Bringing Jamaican spices to the world — Fulla FlavaSunday, July 25, 2021
BY ANDREW LAIDLEY
Fulla Flava Spice Bar LLC is a registered company in Maplewood, Minnesota in the United States. The company, owned and operated by Mikailia Dayes, started out of her desire to explore ingredients in the kitchen.
“Growing up with my mom, I was never fond of the kitchen but when I did try, I would always play around with her spices which were never labelled and were never in the right bottle. My love started because I had to dissect what these spices were,” said Dayes. It was the mystery behind the spices that piqued her interest. Fast forward a few years later and the entrpreneur has turned that mystery into a full scale business.
“When I became an adult, I started cooking more for myself, I gravitated toward extreme flavours, I wanted to infuse that with something different, it was always something with a twist,” she continued.
Although Dayes migrated to the US, she travelled with her passion and started to import Jamaican spices, “I am buying from the markets in Jamaica and the seasons shops and I'm working on forging partnerships with farmers on the ground as the business grows.”
She said monetising the business was less easy, pointing out that the process took some trial and error. “A lot of people would come to my house and ask where did you get this? Can I get some? And I found that I was giving away these spices so I started cooking and selling food,” she said. But she soon realised that cooking was not yeilding sufficient income.
“I realised I had an issue because my supporters who weren't in my immediate space couldn't get to try my food so I decided to provide them with the stuff I use to cook and teach them how to use them, and that's really what birthed this company,” the entrepreneur added.
As it is now, Dayes rents a commercial kitchen space where she mixes her unique blends and bottle them in sterilised containers. She explained that's where the bulk of her production takes. For now, she says everything is done by her except for her labels which is outsourced. Dayes highlighted that the shipping aspect of her business is done from her house.
But it hasn't been a bed of roses, in recent times, she complains that logistical delays have disrupted her work flow. “I had some major delays and maybe it's because of COVID-19 too, but I had some major delays with Jamaica Customs. So, basically when I ship a product I have to make sure that I don't need that product right now. Jamaica takes three weeks to ship it and then America holds on to it for another four to five days. So I have to ensure that I'm ordering in advance,” she said.
But that's not enough to stop the entrepreneur from dreaming big. “My plan is to have a Fulla Flava Spice Bar store in Jamaica, in multiple states across the US and eventually a couple in Canada as well as in the United Kingdom. My aim is to travel the world for spices and bring authentic blends to consumers. I've thought about exploring the option of having a few products in local supermarkets around the US but my ultimate goal is to have my own store where you're able to come in and have access to all our products,” said Dayes.
In the meantime, the entrepreneur is keen on not forgetting her roots. “One of the things behind the brand and behind the name is the Jamaican patois. It is also paying homage to my mom whose name is Palmeta Fuller. I wanted to point out that this whole adventure with me and cooking started with my mom who I saw prepare meals everyday,” she noted.
As the business grows and expand, the entrepreneur says her focus is elevating something regular and bringing it with a twist.
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