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Exploring Life & Business with Tanya Green of Julia Belle’s Seasonings, Rubs & Mixes

Today we’d like to introduce you to Tanya Green.  

Hi Tanya, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
When I started Julia Belle’s Seasonings in 2015, I didn’t follow the traditional path of starting a business. I actually had 3 products and a small customer base before I had a business plan, a logo, or product packaging. The inspiration for Julia Belle’s Seasonings came from the recipes that I discovered after my mother Julia Belle Burton passed away. I kept a box of her family recipes in a storage unit, eventually moving them to the trunk of my car as I tried to figure out what to do with them. One night at about 3 a.m., I came up with the idea to sell my mom’s cornbread recipe as a pre-packaged mix. My sister thought I was crazy. 

Not deterred, I put together the cornbread mix, a coffee cake mix, and a chicken seasoning from my mom’s recipes to sell at a local farmer’s market in downtown Akron. The mixes were a huge hit and sold out right away. It was then I realized that local farmer’s markets could help me grow my business, so I became a regular fixture at other markets around the Akron area. Farmer’s markets became a great way to establish a rapport with my customers – to get their feedback and ideas for new products, 

In my full-time day job, I work in manufacturing as a new product researcher, so I put my research skills to work and investigated the regulations and requirements for selling home-produced food items. I purchase the ingredients in bulk and then assemble according to the various recipes. I often enlist my five sisters, two brothers, nieces, and nephews to help with putting the products together, packaging and labeling. 

I have been able to scale up my company through collaborations with other businesses. My products are now available at a number of retail outlets throughout the area. The product offerings have expanded from 3 to 25 unique items, including four rice mixes introduced in 2019, and this year we will be introducing our new butter spreads. 

What started out as a seasoning business is now a food company, 

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle-free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
Building something from scratch is never a smooth road, and anyone who says it is is not being honest or telling the whole story. Lack of time is one of the biggest struggles I face because I still have a full-time job; so, it’s a constant balancing act to find a way to get things done. It is extremely important to prioritize and keep those issues at the top of the list, so you don’t get lost and waste time trying to figure it out. Keeping a current “to-do” list in order of importance is a must-have, otherwise, you end up questioning what you got accomplished that day. 

Appreciate you sharing that. What should we know about Julia Belle’s Seasonings, Rubs & Mixes?
By offering consumers quick and easy ways to cook the same old tired meals, Julia Belle’s takes bland and boring food and makes it delicious. Our signature line of seasonings and rubs can be used to create your own unique tastes and flavors. The baking and side-dish mixes can all be prepared by adding 2 or 3 simple ingredients. There are no GMOs, MSG, artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives, and we offer a wide variety of salt and sugar-free options. 

The inspiration for this business came from my mom, Julia Belle who died in 2015. While cleaning out her house, I discovered an old trunk filled with her treasured recipes and cookbooks. What better way to honor my mom and her love of cooking? What started with 3 items has since grown into over 25 unique and innovative products to make cooking fun, easy, and delicious. The flexibility is such that they can be used to make anything you want to cook – from simple to complex, any cuisine from American to international. The smells, the tastes, the flavors of some of the world’s finest cuisines; the ease you want, with the flavor you desire. 

Our expertly crafted recipes are hand-blend in small batches to ensure that you are getting the utmost in freshness, and taste. From seasonings to mixes, you are given an authentically gratifying cooking experience; it is truly deliciousness made easy. 

So, what does the future look like for Julia Belle’s? Expansion into cooked foods, ready-made pastes, sauces, spreads, wholesale bulk items to food trucks/caterers/chefs/restaurants, possibly a cooking channel. 

The crisis has affected us all in different ways. How has it affected you and any important lessons or epiphanies you can share with us?
Like many business owners, COVID-19 challenges include shipping delays of items that used to be a 1-day ship point are now taking 5-7 days to deliver. Another challenge is supply chain issues, including the availability of certain ingredients that have forced us to revise some recipes. Production of many of our high-demand items was delayed which caused backorders in our delivery system. 

The biggest lesson learned from COVID-19 is that you have to be flexible and prepared for changes because you never know when something is going to impact your business in a negative way. As an owner, you have to find ways to maneuver around obstacles so that you can still give your customers what they want when they want it. 

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Image Credits
LaShila Howell
Fly High Productions

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