Meet the Entrepreneur Helping Cooks Create a Thoughtfully Curated Spice Collection

published Mar 30, 2022
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Sana Javeri Kadri of Diaspora Co.
Credit: Diaspora Co.

It’s not difficult to buy spices. Head to any grocery store, and you’ll encounter a decent selection of seasonings. But good spices? Spices with history? Spices rich in culture? Spices that support small-scale farmers? Spices produced by a company that supports and lifts up the BIPOC community? Spices that are so good, they sell out within minutes? Now that is a little trickier to find. Luckily, Diaspora Co. exists.

Diaspora Co. is a spice company unlike any other. Founded in 2017 by Sana Javeri Kadri (@sanajaverikadri) with just one spice — Pragati Turmeric — it has grown to a global brand, beloved by home cooks and chefs alike. The difference between grocery store seasonings and Diaspora Co.’s collection is beyond words. Cook with it, and you’ll immediately make the switch. But let’s back up for a moment. To understand what makes Diaspora Co. so darn good, you have to understand what drives Javeri Kadri, its founder. 

Javeri Kadri was born and raised in Mumbai, where the centuries-old pains of British colonialism are still very visible. She observed spice growers and farmers receiving unfair wages for their work. She witnessed a ludicrously complicated supply chain. And as a young adult in America, she tasted stale and dull spices that had lost all but a whisper of their origin. So at 23, Kadri began her company with the intent of bringing vibrant Southeast Asian spices to the world. 

Diaspora Co. has grown steadily over the last five years — there are now around 30 spices in its roster, including cardamom, sumac, and a riot of chillies — although its original core values remain as clear-eyed as ever. Javeri Kadri works directly with farmers across India and Sri Lanka to ensure that the relationships are sustainable, and of course, that the products are absolutely delicious. In fact, Javeri Kadri’s standards are so high, Diaspora Co.’s new product drops are special and rare. “We have one rule,” she explains. “Unless we know that our spice, from our farm partner, is the best on the market we don’t launch it.”

Case in point: Haldi Doodh, Diaspora Co.’s latest product to hit the (virtual) shelves. You may be familiar with turmeric lattes, but even if your local café’s loyalty card is stained yellow, you’re likely to be surprised, blown away, and totally hooked on Haldi Doodh. It’s a perfect blend of high-curcumin Lakadong turmeric, Aranya black pepper, Makhir ginger, Baraka cardamom, and Peni Miris cinnamon that can be made into a DIY drink. The masterfully blended mix is the product of 40 small farmers and countless hours of testing. You can pre-order it here (it launches this May)!

Spices without a story are a pale shadow of their potential, and Javeri Kadri believes that the same principle applies to companies. As a queer woman who is also an immigrant and a minority, she knows how important it is to center and support people within her community. Much of her staff is queer and BIPOC, and she regularly encourages her friends and social followers to push past feelings of insecurity and self-doubt. “Founders that look like me are so used to being rejected or undervalued that they sell themselves short constantly,” she says. “Know your power. Know the power of your culture, your story, and the value of what you have to add.” It’s business advice, but life advice, too — and that’s not surprising, because Diaspora Co. is inextricably linked to Javeri Kadri’s personal story and ancestral history.

The spices themselves are, of course, special. But I’m just as excited about connecting with Diaspora Co. online. Their Instagram account (@diasporaco) is full of eye-catching photos, cooking inspiration, and people-forward posts and captions that inspire all of the feels. The newsletter is also a delight — to be honest, it’s one of the few I always open. You can sign up for that here. Are you already a Diaspora Co. fan? And if not, which spice are you going to try first?

Interested in finding out about more women-owned businesses? Check out our Instagram Highlights to find your new soon-to-be favorite brand. And don’t forget to follow Diaspora Co.  on social, too!