This article is a series highlighting the graduating businesses from the Business Advisory Centre’s Starter Company Plus program. This program has been a key stepping-stone for businesses and entrepreneurs looking to grow in the region and since 2017 has resulted in the creation of 74 startups and supported 47 business expansions. The program has also seen the opening of 22 brick-and-mortar locations in the region, and has created 141 jobs in the local community.
Kawartha Spice Company Inc., is a manufacturer of gluten-free Curry Powder, and Spice Rub Mixes for plant-based, poultry, red meat, seafood recipes and Rim Rubs for Cocktails such as Caesar. Branded as Conversation Tree, these curry powder mix and spice rub mixes are made with a number of pure natural spices selected for their superior flavour and premium quality. Individual mixes are used in recipes such as Jamaican jerk, roasted chickens, roasted rack of lamb, roasted beef tenderloin, roasted pork chops, baked salmon and vegetarian.
What was the Starter Company Plus experience like for you?
The experience that I gained from the Starter Company Plus program was invaluable. The validation/marketing research was a key component that resulted in me being very confident and excited to promote my line of Dry Rubs. I focused on the product being gluten-free, and on the aesthetics of the branding. The presentations by a number of small business owners were all relevant to the process of producing a professional Business Plan with a Financial Forecast. By the end of the sessions, I was prepared to present my pitch in a concise manner to a group of judges.
Where did the idea of Kawartha Spice Co come from?
As a celiac, there has always been a need to seek out gluten-free products. Back in 2003, I realized that many spice blends contain wheat as fillers. I embarked on recreating my mother’s recipe for Guyanese Curry Powder which contains 11 spices. It turned out to be extremely aromatic and very delicious, that I started to share the curry powder with my relatives and friends.
In 2011, I started researching the idea of marketing the curry powder, but it was not until September 2020 that I embarked on production of the Guyanese Curry Powder, and added 13 dry rubs to my repertoire. I want to share my love of using spices in my daily cooking.
My logo, Victoria Amazonica, is the world’s largest water lily, It grows in the Amazon, and named after Queen Victoria, and is Guyana’s national flower. These aquatic plants are also found in Kawartha Lakes.
What are your hopes for the business in the next 3 years?
Within the next 3 years, it is my hope to grow Kawartha Spice Co into a larger business, moving into a manufacturing facility in Peterborough, and employing staff. Kawartha Spice Dry Rubs and its signature blend, the Guyanese Curry Powder will be available in every province in Canada.
Kawartha Spice Co will be able to provide jobs which give individuals the ability to support other small businesses which will help to increase the region’s economic growth.
New rubs and seasonings will continue to be made in-house. We will continue to use spices and herbs that mix well together that take meal preparations to a new level of deliciousness.
Has it been difficult launching a new business during the pandemic?
Since March 2020, at the start of lockdown, we have seen a huge increase in cooking and baking. Cooks are all looking for new products and exciting ways to prepare meals. A brand new gluten-free product from Kawartha Spice Co has been able to find a niche in this new marketplace.
What has the response in the community been since you launched?
The launch date for Kawartha Spice Co was October 16, 2020. Retailers have all been very receptive and excited about stocking Kawartha Spice Dry Rubs, including the Guyanese Curry Powder. They immediately placed orders and have been reordering ever since. This leads me to conclude that the residents of Peterborough and the Kawarthas are wholeheartedly supporting ‘buy local’.
The Peterborough Chamber of Commerce has been instrumental in helping me network with other Chamber members.
What is your favourite thing about living and working in Peterborough & the Kawarthas?
It is a breath of fresh air living here in Peterborough & the Kawarthas. The natural surroundings attract many species of birds, for example, hummingbirds, that visit us in summer, sipping from the nectar in the flower gardens, and other birds that drink and bathe in the birdbaths.
Working, as a small business owner, is very rewarding as fellow residents and entrepreneurs genuinely care about supporting Kawartha Spice Co, as well as all the other small businesses in this region. Such support is evidently beneficial for the sustainability of small businesses and has a positive effect on the economy of Peterborough & the Kawarthas.