small businesses

Piano Teacher Changes Tune, Starts Line of Chili Sauces

NBC Universal, Inc.

While the coronavirus pandemic’s devastating toll on small businesses continues, a San Diego piano teacher found a way to supplement her music business using her passion for peppers.

Rebecca Ramirez's Succeed Music Academy" hit a sour note five months ago when business came to a screeching halt.

Ramirez and 12 staffers went from teaching hundreds of students, most of them children, to only a handful.

“When COVID came there was an immediate reaction,” Ramirez said. "We had very few students, I want to say 25 to 30 students out of the 200 that kept going for that last two weeks of March."

With income sliding down the scales, Ramirez needed a new business plan, or maybe a new business altogether.

“I really knew that probably advertising for new students wasn't going to work," she said.

With more time on her hands and a passion for not only making, but growing her own food, it made sense to monetize.

“I do love to make sauces. I love sauces so much I just started giving it to people. It’s something I have been doing for five years,” she said.

In a matter of weeks, Ramirez partnered with an organic farm in spring valley and began growing her own chili varieties. Starting in November, you can buy Pepper Queen Farms hot sauce online. 

If COVID-19 is the illness of small business, Ramirez says following your passion is the cure.

“You have to change. You have to adapt and figure out how you can do things better and not get stuck in the original way you thought the business should go,” she said.

Pepper Queen Farms hopes to open a tasting lounge in January. As for Succeed Music Academy, lessons are still taught online and the client list is recovering, according to Ramirez.

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