Deep South Oil & Vinegar, a Houma-based business, recently celebrated its 10th anniversary proving small businesses can thrive!
Owner and operator Sandy Defelice got emotional when talking about her journey with the business. Working in the medical industry as a medical biller and coder, she found herself unfilled, “It wasn’t my passion. I love to cook and everybody was like you should do something in culinary.” Being a frequent shopper at Deep South, it was said in a conversation with the previous owner that she was thinking about selling the business, “I felt the pull the instance she mentioned it to me,” she explained. Sandy has always looked to cooking as a way to relax and said she felt like it was meant to be. She approached her husband, Dennis Defelice Jr., and the next thing she knows, they were sitting in a bank about to sign the papers, she said while remembering the day “I remember sitting in the bank and looking at my husband saying if you don’t think this is something we should be doing, please tell me now…I was so scared of taking that leap. ” Her husband supported her, and she figured since her two children are grown, now would be the time to do it. That was five and a half years ago in 2017.
Her goal as a business owner is to grow, “I always set goals and feel like I always have to do better because that’s how you grow,” she said. The original location was set in a corner of a shopping center on St. Charles Street in Houma. Moving to 412 Corporate Drive, she explained that the space is in a more visible area and it’s twice the size of the original location allowing her to expand on the products the shop offers to the community.
Deep South offers a large variety of infused oils and vinegar from around the world. The varieties change frequently, some from Spain, Greece, Peru, and areas that offer extra virgin cold-pressed oils. The vinegar varieties offered also have the “mother” in them which supports a healthy digestive system along with other health benefits. Sandy also aims to bring in local vendors that offer products such as handcrafted wooden spoons, handmade pasta varieties, hand-painted bowls, bread kits, and handmade items she makes such as salsa, pepper jelly, seasonings, spices, and more! Also, the shop helps recycle materials by letting customers bring in product bottles to be refilled for a discounted price.
When walking into the store, the first thing that you notice is beautiful wood flooring, handcrafted cabinet and shelving, and a shiplap wall, “I love wood,” she explained,” because it reminds me of our roots. That’s why I love the Cypress logo.” Sandy explained that the store is “her baby” and that it is rooted deep within her. The Defelice family just finished remodeling their home when Hurricane Ida hit the area. Other than one room, the family had to completely redo their home, “My store was untouched,” she said. “So I would come here. It was my refuge, I would leave my house to come to something normal.” She said the storm made her realize just how special her customers are to her, “They would come in, they would vent to me, and me to them, and then all would feel right in the world,” she said. This led to her pointing out the importance of supporting local businesses.
She supports local businesses as much as she can from advertising to providing local products to the paintings on her storefront windows, “Shopping locally to me is a must,” she said. Not only does the store, but she tries to support shopping small as much as possible, “I try to keep my funds local from supporting and promoting businesses like Southern Axe. I got my signs from Joe’s Signs. I try to keep our money local as well as personally, I shop local.” She has also expanded her reach by providing products for sale at a Patterson-based business, Southern Chaos & More.
What’s in store for Deep South Oil & Vinegar? Sandy said that she always looks to grow and won’t stop anytime soon, “My goal is to grow to be able to have full-time and part-time employees. Right now, I am owner and operator,” she explained. She does receive holiday help, however, she stocks shelves, opens, and closes the shop. Growing to the point where employees are hired is the next big step in her plan. To learn more about the products Deep South provides, follow them on Facebook, pass by the store, or shop online for your holiday needs!