October 01, 2019
Whitney Frederic ’16 has been cooking since she had to stand on a popcorn can to reach the kitchen counter. “I’m a cook at heart,” she says. “I learned from my mom and my grandma.”
A Coatesville, Pennsylvania, native of Haitian descent, Frederic remembers the meticulous way she and her grandmother prepared chicken — first washing it in lemon juice or vinegar, removing the skin, and seasoning it with cilantro, parsley, garlic, onion and pepper.
The family-inspired blend was one of the first Frederic included when launching her business It’s Seasoned, which offers her own unique seasoning blends — all of which are low-sodium, containing 40 mg or less per 50-gram serving.
The low-sodium aspect of her products is inspired by her father’s struggle with hypertension.
“There are many people who deal with hypertension, and a lot of times it’s due to the foods we eat,” Frederic says. “I found myself wondering, ‘What can I do to help?’”
She turned to a longtime hobby — creating her own seasoning blends. It’s something Frederic has been doing since she was a student at Susquehanna, where she was among the first cohort of students in the university’s Broadening Intensive Opportunities for Scholarship (BIOS) program, which provided financial support to academically qualified biology students who are historically underrepresented in the sciences.
As a student, Frederic was always mixing her own blends from pre-existing seasonings to give her cafeteria food the home-cooked flavor she was used to. After foregoing a meal plan as an upperclassman, she began cooking for her roommates — rice and peas with tilapia and fried plantains.
“My friends definitely helped me get better in the kitchen,” she says.
During her downtime from her ongoing full-time job as a researcher at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Frederic leaned on Google and the Free Library of Philadelphia for resources on how to start a business. Then she took a part-time job with Instacart, a same-day grocery service, to save some money.
Today, It’s Seasoned offers six seasoning blends and two seasoning bases. In addition to her web-only business, Frederic is trying to feature her blends at farmers’ markets while also holding various pop-up shops.
Frederic credits the BIOS program for helping her see a career path and her liberal arts education for bolstering her writing and speaking skills.
“I’ve always had that entrepreneurial thread but was afraid of taking that leap,” Frederic says. “[The BIOS program] taught us to be independent and not take no for an answer.”