It is this desire to showcase Africa’s rich heritage of authentic, locally sourced culinary flavors that gave birth to Essie Spice – a global brand producing world-class sauces and spice blends under the keen eyes of 30-year-old Essie Bartels.
Essie’s spices are made of the finest ingredients, most of which are directly sourced from small-scale producers in Ghana, although she has now extended her scope to other parts of the world including Mexico.
Her dry spices, which form a big part of Essie Spice sauces, are sourced from Northern Ghana, where she has entered into a partnership with a small-scale businesswoman named Hajia Limata – a seasoned expert in traditional herbs and spices.
Our dried ginger, our grains of selim, alligator pepper, and our West African nutmeg are all sourced directly from her kitchen,” Essie says.
Supporting Local Businesses
Through her partnership with Essie Spice, Limata has been able to send her kids to school and support her family, including her granddaughter.
Essie has also partnered with local distributors who specialize in exotic ingredients, helping local entrepreneurs and farmers earn a living.
“We use fresh ingredients and premium oils like coconut and avocado that are healthy, but also great tasting, complementing the rich spices and flavors of West Africa,” Essie says.
By sourcing her ingredients from Ghana, her home country, Essie, who now lives in the U.S., ensures that local farmers are able to continue producing traditional spices, thus carrying on their centuries-old tradition.
To ensure her spices retain their original flavor and quality, Essie packs them in glass jars, which are safe from contamination and BPA. The jars are made from recycled glass and cardboard, and are 100 per cent recyclable.
“We produce the sauces in small batches at a local kitchen incubator to ensure quality and to maintain the personal, hand-made touch that our customers have grown to love and expect,” Essie informed Face2Face Africa.
She adds that the kitchen incubator is certified under all New York City health codes and all her spices and sauces are lab-tested and FDA-approved.
“Essie has always demonstrated great dedication and a positive, mature attitude in her business endeavors. She is industrious and well-focused, and works with a professional mindset,” Chef Michael Zebrowski, head pastry chef at New York City’s Institute of Culinary Education, writes.
Call for Help
Since its inception in 2013, Essie Spice has grown exponentially, doubling the sales of its essential sauce collection within the first two years of operation.
They have also expanded their sales platform beyond online orders to include six brick-and-mortar stores, farmers’ markets, in-store demos and pop-up shops.
The brand’s popularity in the United States has translated into a steady growth in demand for Essie’s spices.
“We have recently received inquiries and finally landed shelf space from national retailers Whole Foods Market and ShopRite Supermarkets,” she says.
With over 430 Whole Foods stores and more than 250 ShopRite stores to supply spices to, Essie is in need of funds to increase her production and satisfy the rising demand.
With your support, we can grow our business to match this demand and begin distributing our sauces to even wider audiences on a regional and national scale,” she appeals.
Her company has therefore embarked on an online fundraising campaign and are calling on all well-wishers to support their efforts to ramp up their business by purchasing their online fundraiser perks on Indiegogo.com.
According to Essie, funds collected will go to towards supporting different aspects of the business, including marketing, staffing, warehousing and distribution, purchasing of production equipment, and shipping.
Since its first year in business, Essie Spice has been contributing 10 percent of its proceeds to nonprofit charities around the world.
“Charities we have supported thus far include Medecins Sans Frontiers (Doctors Without Borders), The Abide Family in Uganda, Tatas and Friends in Ghana, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, and the Kili Summit for Clean Water under the African Development Initiative,” Essie reveals.
The young spice mixologist is counting on your support to keep her brand’s tradition of giving back to the community going and to move her business to the next level.