Every year on Small Business Saturday, Sana sends out a community gift guide. This was sent to our weekly newsletter subscribers on November 25th 2023.
Good morning y'all!
This marks six years of writing my annual Small Business Saturday newsletter :') It's been a tough couple of years for so many small businesses (ourselves included!) and I feel so lucky for this incredible community and how much it grows every year! I've tried to pack a LOT into this email - some new gifting recs (always from small, values aligned businesses like us!), re-surfacing a few OG faves for those of you who are new to my annual guide, and in true SJK style, a vulnerable note about what's on my mind these days :)
I hope you've got a hot beverage in hand (our new hot cocoa mix is a very good idea!), and have a fun cooking project lined up for the weekend ahead! I'm biased but Asha's been developing and curating some of the most delicious recipes for us this season, should you need a little inspo! Without further ado:
- I'll start with my in-house spice faves - our masalas (freshly milled spice blends!) are THE BEST and have been proven to get me out of many a cooking rut. But also, if you're looking for spices to gift alongside the drinks recipe zine - a medley of our turmeric, sumac, saffron, nutmeg, ginger, chai masala, pumpkin spice, hot cocoa and jaggery will set you up for a year of very tasty beverages! Our gift page is also sorted by price range and looking real cute right now. You're welcome!
- I've been a Transcendence Coffee Syrup fan girl since their OG Gulab Jamun latte days. I'm BEAMING with pride to say that all their syrups are now made with spices by yours truly! And we're giving y'all early access to our new collab Dutch Speculaas flavor! It is layered and gorgeous, and we had a blast developing it together. Latte szn got a real upgrade.
- Chris of Tart Vinegar is an acid alchemist. I reach for the Salad & Soup vin and the Celery vin most often, but everything she makes is thoughtfully sourced, mind bogglingly handcrafted and so much fun to cook with.
- Seka Hills has been team Diaspora's favorite olive oil for years now, and we'll never stop shouting it from the rooftops! I buy the Arbequina or the Olio Nuovo by the gallon (!) and am so grateful to the Yocha Dehe Wintun nation for bringing us this fruit of their indigenous land stewardship.
- I am and always will be a Song Tea evangelist - their beautifully sourced, freshly harvested oolongs are my favorite morning ritual, and I have gifted their gorgeous sampler collection to all my fellow tea lovers.
- Saba Jams (Tayberry Rose! Meyer Lemon Coriander Marmalade! Four time Good Food Award winner!) and Ayako & Family (their single varietal plum collection! SWOON!) take the very best of West Coast produce and perfectly preserve them into little jars of magic and flavor. They take everything you know about jam and blow it out of the water for the better. Seriously.
- My friend Kat of Katfish Salmon uses traditional and sustainable fishing techniques to source the most gorgeous salmon in Alaska every summer working with local micro-canneries to then smoke and process her catch. I buy full cases of the smoked, canned Keta and the smoked Coho strips (both shelf stable until opened!) and gift them to all the dinner party hosts in my life. Though I have also been known to eat a can over the sink with a little hot sauce and call it a damn good lunch.
- I've become a big miso soup for breakfast person and Shared Cultures' collection of modern misos have been adding playful, delicious umami to my bowl. Their mushroom misos have been my ongoing faves!
- Speaking of breakfast, Honey Hi is an LA institution that I've been known to basically live at when I'm in town. We had a blast collaborating with them on a seasonal pancake mix (that's GF too!) ft. our bestselling pumpkin spice. They are the fluffy, hearty, perfectly spiced pancakes of Christmas morning dreams.
- My current fave chili crisp is Mama Teavs' OG Heat that's HEAVY on the garlic! Did I fly back to Mumbai with 12 jars in my suitcase? You'll never know...
- Don't have time to buy a cool, niche food present online and are based in NorCal? You are in luck! We launched our hot cocoa mix, pumpkin spice and a few baking spices in 25 Whole Foods Markets across Northern California. Find the list of locations here!
- Scoring one of Sarah Hussaini's intricate geometric mugs is akin to scoring Taylor Swift tickets. I think that's the right pop culture ref?! Her next drop is Dec 13th and it's your chance to get some of the most beautifully crafted pottery I've ever seen.
- From their colorful baking sheets and mats, to their iconic Dutchess - Great Jones has consistently made some of my favorite fun, playful and really high quality cookware.
- We are ride-or-die for East Fork Pottery out here (my collection of their plates, bowls and cups have been amassed over the years and are some of my proudest possessions) but collaborating with them on our drinks recipe zine introduced me to their stunning, beautifully made glassware! I have never lusted after a coupe or calico glass so deeply but here we are!
- Buying myself a high quality chef's knife that feels smooth and fluid in my hands was a game changer for my kitchen skills. In a sea of garbage knives and noisy chef bro knife marketing, I adore Bernal Cutlery for their commitment to craft and quality. Their Friedr 8" Chef's Knife is what I'd gift the home cook that appreciates well made tools!
- I did a lot of research before I settled on this exact model of Zojirushi rice cooker and I consider it to be an essential kitchen appliance. Not to be all Wirecutter on y'all but it's the perfect combo of decently priced meets high tech, and all my exes have tried to run away with mine. True story :')
- Finally, I know how biased I am, but we have worked so hard on our tools and home goods. From how they are made, to collaboratively designing them with our production partners to feel just right in your hands and homes, they are a true labor of love. My everyday star is the Roshni Mortar & Pestle, but my frivolous fave is the Chai Caddy!
FASHION & HOME:
- I've looked up to the Stockman sisters of Block Shop long before Diaspora Co. was even a kernel of a dream, and they've been mentors and collaborators from the very start. I deeply appreciate the very real care with which they work with their production partners beyond their obvious and boundless creativity! The colorful rugs, the graphic robes, the softest table linens, it's all so damn delicious.
- Sourcing beautiful leather shoes and wares from Gaziantep, Turkey, Sabah is a brand for beautifully designed, really well made things. But it's also a feeling - Mickey's approach to community, to radical hospitality, it's the warmth that keeps people coming back.
- I suspect that I was NorBlack NorWhite's first and most short lived intern way back in 2013, and have been in awe of their meteoric rise ever since. We collaborated on a yummy stripey Cassata Cream Apron that exudes pure joy whenever I wear it, but my real fave has been their Mango SZN collection. Nostalgia meets South Asian culture meets textile, 100% pure love!!!
OTHER DELICIOUS THINGS:
- We are very proud to be a bunch of nerds who love to read just as much as we love spices. We love cookbooks! We love fiction! We love book clubs! The Diaspora Bookshelf is a constantly evolving online curation of our favorite books across genres. For me, taking the time to curate a selection of books for someone you love is the sexiest present!
- Bharti of Litrahb Perfumery is one of the smartest, most incisive people working across art, culture and business. That she uses all that talent to make truly revolutionary perfumes is a gift to the rest of us. Everything she makes is exquisite but I've been dying to try Wearable Anger ;)
NOW FOR SOME FEELINGS:
For the first few years of Diaspora, this community and its shared values was our most magical gift. It was a few thousand folks that aligned with our progressive politics, the deep understanding that true equity across the spice industry is a complex, ongoing process, and those who appreciated when we took a clear and loud stand about issues that related to our core brand values. Disrupting an industry that was built on colonialism and violence, and doing it as a queer, brown immigrant has meant that taking a stand against injustice has rarely felt like an option - fighting for space and equity has been my life story and that of my chosen communities.
As we've grown, with salaries, revenue and our farm partners' livelihoods on the line, it's felt harder to keep our politics loud and proud alongside our product offerings. I know of exactly two highly exceptional case studies (Patagonia and Ben & Jerry's) who have successfully been able to scale whilst staying true to at least some version of their mission and values. So as we continue to take difficult positions that are rooted in our core values of equity, community and queerness, please know that it comes from a place of wild hope. It is borne out of a radically tender desire for everyone to be truly okay. The hope is that our community of kindred spirits will and can grow. That we will continue to expand this beautiful circle of care, that the number of people for whom integrity and accountability matter can vastly outweigh those for whom it doesn't and won't. I don't have all the answers, I currently actually have more existential crises as a founder than witty one liners to end a newsletter with. But as ever, I am so thankful for all of you for being here, and for the privilege to do this job. Thank you for letting us bring you the most delicious spices from South Asia's best farms, it is such the honor of my everyday :')
With love & in community,
Sana Javeri Kadri