Just Spices: From £10k start-up to global flavour sensation
We talked to Verena Zander, CEO of Just Spices, about customer-centricity, plans to revolutionise the spice market, their aim for global expansion and much more.
Founded with just £10k in 2014, the Just Spices team have built a multi-million-pound business. How did you start a business with little capital and what are your secrets to scale?
It’s true that the founders of Just Spices started with very little money but they had identified a real customer need in the market, which of course has been integral to our success. But, more than that, we created a brand that customers love, by listening very closely to their needs. Today we inspire more than 1.8 million people in six different countries on our social media channels and many more in the stores of our retail partners with innovations and new recipes to try something new in the kitchen. I would say that in many ways scaling has been steady, consistent and organic with the right investments to grow.
In its heyday, the spice industry was one of the biggest in the world. What opportunities do you see for the sector today?
Spices remain a key part of any home cook’s cupboard and the spice blends category especially is growing. Added to that, home cooks want maximum flavour by using natural ingredients, without spending too much time on it.- Just Spices is the perfect solution to these challenges because we enable our customers to make great, flavoursome dishes just with a pinch of our mixes.
Just Spices worked with mental health charity, Mind Out. Can you tell us a bit about this partnership?
With our Pride Edition, we want to contribute to more tolerance, acceptance and equality in our society and use our strong community to support a good cause. That’s why we have chosen MindOut as a donation partner. As a mental health service for LGBTQ+ communities, they stand for a diverse society and invest to improve the mental health and well-being of LGBTQ+ communities.
You started three months ago as CEO of Just Spices. What has been your biggest learning?
So many learnings it’s hard to narrow it down to one! I took my biggest learning from the thoughts and visions of the entire Just Spices team. I spent the first months getting to know each team personally and asking them about their wishes, goals and workflows. In the end, we all had one clear mindset: the customer always comes first in everything we do. This helped me to develop my strategy and to decide in which direction to go.
Just Spices expanded into the US last year. What are your current growth plans?
Launching in the US was a huge milestone for all of us. In doing so, we were able to use the lessons learned from our previous international expansions, as well as the size and scale of our stakeholder Kraft Heinz. We are receiving good feedback from our first customers and are confident that Just Spices can revolutionise everyday cooking also in the USA. After launching our online shop we are focusing on building our brand and at the same time entering retail with our spice blends. The journey has just begun.
What innovations are you planning and what can we look forward to in 2024?
Our vision is to make every dish tasty. Since our UK launch last year, we have built a social media community with over 180,000 followers on Instagram and TikTok, have launched over 60 different spice blends, and are also now on shelves in Waitrose stores around the country. The feedback from our community has been amazing! The cuisine in the UK is so diverse and exciting and we love how creative people here use our products.
Our aim is to revolutionise the spice market in the UK even further by launching new innovative products that fit this diverse cuisine and inspire even more consumers. We focus on strengthening our DTC business as well as on building the presence of Just Spices in stores together with our retail partners.