Meaghan Thomas and her husband have always loved to cook. While they always paid close attention to the quality of the produce and protein they used, they realized they weren’t holding the spices they bought to the same standards. They wanted fresh, organic spices that were ethically sourced and free of of pesticides and food dyes – and as you’d expect home chefs to do, they cooked up a solution themselves. Pinch Spice Market is their organic line of spice blends – from North African Ras El Hanout to Indian Tandoori, and everything in between – crafted with high-quality ingredients sourced from farmers who are paid fair wages. Today, the family-owned Louisville, Kentucky, company is focused on expansion and growth, while still remaining true to their founding ethos.
Here’s our lightly edited Q&A, from The Story Exchange 1,000+ Stories Project.
Tell us about your biggest success so far.
Experiencing growth month over month, year over year, even through a pandemic. Also, when someone shops with us – they come back. Our repeat customers mean so much to us. Their trust in our products is the biggest compliment we receive.
What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?
It’s still just my husband and I running everything. We are a couple in spice and in life. We just moved into a new, larger spice factory, and will be hiring soon so we can move away from the day-to-day operations and focus more on scaling our business without compromising our values.
Have you experienced any significant personal situations that have affected your business decisions?
I spent many years successfully growing other businesses whose focuses were solely on increasing the bottom line or selling the business. I saw what greed can do to people and businesses. While we’re always making financially responsible decisions, revenue is not our most important metric. Delivering superior spices and supporting spice farmers are the most important things to us.
What is your biggest tip for other startup entrepreneurs?
If you decide to get an investor, make sure you know who they are and what they expect their role to be. Nothing is free. We have stayed investor-free and self-funded for a reason. We don’t want to be pressured or forced to cut corners to squeeze out more profit margins – which is something many investors are interested in.
How do you find inspiration on your darkest days?
I read customer reviews or look at our hashtags on social media to see what people are cooking with our spices. Our customers’ support and loyalty really keeps us going.
What is your go-to song to get motivated on tough days?
“This Must be The Place” by The Talking Heads. It was a favorite song of a dear old friend who is no longer with us, and it fills my soul with hope and love thinking of them. ◼