by Stella Shepard
Jim Graham of Souris West learned the art of doing home-style preserves with his mother growing up in southern Ontario.
The early experience of making homemade salsa eventually led Jim down the path to self-employment. He turned a hobby of 35 years into a home-based business and launched Souris Sauces in 2019.
Jim, a veteran, gave 10 years of global service to the Canadian Military Special Service Force as an Airborne Gunner. He later worked as a Quality Assurance Specialist in the automotive and the concrete industries for 25 years.
“The work weeks were long and stressful,” says Jim. “I would retreat to a backyard garden to combat stress. I grew tomatoes and peppers and I started making salsa as a hobby.”
A visit to PEI in 2015 with his wife Josee Stewart became a game changer for Jim. “Three years later, we were living on a four-acre property near the town of Souris.”
Souris Sauces produces small batches of hand-crafted salsa, sauces, and hot pepper jellies. The peppers are grown from seed without the use of chemicals or sprays and are processed on-site.
“This is our third season,” says Jim. “Retailers sell my products seasonally and year-round. I also sell at Souris Farmers Market. I sold 10,000 units in the middle of a global pandemic. This season, I hope to sell 10,000 units.”
About the staff
“Josee is the Chief Financial Officer and is also a Beekeeper and cares for hives on-site that pollinate the peppers used in the salsa. She is a very creative person and sells artwork and crafts as well. I could not operate the business without her.
“I plan to hire an employee for the summer through the Post-Secondary Student Program offered through Skills PEI.”
Community Business Development Corporation East (CBDC) is located at the Rural Action Centre on Main Street in Montague. CBDC East assists in creating small businesses and in expanding and modernizing existing business by providing financial and technical services to entrepreneurs. Services target entrepreneurs who require customized financing not ordinarily available from traditional sources.
Jim met Martina MacDonald, Executive Director of CBDC East, and Helen Antle, Business Development Officer, at a Small Business Growth Expo hosted by CBD. The Expo inspired Jim to expand the business.
“I started the business and purchased the necessary processing equipment without any financial assistance,” says Jim. “However, we got to the point where we needed an influx of cash to expand Souris Sauces.
“Through the financial assistance of CBDC East, I recently expanded the business to include a storefront operation. I invested money in the structure, which CBDC East matched.
“In my personal opinion, if you are a viable business, CBDC East can help make your entrepreneurial dreams come true.”
Jim has lived coast-to-coast in this country and has travelled all over the world, but chose PEI as his forever home. He became actively involved with the Souris Town Hall as a councillor for Souris West and he is a member of the Souris Lions Club.
“I believe if you support the community, the community will support you,” says Jim. “You cannot move to a place and expect to know the people and gain their trust if you are not community minded.”
For more information about Community Business Development Corporation East (CBDC), call 902-838-4030. Visit www.cbdc.ca
For more information about SkillsPEI, visit www.princeedwardisland.ca/en/topic/skillspei