Spicegrove founder diversifies product line to offset inflation with crowdfunding

By Ryan Daily

- Last updated on GMT

Image Credit: Spicegrove
Image Credit: Spicegrove

Related tags tea drinks Hibiscus Rtd tea

The founder of hibiscus/ginger tea beverage brand Spicegrove Audrey Powell is tackling inflation and supply challenges by launching new products featuring less expensive ingredients that complement those in her more premium flagship Caribbean hibiscus beverage, and by leveraging crowdfunding to cover additional costs.

Having moved from the corporate world to the beverage business, Powell launched her brand​ in 2018 with its Roselle + Ginger beverage, which pays homage to her Jamaican roots with a take on sorrel, a Caribbean hibiscus beverage served during the holidays. Roselle + Ginger is a “very functional beverage,​” which can be consumed as is or used as an elixir for cocktails, seltzers, or other teas, she said. 

The beverage features natural ingredients, including hibiscus, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, lime peel, and organic raw cane sugar. The hibiscus used in the beverage is the calyx of the plant, which is rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, Powell explained. By itself, hibiscus is sour, so it’s often paired with sugar, but Powell said she offers both a sweetened and non-sweetened version. 

From raw ingredients to packaging: Costs increases

Like many brands, Spicegrove has faced increased costs for raw material, co-packing, and warehousing in recent years, prompting Powell to launch a crowdfunding campaign on GoFundMe — an approach more small beverage and food brands have deployed in light of funding challenges​ — which she hopes will raise enough money to launch the next phase of her business.

One of the main challenges comes down to the cost of the raw ingredients, like ginger, which have “skyrocketed​” since COVID, going from around $22 for a 30-pound box to a high of around $60, Powell said. In addition to the increase in ginger prices, the hibiscus that Spicegrove uses is imported from Mexico or Egypt, which has also been pricey, she noted. The price of co-packing has also increased several times, which further cut into her margins, she added.

Retooling portfolio to tackle higher costs

To address these business challenges, Powell plans to use the money from the GoFundMe campaign​ to “retool​” her product lineup to offset some of these price increases.

One way she hopes to do this is by developing new products that aren’t as labor intensive to make, Powell said. She explained she will keep the current Roselle + Ginger beverage as a premium offering, but create another beverage using purees, which she'll sell at farmer's markets and festivals, she said. These products will still feature hibiscus but include different flavors like hibiscus pineapple or hibiscus citrus, she added.

But while these challenges are creating obstacles for her business, Powell remains undeterred from growing her brand.  

"I'm not giving up. ... I'm just looking for ways to retool this; there's no way I'm throwing in the towel because I know what it is that I'm sitting on, and it's just a matter of obviously somebody recognizing ... the potential of the product and saying, 'oh my goodness, here's a winner.'​"

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