Sunshine Suzy: Entrepreneur living with Down syndrome defies odds to run national business
MARTIN COUNTY, Minn. — For generations, the Sukalski family has been farming in Martin County. But as successful as they’ve been they take pride in a different kind of corn harvest.
Seven years ago, Suzy Sukalski – who lives with Down syndrome – got the idea to sell her own corn nibblets. She was working as a hostess at the Hampton Inn when serendipity struck.
“They needed a local product to give to some of their guests and Suzy had these corn nibblets, and the Hampton Inn said let’s offer this product to our guests,” said Kristina O’Brien, Suzy’s sister.
They were an instant hit. And pretty soon other businesses came calling – including the North Dakota Corn Growers Association.
“The first order was for 5,000 and it took us probably three months to do that order,” said Diane Sukalski, Suzy’s mom.
But the demand was a sign of things to come. Thanks to Suzy’s engineer brother, new machines now allow her to package 400 one-ounce bags in an hour. Three years ago, Suzy got a new kitchen above the family’s garage, and in 2020, she took her business online.
“When we did that it went gangbusters, so she’s been sending corn nibblets across the United States,” said Kristina.
She’s even sent them to US troops in Kuwait. To keep up with orders, Suzy and her mom Diane are in the kitchen every day.
“I love bossing her around a lot,” Suzy said.
But it’s a labor of love. Because of her success Suzy, now 30 years old, has been a motivational speaker for other young entrepreneurs.
“Her possibilities are probably unlimited with support,” said Diane.
And Suzy has found support close to home.
“I’m so lucky to have my parents. They make me feel happy,” said Suzy. “I love my sister so much in my heart.”
“I am so proud of who Suzy is today. She does amazing things. She inspires people across the world,” said Kristina. “It’s just a beautiful thing. She’s spreading sunshine all across the world.”
Suzy’s family wants to thank the Fairmont community and everyone who has helped Suzy with her business. Click here for more information.