Small Business Spotlight (SBS) – Holy Spice By Divya Kaur
The past two years (2020 and 2021) have been years like no other for most of us. We all have our stories on how it unfolded and possibly still unfolding. Here is the story of one young woman entrepreneur who decided to follow her passion and purpose one cup at a time.
For Divya Kaur 2020 was a year of reckoning. According to her it made us rethink our relationships with nature, with others, and most importantly with ourselves. It propelled her to pursue her passion for holistic wellness through ethically sourced spices. She launched Holy Spice as a way of offering healthier lifestyle, with a dash of wellbeing into your plate! She wanted to extend the same sense of comfort she grew up having to everyone around her.
South Asian food is known for its use of spices to enhance its flavor, but the Ayurvedic science behind the benefits of each spice in the harmonious blends that grace our kitchen shelves is often ignored. The goodness of spices remains a well-kept secret with Indian household cooks who work up magic in the kitchen.
Let’s find out more about Divya and her vision behind starting Holy Spices
RGK: Growing up, we always have thoughts about what we want to be when we grow up. Do you remember what you wanted to be when you were 5 years old?
Divya: Honestly I didn’t know what I “wanted to be” even when I was 25 and still don’t. I feel like I had to narrow myself down to something I fully didn’t feel committed towards but as I grew up I did know that I want to help people; be it my parents, my friends, strangers or even farmers now via Holy Spice. I would crumple at the sight of seeing anyone suffer even if it’s on TV so I made it my mission to do good whenever or wherever I could and that’s what I want to stick by.
RGK: What one piece of advice would you give your younger self?
Divya: Take those risks early and often! Don’t be afraid of going with your gut or opting in for something adventurous because firstly that time never comes back and secondly you only learn more by doing. Talk to people around you even when it feels like a burden, set small goals for yourself and travel as much as possible. There is so much to learn and absorb around us that all those experiences will come into play at one point or another in your life.
RGK: What was the vision/the WHY behind starting Holy Spice
Divya: I grew up in Punjab, the Indian state of fertile farms and friendly folk. Growing up, I would spend my Sundays traveling to the nearby village with my grandfather for a visit to the Gurudwara (Sikh Temple). On our way back, we always stopped by farms where we played, spoke with farmers, and fed birds that were only to be found in those fields.
In the winter months, these trips ended with a fulfilling cup of warm kadha that my grandfather would lovingly make for me. Kadha is an Ayurvedic drink prepared with several herbs and spices boiled in water. Kadha is a natural immunity booster which has been made at home in India for generations and is often recommended as the ultimate home remedy for cough, cold, sore throat and fever. It’s made with natural herbs and spices and consumed as a tea. That weekly ritual became a valuable lesson in coexistence and engraved a deep appreciation for the traditional knowledge that sustains us.
RGK: Was there an aha moment that got you rolling on this dream?
Divya: Two decades later, that appreciation has translated into the conception of Holy Spice, a WOC-owned business committed to making wellness sustainable. My childhood interactions with farmers showed me just how much care and effort they put into the food they grow for which they are not paid nearly enough. I want to honor their dedication by ensuring that they are paid a fair wage through ethical sourcing of their produce.
RGK: What was your biggest hurdle to get you to this point? How did you overcome it?
Divya: If I am being honest, I had all the love and. support from people around me but time and finance were my biggest troubles. I am a full time consultant which takes up all of my time during the week so I only really had late nights or weekends to work on my venture. I had to learn a lot of self-discipline to stay on track and also self-fund my entire business using the money I had saved up.
RGK: Tell us a little more about your business and product line.
Divya: Spices and herbs are almost ubiquitous in any South Asian’s life. My mom was always ready with haldi (turmeric) whenever I scraped a knee playing outdoors. My dadu (grandfather) would be ready with kadha to combat the winter’s cold. Tulsi was not just a leaf we put in our chai but a deity we planted in the house. We truly do love to add masala (spices) to everything.
The ability to work up magic with these spices, however, remains a well-kept secret in South Asian households, passed down through family heirloom recipes. The magic in our Compassion Blend comes from my Nani (grandma) an endless source of recipes and life lessons. Ever since I was a teenager she has been passing down recipes. Naturally, then, spices have been the channel through which I have come to understand holistic wellness. Herbs and spices are a great way to detox the body, nurture healthy skin, relieve stress/anxiety, stimulate hair growth, maintain gut health and boost immunity. I wish to reveal and celebrate that knowledge by sharing it with you in an accessible manner that have been handcrafted based on our generational recipes.
RGK: If someone wanted to start with just one of your products/classes, which one would you recommend?
Divya: I highly recommend the Tranquility Blend. It is a mixture of Holy Basil, Mint & Ginger so it goes really well with a plethora of drinks or even just as your daily cup of tea without the caffeine. It is also packed with iron and works wonders for blood purification, stress relief, body detox, etc.
RGK:We know that you are partnering with a group in India to support women farmers. Can you tell us a little more about that?
Divya: As an all-women team at Holy Spice, we are proud to partner with Vrutti and support women farmers in villages near Bangalore, India on their journey to self-sufficiency.
Through significant monthly donations, we support Vrutti’s effort to equip women farmers with valuable supplies like heirloom vegetable varieties and vital skills in marketing and participatory guarantee systems.
RGK: What sets Holy Spice apart from other companies out there?
Divya: We firmly believe in walking our talk and are committed to providing all natural ethically sourced spices that have been lab tested and FDA approved.
Our team is WOC owned and operated, meaning everyone from our suppliers to our marketeers are women.
Now let’s get to some fun questions and get to know Divya better.
RGK: What do you like to do when you are not working?
Divya: I love doing things that help me relax, taking a walk, watching my favorite show, reading a book.
RGK: So what book are you reading currently?
Divya: I am reading the “The Secret Keeper of Jaipur” by Alka Joshi.
RGK: Do share one of your favorite quotes.
“It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light.” Aristotle
RGK: If you had to write an autobiography or memoir- what would it be titled?
Divya: I would call it The Sandboxed Life
RGK: Is there a limiting belief that you would love to drop about yourself?
Divya: Giving up too quickly.