When it comes to supporting small businesses in Lutz, there's a woman who seems to have her hand in everything—from sharing the secrets of her success with other entrepreneurs to promoting their businesses alongside her own, local Intensity Academy owner Michele Northrup thinks big when it comes to shopping small.
With the holiday shopping season in full swing, Patch checked in with Northrup to see why she's so passionate about supporting fellow business owners in the area, not only during the holidays, but year-round.
Patch: Shopping local and small has gained popularity in the past few years. Why do you think that is? And why is it important for people to support local small business owners?
Northrup: Our community is where we live, play and enjoy life. To improve our economy we need to start closer to home to make the most impact. Get from behind the big box UPCs and see the faces behind the brands in our own community. I think the local trend is here to stay. Each day if we all make a local choice either for gifts, produce or sauces, we will be keeping that money in our own community.
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Patch: What types of things do you do as a small business owner to support the communities that support you?
Northrup: We Sauce & Source everything right here in Tampa Bay! Our bottling plant, printer, glass company is all local. Our ingredients are all Fresh From Florida Certified! We also donate items to non profits, community groups and events locally. I also speak at area groups on how local small businesses can use inexpensive or free marketing ideas to help boost our local economy.
Patch: Lutz has a special place in your heart. What makes it a great place to live and work?
Northrup: I was the Guv'na of Lutz in 2007. My slogan was "LOVE LUTZ" and I truly do! I went to Lutz Elementary and grew up in this wonderful town. The community rallies together to support each other and they like to have fun along the way. I started my business the same week I signed on to run for Guv'na. I donated the proceeds at the various fundraisers for the campaign to the non-profits of Lutz with the Civic Association Grant Program. The community helped spark the fire in my hot sauce company. I am forever grateful to Lutz for the Saucy start!
Patch: What are you most proud of when it comes to the progress Intensity Academy has made since its inception?
Northrup: We began in 2007, the most fun I've had so far is related directly to Lutz! My ketchup was named the No. 1 in the nation through the National Scovie Awards. I was asked to do a food show with Ms. Paula Deen. I brought a big basket of Saucy Goodies as the Guv'na of Lutz to present to her. She said, "OK, I understand the whole sauce aspect, but girl, what the heck is a Guv'na?!?" Everyone started laughing! I told her, "It's kind of like an honorary Mayor, but Saucier!"
Patch: Why should people buy your sauces to give as gifts, and who do you recommend them for?
Northrup: We are a grassroots company who has won over 50 national awards in five years of being in business. Our sauces are all natural and we have flavors for every taste. We have our Saucy Box Sets & our new special: Unlimited sauces for $5 each! Great stocking stuffers! We have everything from mild BBQ sauces, marinades to wild hot sauces. They make great gourmet gifts for the cooks and grillers on your list, to saucy kin folks, co-workers, and the mailman— heck, anyone who likes to eat! They can view the saucy varieties at www.intensityacademy.com.
Patch: How can people place an order, what's the deadline for the holidays and where do you deliver?
Northrup: We have free deliveries in Lutz, Land O' Lakes, Carrollwood and Westchase. They can email us at: IntensityAcademy@verizon.net