Meet Susan of Susan’s Samosas
Susan’s Samosas are not Sudanese, or not just Sudanese that is. They are not just Kenyan or uniquely Coloradan. Instead, Susan’s Samosas is a conglomeration of these identities that embody Susan Loriho herself.
Originally from South Sudan, Susan was separated from her parents at around six years old in order to find refuge from a decades long civil war. She first sought safety at a refugee camp before eventually landing in a Kenyan orphanage, where she spent about 12 years helping with household tasks amongst the other girls and attending school.
Because she was separated from her parents at such a young age, Susan doesn’t know her exact age, but she estimates that she was around 18 years old when she was sponsored by a family in Boulder.
“My dream was just to get somewhere where I could go to school and have a better life,” she said.
Although in many ways this move made Susan’s dreams possible, it was not easy. She said that although English was her fifth language, it was the hardest to learn – taking her two years after moving to the U.S. to feel comfortable speaking. That first year in Colorado, Susan experienced her first snow, began working in a childcare center, and went from living among friends from the orphanage to living on her own. Although Susan had the support of her foster family, she was still having to learn to do many things for the first time.
A few years after settling into Boulder, Susan gave birth to her son, Spencer. As a new mom working in childcare and looking to give the best life to her own child, Susan had to quickly learn how to create quick, nutritious meals for her family.
“When my son was born I wanted to make sure he ate healthy foods and ate at home,” Susan said. “So when I started, I made samosas … I mixed up vegetables so that he would eat it.”
Like the experience of many parents, Susan hid nutrient rich produce in delicious, handheld foods to ensure her son would eat them. But, as it turns out, he wasn’t the only one who thought her samosas were delicious.
Susan started making samosas for church potlucks and work events. She loved sharing them with her community – plus they froze and stored really well, making her life a lot easier.
Cooking was just a side hobby for Susan until the pandemic hit and she lost her job. One of the first weeks of lockdown, a friend asked her to make veggie samosas and drop them off at her house. With nothing else to do, Susan agreed and dropped off the samosas. Her friend insisted on paying, and this became her first sale.
Susan did not have any social media at the time, so her friend took it upon herself to post a photo of the samosas on her Facebook with contact information for anyone else who was interested in ordering. That first week, Susan made $2,000.
Since she had just lost her job, when her foster family called and asked if they could help her make a website for her new business, she thought she might as well give it a shot. They helped her with the business paperwork, made her a logo, and helped her rent a kitchen to cook out of.
That first year, Susan made more money through Susan’s Samosas than she did at her previous job. “I came to realize that this is what I’m called for, this is what I need to do,” she said.
It hasn’t all been smooth sailing though. She still works part time, managing the kitchen at a Boulder church — the same kitchen she now cooks out of for Susan’s Samosas. She’s doing her best to juggle growing her business, spending time with her son, and taking care of herself.
“It’s kind of like a roller coaster trying to get it all together, but I’m doing much better than when I first started,” she said.
Despite the hardships of owning and operating your own business, Susan prefers working for herself than working for someone else. This way, she is able to control her schedule and have more time with Spencer. Sometimes he even helps her in the kitchen, or can be spotted by her side at the farmers markets.
Not only was he the inspiration for making samosas in the first place, now 11 years old, Spencer was the creative brains behind what is now Susan’s favorite item on her menu – the dessert samosa. Filled with fresh fruit and chocolate, the dessert samosa, while not traditionally Sudanese, is a mouthwatering treat that is hard to pass up.
Her menu also includes samosas with fillings of beef, chicken, mixed veggies, mushroom and spinach and a dairy-free dessert samosa, along with a few other Sudanese dishes.
Susan’s Samosas continues to grow, but she still primarily works alone, with a little bit of help during the farmers market season. She said that the more connected she is to the local food scene in Boulder, the more she is able to expand.
“Boulder County Farmers Markets actually helped me so much… I’m learning so much,” she said.
Susan’s consistency has led to loyal customers, more and more of whom return to her products each week. Even through the winter, Susan’s Samosas are available through the Boulder County Farmers Markets online store, allowing customers to heat them up for a quick, nutritious meal just as Susan has been doing for her family for years.
This year, Susan said she wants to continue growing her business, working on marketing and selling wholesale. But, she emphasized that while these are priorities, she knows she has to keep taking care of herself.
“For me, the most important thing is that I put myself first,” she said. “If you want your business to grow you have to take care of yourself first, your mind.”
To support Susan and get a taste of her delicious samosas, visit shop.bcfm.org.