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Meet Claire Cheney of Curio Spice Co. in Cambridge

Today we’d like to introduce you to Claire Cheney.

Claire, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I launched my business after returning from a 4 month stint abroad in South East Asia. I lived in Thailand with my brother’s family and traveled to spice farms to learn about spices, spice farming and cooking. I was also developing the mission for my business around sustainability and gender equality.

I launched the business in 2015 with just a handful of accounts at specialty food stores and gourmet shops. Since I’d been working in the specialty food business for more than a decade in the Boston area, I had a great network of people who supported and believed in Curio. I also began doing fairs and markets to prove my brand concept.

In the fall of 2016 I opened my first brick and mortar shop and production kitchen. Previously I had been sharing a kitchen with an artisan chocolate business, but I outgrew it. Not only did I love the idea of more space for production but also I loved the idea of interacting with customers directly through a retail shop.

The shop is a reflection of my love for natural history museums and the concept of a ‘cabinet of wonders’ also sometimes called a ‘curiosity cabinet’ (hence the name “Curio Spice”). I was also inspired by old apothecaries, since in fact spices and medicine share a long history. The space is meant to engage the senses and inspire everyone to cook with more creativity and passion.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Starting a business is never a smooth road! There have been many challenges, the main one being how to balance work and life. Actually having my own production space was a huge help – before I opened the shop I was working very late at night due to the constraints of my shared kitchen space. I never saw my husband! I’m now just trying to find time to do all the accounting necessary to stay organized, but I think that’s fairly common for small business owners!

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Curio Spice Co. – what should we know?
Curio Spice Co. specializes in directly sourced, sustainably produced spices from around the world. We offer unique blends that help tell the stories behind the spices. We also specialize in rare and hard-to-find spices, tools and culinary gifts. Curio is a woman-owned benefit corporation, working to improve the lives of farmers and add value to our local community through educational events and classes.

In addition to sourcing from farmers around the world we also make a point of sourcing from local New England farms and one of our most unique blends is called “Supeq Spice” which is made with 100% New England sourced ingredients. Supeq means “ocean” in Pasamaquoddy and features dulse seaweed, shiitake mushroom and ginger.

I’m definitely proud of what we’ve done to share knowledge around issues of climate change and food security. For example this spring we partnered with the United Nations Development Program with the launch of their new cookbook “Adaptive Farms Resilient Tables” to share how food and agriculture are an important aspect of building resiliency around the impacts of climate change.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
I believe creativity is one of the most important characteristics to building a successful business. I actually studied creative writing as an undergrad and it’s helped me in more ways than I could have imagined.

Pricing:

  • Our signature spice blends are priced around $8.50 per tin
  • Our pure spices range in price from $2.50 to $11.00 per package (depending on weight)
  • We sell gift packs from $25 to $100 in value for everything from hostess gifts to wedding gifts.

Contact Info:


Image Credit:
Claire Cheney
Chattman Photography
Ashley O’dell Photography

Getting in touch: BostonVoyager is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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