#InTheLoop | Jamaica Resident Makes Hot Sauces + Even Hotter Face Masks
BY QEDC It's In Queens
Sufia Hossain left her career as a fashionista to start Silly Chilly Hot Sauce after falling in love with the multifarious colors, shapes, and sizes of peppers she encountered at farmers markets in New York and New Jersey. Within about four years, her products are in more than 100 stores across the TriState Region and even as far away as Los Angeles.
Now, Hossain, an immigrant from Bangladesh who lives in Queens, is dipping a toe ─ or rather a paintbrush ─ back into fashion, making and selling hand-painted, protective face masks adorned with chili peppers via her website.
For Hossain, who’s been painting since she was 10 years old, the masks combine three of her passions — art, service, and chili peppers. She got the idea to launch a company last July after learning about Artisan Sewing & Fashion NY Inc., a Jamaica-based co-op of Bangladeshi women who produce hats, masks, tote bags, and other items.
“I really like their story. The two founders were garment workers and now they’re trying to help others by employing them to work from home,” Hossain said, noting that at first she planned to place an order just for herself, but decided to purchase a giant lot of the two-ply, 100 percent cotton masks to help the co-op as much as possible.
The adult mask retails for $30, while the children’s version costs $25. Hossain hand-paints them with red, green, or yellow chili peppers, and she insists each is one-of-a-kind, much like Silly Chilly’s sauces. The peppers on the masks correspond to her products: red for Habanero Super Duper Hot and Serrano and Chipotle; yellow for Fresh Mango and Sweet Peppers; and green for Bangla City, a new creation that will be released this winter. Customers can enter the promo code “MASK” at checkout for free shipping.
Hossain hopes to continue working with Artisan Sewing & Fashion as Silly Chilly grows, noting that it all comes down to service. “At the end of the day, business is for the people, you know,” she says. “I started Silly Chilly Hot Sauce because I wanted to help the farmers. It’s the same thing with the masks [and the co-op].”
Plus, this business is personal for Hossain, a COVID-19 survivor. Says she: “I think I’ll continue to wear masks for a long time.”