How a couple’s dinner parties turned into a full-time job, from the April Edition of Supper Magazine, by Rob Marcantonio
Tucked away in Greenpoint like a few of our favorite things here at Supper, there’s a warehouse (two warehouses, in fact) owned by an engaged couple. Their names are Evan and Kimmee and they’re the proprietors of Brooklyn Spice Co. and Greenpoint Trading Co.—two companies pumping out tons (literally tons) of high quality spice blends each and every day.
HOW DID THEY GET HERE
A failed tee-shirt company, a short bout of unemployment, and a love for cooking led these two to start a business together. “Evan was working in spices, and we were running a tee-shirt company at night. That was a total flop. But we knew we wanted to work together, to do something creative as a couple,” Kimmee explained.
Kimmee had just left her job in production. “We were cooking all the time and constantly having friends over for dinner. We were always using spice blends of other companies but not liking them because they were really high in salt, or they weren’t flavorful enough, or they had too much going on.”
So they started making blends together and giving them to friends. Their frequent dinner parties became their training and grounds and trade routes. This hobby grew and grew until it made sense to make something of it. “Since Evan was already in the spice industry it just made sense that we would start our own business,” Kimmee said. “We started buying bulk spices, we lined them up in our hallway, and we got a food-handlers permit. From there it just sort-of evolved.”
Evan and Kimmee began selling their craft blends as Greenpoint Trading at Smorgasburg and other like-minded flea food markets in Brooklyn. “Those are a great way to meet people and make friends,” Evan said. The recent craft culinary explosion has sparked a vibrant community of DIY food suppliers and mom-and-pop purveyors. For anyone that was making their own pickles, mustards or cured meat, Evan and Kimmee were the neighborhood supplier.
Their first big seller was turkey brine for Thanksgiving a couple years ago. “Once that sold really well, we said ‘okay, let’s make this permanent,’” Kimmee explained. “We moved into a legitimate space and just started going full force.” They started expanding rapidly and organically with a lot of help from friends.
Evan and Kimmee’s dinner parties were still an integral part of their business. They recruited free focus groups. “Friends would go home and I would just give them a little baggie of seasoning with a number on it. I would say, ‘try this on everything and let me know what you think.’ Then people would report back to me,” Kimmee said. That’s how they expanded their spice line.
Now they sell nearly a dozen different quality blends in addition to supplying wholesale buyers as Brooklyn Spice Company. Brooklyn Spice business has been taking up most of their time, and also led them toward expansion.
They grew out of their original space in just over a year and have recently moved to a warehouse a couple blocks down the street. It’s nearly four times the size. “We needed a warehouse that can do Brooklyn Spice Company and Greenpoint Trading Co,” Evan said. They’re really excited and they’re operating at a pace that is going full steam ahead. “It’s a totally new company. We’re just growing so rapidly,” said Kimmee.
Armed with one forklift and a cargo van, the heroic Evan and Kimmee are doing all of this on their own. They receive all shipments and hand-deliver their outgoing orders. And they wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Why work for someone else?” Evan laughed. When he left his old company, people just came with him. “I didn’t have to ask. They just knew that the service and the quality wouldn’t be there without me.” Evan and Kimmee have their hands in every part of their business, which helps them maintain the quality on which the pride themselves.
“Now we have all these friends doing small companies, mostly on the side of their full-time jobs, and we’re their supplier.” Evan explained. “We supply to our friends at Tin Mustard, local picklers and DIYers but we’re also supplying to companies like Bill and Evans and a bunch of meat curing companies.” No matter how large Brooklyn Spice grows, they want to keep whom they sell to always at the mom-and-pop level.
NOW AND MOVING FORWARD
Greenpoint Trading Co.’s spice blends are currently in a dozen stores in Long Island, about six stores in Brooklyn and two or three stores in Manhattan. You’ll be able to catch them at Brooklyn EATS, Brooklyn’s first fancy food-style trade show June 26th in south Williamsburg. They’ll be selling gift sets and starter kits in addition to their regular assortment.
Order online anytime on their website.
Be on the lookout for an update from Supper about the furniture showroom Evan’s dad will be opening in their old warehouse space!