Ten years ago today, Reluctant Trading opened for business.
To be exact, I made the website live on 12/12/12 at 12:12 pm. (If only my wedding anniversary was as easy to remember.)
We launched with just one item, Divakar's #004 Tellicherry Peppercorns. Big, beautiful, black peppercorns with a gorgeous citrus aroma.
I didn't know a Tellicherry peppercorn from a telephone pole. I was reluctant. But Divakar, my friend in India, was relentless (or at least persistent). He sent samples and I followed my nose.
This video tells the humorous story. My talented friend Barton insisted on making the epic short film about our humble beginning.
The short has been watched on YouTube 95,000 times. And my family and friends only account for about 32,000 of the views.
During the last 10 years, I've been fortunate to experience amazing things with Reluctant Trading.
I traveled to the jungles of India to see men climb bamboo ladders 30 feet high just to pluck the freshest peppercorns.
I walked the freezing coast of Iceland to learn how salt is harvested from our salt maker, Bjorn.
I flew to Divakar's hometown in Kerala to watch skilled artisans weave aprons on 100 year-old wooden looms.
There are so many more things I'd like to share, but I'll save them for upcoming emails.
But to be honest, it hasn't all been sugar and spice.
In order for the company to survive the early spice era, we had to do everything ourselves since we couldn't afford to hire help.
My wife re-packed many of our spices, a job she detested. Her hair often smelled like fresh paprika.
The days sometimes ended with tears in our eyes - Karla from the long day of manual labor. Me from my mild paprika allergy.
During the early spice years, I personally packed and shipped our orders from our basement, and included hand-written thank you notes in each box.
Huge trailers periodically pulled into our driveway and dropped pallets of spices from India in our garage, cracking the cement floor.
Unfortunately, the business lost money for a long time as I tried to source enough products around our peppercorns to help finance my trips around the world.
There were many nights when I questioned my sanity for keeping the business going.
Had I lost my peppercorns?
Through the doubt, I kept going and made key adjustments. Fortunately, Karla didn't make the adjustment of divorcing me.
In 2018, I hired Mike, an old employee of mine from my previous company. I knew we didn't have the business to support his salary back then, but I also knew we wouldn't make it without him.
It was one of the best decisions of my life. If you've ever had a question or a problem, you've probably worked with Mike. Once Mike came aboard, it wasn't long before we started growing.
A few years ago, I saw the need for high quality, affordable aprons at the restaurants I was visiting. I went back to my roots in textiles and worked with Divakar to design a line of aprons for us.
In 2020, we added aprons to Reluctant Trading and spun off Reluctant Threads, an apron-only website. Today, our apron business is growing faster than a pepper vine in a monsoon.
Over the years, I've been lucky to work with many wonderful, loyal, talented friends. Alan Shortall and his amazing photography. Betty Barquin and her beautiful styling. Michael Mabry and his extraordinary graphic design.
Our partnership with Troy MacLarty and his Bollywood Theater Indian restaurants in Portland gave us legitimacy with top chefs and consumers. I'm still so proud of the line we created together. I know many of you are cult customers because of these items.
And of course, we wouldn't be where we are today without you. YOU! Our customers! Ordering time and time again. Giving us amazing 5-Star Reviews. Raving about us to your friends. Sharing your love of Reluctant with others. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
And last, but not least, the whole enterprise wouldn't be possible without my partner-in-pepper, spice swami, and apron aficionado - Divakar.
Divakar, my friend in Kerala, has become my Indian brother. There is barely a day that doesn't go by without some type of communication.
He exclusively sources about 90% of our products for us. We have built an entire business together on trust and friendship. A relationship has actually spanned two business and 20 years of work.
Divakar is the reason we have finally turned the corner and become successful after 10 years. He is the reason I started the company. I was Reluctant. He was Relentless. How fortunate I am that he was.
- Scott Eirinberg, 12.12.22