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Female Founders: Suzie Carpenter of Savor by Suzie On The Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a Woman Founder

An Interview With Candice Georgiadis

In our world right now, we are undergoing a collective feminine rising — feminine energy is a beautiful balance to masculine. We need both — it’s yin and yang. Businesses are shifting, with conscious capitalism becoming more of the priority — that is what people relate to, feel good about, resonate with and trust. Tapping into this shift is one major reason for women to step up and become founders of their own businesses.

As a part of our series about “Why We Need More Women Founders”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Suzie Carpenter.

After 20 years of implementing a variety of dietary changes with her family, predominately a grain free diet that helped alleviate symptoms of autoimmune disease, gut issues and autism, Suzie Carpenter is the co-founder of the Savor by Suzie brand.

Eat to be your happiest self — the mantra Suzie taught her autistic daughter — is the passion behind the brand. At the core of the Savor by Suzie mission is the belief that just like every ingredient counts, so does every individual.

Suzie’s passion drives her focus on areas of product development, brand marketing and the company’s neurodiversity initiative.

Prior to launching the brand, as a nutrition consultant, Suzie worked with hundreds of clients to strategize how to implement dietary changes with ease. She is also the author of the book, On The Bright Side, A Mother’s Story of Love and Healing Through Autism.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

Absolutely! Our children are our inspiration. When our daughter was diagnosed with autism, Celiac Disease and numerous food intolerances, she and I became partners on a healing journey, using a diet recommended by her doctor. Watching the success of these changes, I became obsessed. I was reading labels and watching everything she ate to make sure she didn’t get sick or relapse.

The good news is that eventually I was able to teach her how to notice what was happening in her body so she could make her own decisions around foods that work for her or against her.

At the advice of friends who watched our journey, I went back to school to become a nutrition consultant so I could help others realize the same success we experienced.

As my own cooking style transformed into one that was extremely intuitive and focused on simple sustainable ingredients to bring out natural flavors in food, I began teaching cooking classes. This was a way to support my clients as well as to bring together women in the kitchen using food to ground us all.

Being a flavor maker, deliberately hand picking all of Savor by Suzie’s ingredients, is driven by my passion around the power of food.

Our family has been baking pretzels for over 40 years. We really wanted to create an allergen friendly pretzel with better for you ingredients that the whole family can enjoy. Bingo! We’ve created the best tasting pretzel that just happens to be gluten free, grain free, top 9 allergen free with zero grams of sugar!

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

A week after we launched our product at Stew Leonard’s stores in New England, we got a phone call from Stew. He said he wanted us to meet his nephew. A week later, we drove up to their store in Norwalk CT. We sat in Stew’s office and met with his nephew and his nephew’s wife. They shared with us some of the challenges they were having with their own son. All the of the memories of 20 years ago, when our daughter Kelly was diagnosed with autism came flooding back — and we realized that despite the organizations out there today, social media and other resources, parents still need other parents to lean on, commiserate with, confide in, and find compassion.

This is why we say autism is our superpower. It invites compassion into everything we do, It challenges us to see things in a new light, to respect all viewpoints, and to develop new ways of doing things. As we continue to grow, it is our dream to do more and more for and with this community.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Looking back at the funniest mistakes… I would have to say they were most definitely in my kitchen, while I was experimenting with different flavors. My intention is always to create seasonings free of MSG, sugars, starches or gums. But when I started, I really had no idea what I was doing!

For example, while working on our Lil Bit Spicy flavor, I bought a bunch of spices and vegetable powders to test. I wanted to create a flavor that had a hint of heat without being overwhelming. Trying to figure out how much of each and which powders to use was laughable for sure! Probably the jalapeno powder being the funniest — I opened the bag, stuck my nose in and boy was that a mistake! All I could smell for days was jalapeno powder!!

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I can think of a lot of people that have helped me along the way — and probably the most supportive would be my husband, Scott. But by far my greatest teacher is our daughter Kelly. While it can be exhausting and overwhelming to be a parent of an autistic child (managing behaviors, services, schools, therapies, diet etc), truly autism has completely changed my view of the world.

Every single day I use the three P’s to help me stay aligned with our core values and mission — patience, presence and perseverance. And each and every one of our neurodiverse team members remind me of this too, they are here to teach us, not the other way around!

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. According to this EY report, only about 20 percent of funded companies have women founders. This reflects great historical progress, but it also shows that more work still has to be done to empower women to create companies. In your opinion and experience what is currently holding back women from founding companies?

Limiting beliefs engrained from a long history of inequitable access to resources and assets that our male counterparts have been privileged enough to have based on their sex alone. Societal norms and gender expectations have certainly imprinted in our minds how we ought to be living our lives based on gender. I grew up in a family with five sisters in a time when women’s roles were defined by many generations prior. Gender stereotypes and inequality were prevalent in the classroom, workplace and frankly everywhere in society. We were not encouraged to speak up, in fact quite the opposite.

YET, several studies not only show that women are better leaders than men but also prove that women-led organizations have more profitable results than ones headed by their male counterparts.

Gender bias is similar to what we are seeing with autistic adults not being welcomed in the workplace. Our goal is to shift workplace norms to support the neurodiverse and to realize the benefits of neurodiversity just like those of women in leadership roles.

Good news! Gen Z is tapping into this reality and have done a phenomenal job of combating gender bias and moving towards a less gender derived norm society.

Can you help articulate a few things that can be done as individuals, as a society, or by the government, to help overcome those obstacles?

I think we need more resources to support women in business and women entrepreneurs. Not just to encourage them with mentorship or coaching, but also to provide sound business advice. Teaming up with like-minded entrepreneurs or leaders can be hugely helpful too.

For me, I also find my personal practices to be extremely grounding and supportive. It is through trusting my own intuition, and trusting Savor to give me the signs and signals of where we are and what needs attention, that I build strength and clarity. I definitely recommend exercises around intention setting, energetic clearing and purposeful positioning. Then constantly revisit those so as to continuously align with your core values.

This might be intuitive to you as a woman founder but I think it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you share a few reasons why more women should become founders?

In our world right now, we are undergoing a collective feminine rising — feminine energy is a beautiful balance to masculine. We need both — it’s yin and yang. Businesses are shifting, with conscious capitalism becoming more of the priority — that is what people relate to, feel good about, resonate with and trust. Tapping into this shift is one major reason for women to step up and become founders of their own businesses.

Another reason is that working for yourself, following your passion and purpose is the most rewarding job you’ll ever have. There is one caveat though, being okay with failure is part of the process. That’s what keeps us grounded in why we do what we do!

What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a founder? Can you explain what you mean?

Two myths to debunk around being a founder:

Only young people can start a business

You need to know everything before you start

The first one, well that’s been disproved many times over! While there are some potential barriers to being older, the easiest way to solve them is to hire talent in the areas where you need help. The founder’s role is to be the visionary, to keep the business aligned with its core values at all times, by tuning in and asking a lot of questions. As I always say in our team meetings, “let’s get present with this”, which simply means being curious about all aspects of the business, what’s working, what’s not and why. Then you lead your team to take action in the right direction.

Starting a business doesn’t mean having to know everything or think of the next big idea. Leveraging what you are passionate about and tweaking that to create a value add for others, solve a problem, is what’s key. Even taking something that already exists and improving on it in some kind of creative way is a great idea! Often it’s the simplest ideas that are the most successful…

Is everyone cut out to be a founder? In your opinion, which specific traits increase the likelihood that a person will be a successful founder and what type of person should perhaps seek a “regular job” as an employee? Can you explain what you mean?

It is possible that not everyone is not cut out to be a founder. No doubt, it’s a lot of work and a risk-taking proposition that many people simply aren’t comfortable with. Some traits that I believe increase the likelihood of being a successful founder are openness to learning, willingness to fail, perseverance, flexibility, follow through, and believing so strongly in what you stand for that you’re not intimidated by anyone who says No to your product or idea.

Being a “regular” employee means being part of a team and all founders need good teams to support their idea, mission and help drive it towards success. So, if you are more of the type of person who likes predictability and structure, you may find your success in a position on the team rather than as the founder.

Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

Little things all add up — consistently do the little things to see big things happen

TRUST the process and trust your idea, believe in your idea standing on its’ own

Don’t worry about your competition — use it to accentuate what’s unique about your product

Keep the big picture in mind, your WHY, at all times. Use it to let go of control and focus on what you want to see happen, the change you seek

People will resonate with your story as much or more than your product

How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

We believe in giving back to autism and we do this in several ways. Day by day, simply by sharing insights from our team on social media or otherwise. We plan to share resources on our website in the next 30 days that will be geared towards supporting the autistic adult community and their families.

In April, we had an autistic entrepreneur grant that we awarded to one individual which included the grant money as well as six months of mentorship with myself and the panel of judges, all working in the field of autism and neurodiversity. We hope to do this in an even bigger way as we scale and grow!

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

Hire at least one person with autism in your organization!

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.

Female Founders: Suzie Carpenter of Savor by Suzie On The Five Things You Need To Thrive and… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.