Q&A with Liana Testa, Quinnipiac University student and founder of Testa's Pasta Sauce, conducted by Jalen Worstell and Carlos Regueral. The Testa family emigrated from Naples, Italy in 1976 and, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Liana launched her family's sauce-making tradition into a local business.
Why did you choose to be an entrepreneur?
Liana Testa is an international business major at Quinnipiac and, ever since she was a little kid, she has loved to make things. She also loves seeing things through from start to finish– something that inspired her to start this sauce company.
When she first had the idea of selling her family's sauce during the COVID-19 pandemic, she was thinking of directly using e-commerce, as it was the best way to conduct purchases and orders. This way, people could order her sauces and they would be shipped straight to homes with minimal contact to other people– completely avoiding going to the grocery store. Liana doesn’t want to take all of the credit for this business, though. While the e-commerce website and business startup was her work, the sauce’s recipe comes directly from her family!
Tell us about your business.
Liana Testa is the founder of Testa’s Pasta Sauce company, the only skinless and seedless pasta sauce. The company removes all skins and seeds from tomatoes themselves for people with diverticulitis and certain dietary restrictions. That way, all customers can enjoy their pasta sauce.
Testa's Pasta Sauce uses a co-packing facility in which they bring their own equipment and all natural ingredients. From there, they make their own sauce before co-packing facility bottles it. Then, Testa’s ships the sauce from their warehouse to consumers using an e-commerce website through Squarespace, as well as through Amazon.
The company was started two and a half years ago, and the hardest part of their journey was finding a co-packing facility that was willing and able to meet all of their needs. Once they found a match, Testa’s was able to build on a great relationship– working with the same co-packing facility to this day.
“We have been doing really well since then, and our sales online have been great!" Liana said.
Liana now sells locally at her banquet facility in Southington, CT, called Testa’s, and in local markets such as Thyme & Season in Hamden, CT. But, most of their sales are completed via online purchases from their website and Amazon.
Has being a woman in business impacted your experiences with your company?
“Being a woman in business, you definitely need to be a little aggressive at times and you can’t take no as an answer. There could definitely be a little bit of push around, but as long as you are persistent and you are staying on your objectives and goals, then you are going to be successful," Liana said.
“And as long as you are confident in your product, then you are going to do really well!" Liana added.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Liana sees this company remaining online and making efforts to stay away from brick and mortar stores. She wants to focus on local shops like Thyme & Season because of their efforts to give back to the local communities and focus on healthy products. Nonetheless, she is not really interested in large corporations like Stop & Shop or Big Y. Testa’s Sauce will continue to tailor towards people with certain diets that require special recipe needs, along with anyone who’s just looking for high quality pasta sauce.
Eventually, Liana would like to see Testa's Pasta Sauce spread nationwide, although it will take some time before people begin to recognize the brand and the sauce.
What advice would you give to a young woman looking to start their own business?
Liana’s advice is to value the importance of research, be passionate about what you’re doing, and to not be afraid to make it into a side hustle. Try to find a balance. And, if you are a student, as long as you are doing your homework and keeping up with classes, don't be scared to have a project on the side while you’re still in school.
“If it takes 10 hours a week, then it takes 10 hours a week. You are going to be working towards something and I think that is something to be passionate about. And, especially as you graduate, it is something great to put on your resume and spark conversations,” Liana said.
And for Quinnipiac University students like Liana: There are a ton of really great resources ready for you to take advantage of them. Liana didn’t realize how many there were until she was finally a senior. All freshmen should be made aware that professors are willing to help you and will often go out of their way for you. When you get into the real world, you won’t always have this kind of close support at your fingertips.
Want to get in touch with Liana or learn more about Testa's Pasta Sauce?
You can visit their website linked here. Or, you can check out Testa's Pasta Sauce on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter @Testassauce.