The retailer’s point of difference is its special blends, such as its ‘Bavarian Roast Chicken Spice’, ‘Aussie Meat Pie Spice’, and ‘Melbourne Coffee Meat Rub’ made from imperfect coffee beans combined with activated charcoal, chipotle chilli and cocoa.
“Having pre-mix blends and giving new ideas and making it super simple makes [using spices] really accessible, easy and time-saving,” Konecsny says.
People don’t have to blend and don’t have to measure.
From a rocky beginning when the pair struggled to get a lease, the business has boomed with eight stores across Melbourne and Sydney offering more than 350 single-origin spices, herbs, salts, peppers, teas and sugars from around the world.
Gewürzhaus turned over more than $7 million last year and employs close to 100 staff.
Christmas is a particularly busy period with the sisters trying to make their stores feel like a traditional Christmas market.
“For us, it is still three months in one, it’s crazy,” Konecsny says.
With the herb and spice industry in Australia valued at $413 million last year, researchers Ibisworld say consumers have demonstrated an “increasing willingness” to experiment with their food, trying new products and flavours.
Industry revenue is expected to grow at an annualised six per cent over the five years through 2018, driven by customers becoming more experimental when cooking at home.
“Many foreign cuisines require greater use of herbs and spices, strengthening sales as consumers try to obtain the best possible flavour in their cooking,” Ibisworld’s 2019 report says.
An increasing number of businesses are serving up spicy alternatives to market giants McCormick and Wrigley.
Jordyn Evans started Mingle Seasoning from her kitchen one Sunday afternoon after becoming an “avid label reader” who was dismayed at all the sugar and artificial flavourings in the seasonings she relied on.
The 28-year-old started the business three years ago, investing $10,000 to create a range of spice blends made from healthy natural ingredients.
“Originally it was a side hustle with a website and Instagram account and after a year I decided to put all my poker chips in and work on it full time,” she says.
Evans started selling to independent stores and is stocked in more than 1000 stores around Australia but her big break came when she got a foot in the door with Coles with ranging in its Coles local supermarket for her Mingle Curry in a Hurry and Spag Bol Speedy Style.
Last month she secured a national deal worth around $500,000 for Coles to stock her spice mixes nationally in 820 stores.
“I feel like spices have always had a place in retail and I think with seasoning, which is spices blended together, I am really appealing to the convenience of shaking it on,” Evans says. “People don’t have to blend and don’t have to measure.”
Evans had to take out a personal loan to fund Coles’ first purchase order and says it has been a quick lesson in scaling up.
Being a sole founder and bootstrapping the business has been tough but Evans says she has big ambitions.
“I want Mingle to be part of the dinner-time conversation and create more solutions around dinner time,” she says. “I want to shake things up in the spice aisle and really shake things up in the category. Spices is a very complacent category that has lacked innovation.”
Cara is the small business editor for The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald based in Melbourne