🇱🇰

the world’s best cinnamon

paying homage to one of my past last names

That time I wanted to sell a spice the U.S. knew nothing about

I found out my last name was the same as a town in Sri Lanka where, per Wikipedia, the best cinnamon in the world grows.

This was a delightful piece of information attached to a name I already cared deeply about.

It turned out, the town was home to the top 2 exporters of Ceylon cinnamon for the entire world, and I spent a lot of time and energy learning about what it might take to sell a spice that looks and feels pretty, in a country that doesn’t particularly care for it.

Product/market fit? Don’t know her.

My [now former] partner and I had also begun a stage of our relationship where we’d never worked together, and we wanted something to build together in our [not exactly abundant] spare time.

Eventual frustration + heartache aside, it really was fun starting the whole endeavor. Buying 10+ different kinds of cinnamon and obsessing over the differences… price, quality, marketing.

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Going to the factory in Sri Lanka itself was the most fun and unique experience. Sri Lanka is a gorgeous country, rich with history and the greenest greens.

rolling hills with what will eventually be loads and loads of delicious tea
rolling hills with what will eventually be loads and loads of delicious tea

Designing the packaging gave me deep joy in pushing around pixels. There’s so much pride and heart that goes into it, especially when the product has a loved family name in it. I worked with a designer friend and his talent made the process so enjoyable, continually surprising me and leveling up my vague but hypey explanations. I had a luxe vision of hot pink + gold, attempting to justify an insane price point. It was beautiful.

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We sold quite a few in the beginning.

Honestly, the rush of each sale really can’t be beat.

We also learned the pain of Facebook ads and just, the pain of humans in general. Some will make you feel SO GOOD:

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There were a lot of cinnamon fans, really sweet + kind ones with plenty of kind things to say about the business and cinnamon. Of course, some were… not so nice:

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Oops.

We tried a lot of health angles in our content, too. Supposedly, Ceylon cinnamon really is better for you (compared to its popular alternative, Cassia) but only if you have more than like 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon a day. Considering it's not a major staple of the American diet, our articles didn’t really slap.

oops…
oops…
fascinating to see folks champion for the brand too… humans really are so interesting.
fascinating to see folks champion for the brand too… humans really are so interesting.

But mainly my friends and family hyped me a lot and that felt nice. Love a good supportive system.

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The collective hype eventually turned into a themed “pot-luck” I held annually, featuring cinnamon dishes. We had a “best dish” competition and it got fierce.

people get really creative when you give them one constraint…
people get really creative when you give them one constraint…
homemade cinnamon churros with cinnamon ice cream?? Yes please.
homemade cinnamon churros with cinnamon ice cream?? Yes please.
some cinnamon recipes are
some cinnamon recipes are not all that great
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friends taking a casual competition  speaks to my soul
friends taking a casual competition speaks to my soul

We even had a Cinnamon piñata one year, which basically won everything.

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Ultimately, the cinnamon business came and went, mainly because we didn’t stay obsessed. It fizzled, but it was a fun, delicious project while it lasted ❤️

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