz. jar – That’s-A Spicy Pizza Sauce-A!

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Stacey Sprenz Photography – first image.

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