Gouri Kubairm MD of Spice Drops is third generation of the family that pioneered the essential oils industry in India. Her grandfather, Mr DV Deo was the first person to cultivate vetivert (a long tall grass) on a commercial basis to extract the oils. From these beginnings has grown a successful family business called Holy Lama Naturals which makes a natural body care range based on the ancient principles of Ayurveda and also a unique range of highly concentrated extracts of herbs, spices fruits and flowers, used in cooking called Spice Drops.
What is your company background, how did you start the business?
“Gouri grew up in Kerala with her younger sister (Vaishali Deo) and parents (Vijay and Vijaya Deo) who continued to develop and grow the business extending the range of essential oils they worked with and their uses. She watched as together they worked up the beauty range and began to experiment with oils for cooking. With success, more help was needed and it was Vijaya, Gouri’s mother who set up the manufacturing unit as a government-recognized women’s enterprise, supporting and empowering marginalized women in the local community, something the business still proudly does today.”
“Although naturally interested in the family firm, Gouri chose to spread her wings and trained to become a chartered accountant in India where she worked for Deloitte before moving with the company to the UK. For over a decade she worked as an auditor and during this time met her husband, Anirudha, and had her two children, Neha and Ashwin.”
“Perhaps it was having children of her own but the lure of working for the family business became too much and in 2013 Gouri left her comfortable job with Deloitte to further her family’s ethical business bringing the natural skincare range and Spice Drops to the European market.”
“During the last four years, Gouri has worked hard to develop the reputation of the Spice Drops name. As a result, over half the 31-strong range has been awarded either one or two stars at the Great Taste Awards and eminent chefs such as Nigella Lawson, Rachel Khoo, Tom Kerridge and Cyrus Todiwala have recommended using them. In 2016 Gouri gave Spice Drops a whole new brand image which is both contemporary and fun while maintaining its Indian roots and the quality of the product.”
What is the current product range and variants and how do these products stand out in the market?
“There are 31 Spice Drops on the market. All are made from natural ingredients using a process that has been perfected over 20 years to ensure the goodness of the raw ingredients is retained. They contain no artificial flavourings, colourings or preservatives and also no added salt or sugar. Spice Drops are gluten free and suitable for vegan and vegetarian diets.”
“Spice Drops are not only ethically sourced but also ethically made. They are made in a factory in Kerala, India which is largely ‘manned’ by disadvantaged women who would otherwise be rejected by society but who through their work are given self-respect and dignity.”
“We believe that Spice Drops are unique on the market being in a liquid format and with a shelf life of three years. They remove the hassle of peeling, chopping, grinding or grating the fresh ingredient but provide the flavour and aroma of the real thing. Each bottle comes with its own dropper to ensure accurate and easy dispense of the correct amount of the relevant Spice Drop – usually just one or two drops are needed to enhance a recipe and they can be used in savoury dishes, baking, confectionery or drinks, including tea, coffee, smoothies or cocktails. They are incredibly versatile!”
Has there been any recent company news?
“We launched Lime Zest Spice Drops in May bringing the total number of Spice Drops available to 31. Made with fresh limes from India, just four drops of the Lime Zest Spice Drops equates to the zest of one whole lime. Lime Zest Spice Drops are more versatile than lime oil because they blend easily with any liquid which means they can add the ‘just squeezed’ taste of fresh lime intensifying the sharp citrus flavour in any dish without increasing the volume of liquid.”
“There is a recipe on each pack of Spice Drops with clear instructions on how to use them. For Lime Zest Spice Drops there is a simple but mouth-watering idea for a delicious Lime and ginger mayonnaise for a sensational chicken sandwich. It is also fantastic with a gin and tonic or try it combined with mint to make a mouthwatering mojito cupcake. The options are endless!”
“Very exciting for us but also this year a selection of eight Spice Drops were listed by Sainsbury’s, one of the UK’s biggest retailers, marking the brand’s first move into the core grocery multiples sector, building on success in Ocado and Wholefoods.”
“Spice Drops has also recently been listed by Keylink, the UK’s leading supplier of chocolate and chocolate products, ingredients, packaging, equipment and accessories for chocolate work.”
What are the plans for the business moving forward, is there any expansion on the horizon?
“The long-term plan is to grow the company and have an international presence making Spice Drops a household name in kitchens around the world!”
Where are your products currently available to buy, and are you looking at or wanting to expand your availability?
“The full Spice Drops range is available online from www.holylamaspicedrops.com . Selected varieties can be bought online from Amazon, Ocado and www.notonthehighstreet.com but also in store in selected Whole Food Markets and Sainsbury’s. The bottles available in retail are 5ml however, catering size packs are available (100ml and bigger) and Spice Drops are increasingly being used in restaurants and bars both in food and in cocktails. More and more mixologists are recognising the convenience and ease with which Spice Drops can transform a cocktail aiding speed of service and the theatre of cocktail making. These areas that Spice Drops would like to develop as well as raise its profile in the baking sector.”