Q&A with Susan Varilias of Lazy Susan’s Granola
Scrumptious Secrets: Can you tell us about your founding story?
Susan Varilias: I spent most of my adult life in an accounting career (15 years!). When my three kids were grown, I wanted to make a change. I’ve always loved baking and going to farmers markets. Five years ago, I started selling products at markets and trying different baked goods and jams to see what customers gravitated to. People really liked my granola, so I went all in with different varieties and flavors and it just took off from there!
We are a small, family-run business, and my daughters and son all help out. It’s a lot of work to be a family-run business. It’s 24/7, but sometimes it doesn’t even seem like work because we are doing what we love. It’s been a big change from the structured, corporate world, but what I like about being on my own is that I’m always learning something new.
SS: What’s your favorite part about running your own business?
SV: The best part about my job is the people I meet every day at farmers markets, local stores, and in the community. Everyone in this type of business is so friendly and helpful because we are all local entrepreneurs and family-run businesses. Everyone supports each other, and that has been the greatest thing.
SS: What does it mean to you to be a woman-owned business?
SV: I am pretty proud of it! There have been some obstacles, such as when I approached large stores and noticed it was all men working at the top as I was trying to get my foot in the door. I didn’t let that stop me, and I’m proud of myself for trying to get past these men. I like to help other women and tell them not to be afraid to try on your own. If it's something that you're good at, you will be successful.
SS: Who is an inspirational female in your life?
SV: I have grown daughters and I told them the other day, “YOU are my inspiration. You are what keeps me going.” They are both independent, educated women who are doing what they love. They are not just sitting back saying “Oh, we are women and we can’t get what we want.” They are constantly improving themselves, getting better jobs, and going after it. That is my inspiration. I also see so many women younger than me who are my inspiration. If you can do it at a young age, why can’t I?
SS: What do you hope for young girls today and the next generation of women?
SV: It’s more than what I hope for; it’s what I see! Women today are trailblazers who are doing what they want to. They don’t see the same obstacles that I did growing up. I see women and girls now setting their sights on something and they don’t see it as out of the ordinary that they have high goals for themselves and they will meet them. It makes me happy to see that they see that as normal. Not that it’s easy to make their way to the top, but they see it as a much more achievable goal than I did.
SS: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
SV: At Lazy Susan, we use local and sustainably-sourced products as much as we can. Our oats are from River Valley Community Grains in Long Valley, and our maple syrup is from the Maple Shop in Chester. We are lucky to be part of a great community of people who all support each other. We’ve built this community, and that’s what keeps me going. Our Northern NJ community is proof that it really can be done. I didn’t know anyone when I started this. Next thing you know, we are all connected.
Lazy Susan's Granola is a female-owned business that we absolutely love. Founder Susan Varilias left her accounting career to turn her joy of baking into a business. Baked fresh every week with organic maple syrup, Susan also packages and delivers this delicious granola herself. Thank you Susan for sweetening our lives!