We like to call FAIRLING an online dating site for brands: the goal is to get a perfect and long-lasting match between brands and stores. And we can tell you this much: there is already quite an amount of great FAIRLING-Love Stories to tell. One of them is the story of Soul Spice.
At SoulSpice, you quickly notice how much expertise, experience and passion is in the brand and in the products. The founders personally know every ingredient and every personality responsible for it. In addition to great and delicious spices, they support local projects in the countries of origin on the one hand, and on the other hand, they promote social engagement through the inclusion of people with mental health problems.
SoulSpice joined the FAIRLING community in July 2020. With Boris’ and Meret’s passion, experience, and sustainable attitude, they have created high-quality spices that convince not only of their taste but also of their great and attractive designs. The authenticity, passion, and unique taste have convinced many great stores. A true love story began.
How did it all start? What’s the idea behind SoulSpice?
We have founded SoulSpice in 2016 after working for several years in large companies. We wanted to take responsibility ourselves: that’s why we’ve founded a company built on principles we believe in. We are convinced that you have to think and work differently than many corporations do. One-sided pursuit of maximum profit without consideration of losses, ecological as well as social, leads mankind to today’s immense challenges such as climate change, social injustice, extinction of species, scarcity of resources, etc.
We want to prove that there is another way. Our company wants to share profits with all partners in the value chain, protect the environment and conserve resources. We think long-term and therefore do not take shortcuts to success. We do not compromise on quality, on production conditions for farmers and on environmental protection.
Who are the people behind the brand? Tell us something about yourselves.
SoulSpice includes the two founders, Boris Rafalski and Meret Brotbek.
As a passionate farmer and studied agricultural engineering, Boris built up the sustainability sector after his first professional experiences for Unilever, where he was responsible for the fair and global purchasing of vegetables and herbs. The experience he gained there of how sustainable and holistic management can improve the lives of small farmers and people in need was the initial spark for SoulSpice – and since then has been his daily drive to really pepper in a fair world.
After Meret’s first professional experience in crisis management at the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in 2015 she established a purchasing program in the sustainability sector at Unilever that provides long-term sustainable support and care to smallholder farmers. There she met Boris and the decision to start a company that produces and trades organic spices in a fair and sustainable way: SoulSpice was born.
However, SoulSpice is not a self-runner. For a social enterprise like SoulSpice to function and successfully fulfill its vision, it also needs visionaries. Visionaries who not only stand behind the brand but also carry it – and in our case, taste it perfectly. That’s why we are very proud to have such a great team on our side.
What was your favourite highlight or happy moment in the last months?
We have had many moments of happiness because we have great fun doing what we do. And because we form relationships with our cooperators – whether spice farmers, employees or customers – as partners at eye level and get so much positivity back.
The biggest highlights have been:
That our spice farmers have come through the pandemic well. The demand for good organic spices has increased a lot in the last few months because people are more aware of good ingredients and because people are simply cooking more at home. So our growers have had a significant increase in demand.
We were also able to expand our manufactory. We are an inclusive company and now offer 12 people with mental health problems a job. For me, it is a moment of happiness every day when I come to the manufactory and see how enthusiastically and passionately everyone is working to produce particularly good spices.
And a highlight was also the Christmas business, which went very well despite the pandemic. Many of our resellers were open and our spices sold very well.
In marketing and sales, you rely on strong, long-term relationships with your retailers. Why do they choose you? And why do you choose them?
From the beginning, we have focused on partnerships with retailers – our spices are not available in supermarkets or wholesalers. This is the only way we can offer our resellers an exclusive fine food product. Our spices sell best in small stores where customers are well advised and the products are explained. We support this with customer testers, recipe postcards and lots of advice to our resellers.
That’s why it was very important to us to reach exactly these great, unique owner-operated stores at FAIRLING – that’s where we want to be.
You have received almost 20 requests from new retailers at FAIRLING so far. Can you give us a little background information on one of these love stories?
We have gained some new resellers through FAIRLING. The response to the advertisements, in particular, was very good and numerous. When a reseller has shown interest, we were often able to quickly establish a business relationship through personal contact.
This is actually a big advantage of the platform: since you can easily see who is interested in your products and how the contact interacts with the ads, you can also react to them quickly.
Where should the journey go? What is the vision of SoulSpice?
We want to remain an exclusive fine food brand in the long term, which is why our spices will not be found on supermarket shelves in the future. We are not interested in producing as much quantity as possible, but rather a high-quality manufactured product.
In addition to the particularly high-quality organic spices that we use, the culinary composition of the spice blends is an important feature. Therefore, we will continue to expand the cooperation with chefs who make our spice blends.
But the most important thing for us is that we can help the people who grow our spices (i.e. the small farmers in the countries of origin) to better living conditions and to stand by them as a long-term partner.
Is there anything you would definitely advise other young, emerging brands to do?
We think sustainability should stand as a core value of any business startup. Only an ecologically and socially sustainable business model will be successful in the future.
Sustainability should therefore not only be interpreted ecologically – there is much more at stake here. The companies that are being established now should all be set up sustainably. This means paying attention to both environmentally friendly materials and production, as well as respectful and humane treatment of its partners, teammates and employees.
Thank you, Boris & Meret, for the great interview, and all the best for you and your brand! Hopefully, there will be many more Love Stories for you to experience!
& Meret Brotbek
|FAIRLING member since:||Jul 03, 2020|
|First international request:||Jul 07, 2020|
|Locations of interested stores through FAIRLING:||16 cities
|Success of the first advertisement
Do you want to be part of FAIRLING, too?
Great, there’s a whole world of local stores waiting for your products! Just book a free demo call with one of our brandscouts – they will be very happy to talk about your possibilities on FAIRLING and answer all your questions.
Did you like the love story of SoulSpice?
There have been other great love stories developing on FAIRLING – just browse our blog for them!
You are a unique brand and want to learn more about wholesale and reach out to potential shops?
FAIRLING is an online trade fair platform and very easy to use.