For the final blog post of this series we will learn about a few Creatives of All Things Tasty who also happen to be vendors at an entrepreneurial co-op located at 21 Furnace Street in Akron. Explore the products of two clever cooks who have invented products that will please the taste buds. Meet Tanya of JuliaBelle’s Seasonings and Lauren of The Blonde Italian.
What is the origin story behind JuliaBelle’s Seasonings?
The inspiration for my company came from my Mom, JuliaBelle who died in 2015. While cleaning out my mother’s house, I discovered an old trunk filled with treasured recipes and cookbooks. Many of them were old family recipes created by my mother and grandmother. One night as I was looking through them, I had the idea of taking the recipes and packaging the ingredients; I thought what better way to honor my mother and continue her legacy. I started with three items, a chicken seasoning, a corn bread mix, and a walnut coffee cake that I remember her baking. I decided to offer them at a farmers market to see if they would sell and in late 2015 JuliaBelle’s Seasonings went from inspiration to reality.
What attracted you to the world of seasonings?
I have always been fascinated by the tastes and aromas of foods from different cultures. I enjoy eating out at international restaurants and watching cooking and travel shows highlighting different cuisines, especially shows featuring Asian, African, and Middle Eastern dishes. It was as if I could smell the various spices as the foods were being cooked. So now I feel like I am where I should be, creating my own unique versions of these flavors, and helping others discover them.
How do you get to be creative in your work?
I do a lot of markets and events in and around NE Ohio, so I get to talk to a lot of people and find out what sort of tastes and flavors they like and are interested in trying. It is taking these ideas and putting my own spin on it, turning it into something that they cannot get in any store or anywhere else.
What inspires you to create your products?
The spirit of JuliaBelle and watching Beat Bobby Flay – he is like the seasoning god! He really pushes me to be at the top of my creativity game – I think, “How would he create this recipe or make this spice?”
Which products are you most proud of?
I’m proud of the transformation from a seasoning company into a food company. In 2018, JuliaBelle introduced two rice mixes – Cranberry, Orange & Almond with Jasmine Rice and Cranberry, Herb & Garlic with Basmati Rice. They have been a huge addition to this line. We have since added two more – Sweet Moroccan with Basmati Rice and Long Grain Spanish Rice. These formulations took a while to create, but they have been totally worth the time and effort. You get the seasoning packet along with the rice, and they cook up in about 15 minutes – excellent for families looking for quick and easy options to make a meal.
In what ways were you creative as a child?
I grew up in a musical family, one where everyone either played an instrument, sang, or did both. So, I was always making up my own songs or rearranging someone else’s song. As a kid, I always thought that I would end up in some aspect of music as a profession. I am still to this day passionate about my love of all types of music. I truly admire anyone talented enough to earn a living this way.
What is in development right now?
Next year, JuliaBelle will be introducing a new product – Spicy Harissa, a ready to use paste that not only can be used to season soups and stews, but as a condiment for burgers, sandwiches, and dips.
How do you plan on expanding your business?
Expansion into cooked foods, wholesale bulk items to food trucks, caterers, chefs, restaurants, and possibly a cooking channel. For as long as people love to eat, there will continue to be a market for this wide range of excellent products.
What have you always wanted to do creatively, but just have not found the time yet?
Record a CD of my personal rearrangements.
Continue on to Page 2 for The Blonde Italian.