Curio Spice Co
What gave you the push to branch out and start Curio Spice Co?
I've always been curious about "the story behind the ingredient." In 2011 I raised money on Kickstarter to travel to Greek Macedonia to harvest the spice saffron and write a book, and ever since then I have been crazy about spices and where they come from. I then took the leap to leave my steady & delicious job at Sofra Bakery and travel to South Asia so I could learn more about the spice industry there. After that it was just a matter of figuring out how to start a business from scratch—turns out it's a lot like traveling solo: stay alert and don't lose your wallet!
What Boston-area maker(s) do you admire?
I love my friend Shira Melen's French macaroons. Her flavors are incredible and she is a master of this delicate cookie. Plus she made my husband and my wedding cake, which was off the hook.
Any advice for someone looking to start his or her own business?
Have you traveled alone in a non-English speaking foreign country for some extended period of time? It's a great analogy. For starters, learning the language of small business is not unlike learning a foreign language that takes practice, discipline and a willingness to mess up. And before you start the journey you need to save up money, plan carefully, talk to a lot of people, make sacrifices, understand your strengths and weaknesses, and overall have courage.
What is something most people don't know about Curio Spice Co?
Curio is a registered public benefit corporation, a type of business "whose core mission is to create a material positive impact on society and the environment." (see http://benefitcorp.net/faq) Curio specifically intends to support gender equality by sourcing from women-owned businesses when possible, as well as sourcing ingredients from New England farms to support the local economy and reduce carbon emissions. For spices from abroad, Curio chooses to work directly with farms and coops, choosing organic and paying a fair trade price. Our packaging is entirely U.S. manufactured. In addition to responsible sourcing I hope that as Curio grows we can contribute to local charities and educational initiatives as well!
What is one of your favorite spice destinations?
Sri Lanka. It's a dazzling and sensual island of fragrant cinnamon, delicious curries and tea made from delicate flowers. Something resonated with me when I visited, and I hope to return soon to deepen my relationship. (Also it's the birthplace of one of my favorite authors, Michael Ondaatje.) I am now sourcing many of my spices from this country as there is a growing community of small organic spice producers.