In quarantine, much of our cooking has gotten repetitive. With few chances to go on long grocery shopping trips, most of us need a new way to spice up our cooking and our meals. This is what Ihsan Munir and his team are here for. They have created a spice business to help change your cooking and add something extra.
“I have been making spice blends since I was a child. It was something that I observed my grandmother doing and I always had a passion for flavorful food. One of the challenges with many of the spices on the market is that they are made primarily from salt and contain additives, preservatives, fillers and more. At Islandboy Spices, the goal was to develop flavorful spices blends that are representative of our Virgin Islands culture and are low in salt. As we say, our products are all-natural, low sodium and do not contain any additives, preservatives, MSG, or GMOs – just ingredients you can pronounce,” Ihsan explains.
Looking for ideas for Christmas gifts, Ihsan’s wife suggested sending relatives and friends various spices and recipes to go along with them that he had been using since childhood. The reaction from the people who received these gifts was astoundingly positive, which made Ihsan think that he could make this into something bigger.
“Our family and friends loved the spice blends and asked where they could purchase them. Presented with a demand, we bought empty bottles in bulk and began producing the spices in large quantities for friends and family.
In January 2011, Islandboy Spices was born. In its infancy, Islandboy Spices operated solely as an online store. However, over the last several years, Islandboy Spices has expanded its retail footprint to brick and mortar stores and has evolved as a go-to brand for consumers all over the world. With retailers in the Caribbean, the United States and Guam, and more, Islandboy Spices is growing and seeking further market penetration and market share,” Ihsan recounts.
After having a successful start online, the challenge then became how to get the spices into physical stores. Though they haven’t made the penetration that they would have hoped to have, it is something that they are still actively working hard on and believe that they can achieve it once the pandemic calms down.
“The biggest obstacle that we have overcome so far has been the transition from solely an online retailer to getting our products in brick and mortar stores – getting into grocery store chains. That was a whole new business model for us but it was necessary to experience the growth that we are after. Truthfully, that is still a work in progress as we aim to gain greater market share and deeper penetration into the national grocery store chains. We have retailers in the Caribbean, the continental U.S., Guam, Japan and other places. However, with an ever-expanding customer-base, the goal is to have our products on the shelves of some of the biggest stores in the United States while branching out to other countries as well. The possibilities are limitless. It just takes sticktoitiveness!” Ihsan exclaims.
Ihsan definitely has a lot of sticktoitiveness. In 2021, he has a lot of big plans for Islandboy Spice in addition to continuing the push to get the spices in stores. They are beginning to offer larger and different types of spices.
“In the immediate future, we are working on introducing new product sizes. Currently our products are offered in the typical 5.5oz spice jar. However, we are introducing 16oz, 32oz, and 128oz jars. The 128oz jar is more of a commercial use item as we are also broadening our customer base and expanding deeper into commercial accounts like restaurants, hotel chains, government and military, etc. This is all part of our growth plan and a project we are currently immersed in.
We will also be branching out from specifically the Caribbean spice blends market and introducing another product line that is also representative of our culture; but mum’s the word for now,” Ihsan says.
Ihsan is the perfect example of the American dream and is going to continue to push for that financial success.
“Ultimately, I am after the American dream – opportunities and security for my family. However, I am also all about giving back and being a good steward of my blessings. We all have talents and have been blessed in many ways and ought to be grateful for those blessings and pay it forward when we can. I also encourage all of your readers to visit us online at www.islandboyspices.com and to try our amazing products. They are healthy and flavorful. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram @islandboyspices and feel free to tag us in your posts featuring your yummy dishes with Islandboy Spices. We love showing off our #CustomerCreations,” Ihsan states.