Brooke Sehenuk always had a passion for food and years ago, began making mustard and giving it to family and friends as Christmas gifts. Little did she know, her passion for food eventually would lead to a successful business with her husband, Matt, and a high honor at the Napa Valley Mustard Festival.
When Sehenuk decided to pursue her passion for food and open her own business, the only thing she knew is whatever food she made, she wanted it to be something that could be packaged.
That is when her husband recommended mustard. She had been making it for years and by then, people were requesting it, according to Sehenuk.
They began the business making sweet and spicy mustard, hot wing sauce and barbecue sauce.
Over time, Sehenuk added eight more mustards – beer and garlic, which is made with Yuengling Beer; dill and garlic; blueberry, which is the third highest seller; strawberry; mango habanero; keylime and pineapple; apple and pumpkin; and cranberry and honey, according to Sehenuk.
The products also are all natural and have no preservatives in them, according to Sehenuk.
Not before long, the demand grew so rapidly that Sehenuk needed to resign from her corporate job and focus 100 percent of her time on the new business, Wild Mountain Gourmet.
“The day I decided to resign was a huge step. I think that making that decision and deciding to do this, I knew that I was going to make it work,” Sehenuk said.
The business became official last January. However, the product was not ready for sale until April, by the time the jar labels could be ready, according to Sehenuk.
Because of the cost associated with advertising, Sehenuk chose to forego advertising.
“Before running the business, I worked in the corporate world and understood sales and marketing,” Sehenuk said.
According to Sehenuk, she would take her products to farm shows and festivals.
“We did a farm show in June in Harrisburg. More than 100,000 people came through there. These types of events have really helped us in getting our name out there,” Sehenuk said.
The biggest accomplishment so far has been Sehenuk’s success at this year’s Napa Valley Mustard Festival.
Of the 19 categories in the festival, there were about 360 entries. The business won gold in the sweet and hot category for its sweet and spicy mustard, won bronze for its key lime and pineapple mustard and won the grand championship of the entire festival, according to Sehenuk.
“Of the 19 gold medals, they picked one grand champion and we were chosen. At the time, we were in business just a little over a year,” Sehenuk said. “One of my greatest moments so far was when they called and told me I was the grand champion. To be awarded this after only one year in the business was amazing.”
Today, Sehenuk deals with 30 different wholesalers in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, Florida and Virginia that sell her products.
“Winning that award has brought us business. It brought us four new wholesalers,” Sehenuk said. “There is a mustard museum in Wisconsin and they order a lot of mustard from us,” Sehenuk said.
Other local places that sell the mustard are Wegman’s, Weis, Tony’s Deli, Eagle Rock Winery and in the Williamsport Growers Market, according to Sehenuk.
The company’s long term goal is to be 100 percent wholesale, according to Sehenuk.
Aside from local farm shows and businesses, Sehenuk’s products may also be found online at www.wildmountaingourmet.com.