Silly Chilly Hot Sauce

Sufia Hossain, Owner 

“This country has given me a lot. To be able to do what I am doing, especially as a woman, is a blessing. I don’t take any of it for granted.”  

– SUFIA HOSSAIN, BANGLADESH | QUEENS 

Sufia Hossain, a woman with medium skin and blonde hair, smiles as she arranges a box of hot sauce inside a store, beside a brightly lit lighting fixture

Sufia Hossain is the first to say that starting a business is hard work. What began as a form of self-care became a career in 2015, when she left a corporate job to make Bangladeshi-style hot sauces full time with Silly Chilly Hot Sauce. Before the pandemic, a typical day for Sufia was spent on her feet: setting up and breaking down her pop-up food stands, making deliveries, and packing gift boxes.

Sufia sits on a stool with her arms folded, smiling, wearing a yellow apron. On the bar behind her are many bottles of hot sauce, with some people busy working behind the bar.
Sufia in a white knit cap sits at a table in a restaurant, folding boxes that hold her hot sauce. A white and orange tote bag sits on the table.

Shortly after New York went into COVID-19 lock down, Sufia was forced to move to an online-only model, no longer able to sell at pop up shops and festivals around the country. Sales quickly increased by over 600%, prompting her to dedicating a portion of hot sauce sales to nonprofits in her home country of Bangladesh. She’s also helping to add jobs in the agriculture industry – with sales increasing so quickly, Sufia plans to add additional farms to her production list.

Black and white photo of a street corner in New York City. An apartment building sits at the corner with store fronts on the ground level, people walking by.
Corner of Orchard and Grand Streets. Photo by Edmund V. Gillon Jr., Tenement Museum collection

Black and white photo of four young men in shorts and knee socks walking past Streit's Matzos. A street sign labeled Rivington Street is visible.
Streit’s Matzos Kosher bakery. Photo by Edmund V. Gillon Jr., Tenement Museum collection

Like Silly Chilly Hot Sauce, Streit’s Matzos knew how to adapt to changes in technology while remaining faithful to their culture and traditions. First opened in 1916, Streit’s began by selling handmade matzos on the Lower East Side, then moved to a newer bakery on Rivington Street in 1925, just a few short years before the Depression. For 90 years, they operated and grew there before moving to a more modernized factory in New York and developing a robust online store. Updating with the times allowed this small family business to thrive through the many hardships businesses in the United States experienced for over a century.

Color photo of a factory worker in a white hat and white gloves placing sheets of matzo into hanging baskets.
Streit’s Matzos factory worker placing sheets of matzo into hanging baskets, 2015. Photo by Joseph O. Holmes, Tenement Museum collection

Color photo of a Streit's Matzos factory working looking at the camera, standing behind a large piece of equipment under a fluorescent light
Streit’s Matzos factory worker, 2015. Photo by Joseph O. Holmes, Tenement Museum collection

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