Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Brands

Community

This Pride, Spice Company Diaspora Co. Is Celebrating Being a ‘Queer Business’

"A queer business is simply a space ... that allows those who fall outside of the norm to actually come to work as their whole selves," says one staffer.

Lock Icon

Become a member to unlock this story and receive other great perks.

Already have an Outside Account? Sign in

Outside+ Logo

All Access
$1.33 / week *

  • A $500 value with everything in the Print + Digital Plan plus 25+ benefits including:
  • Member-only content on 17 Outside network publications: Clean Eating, Yoga Journal, Outside & more
  • More than 100 diet-specific meal plans
  • Try out best-in-class outdoor gear and apparel for free before you buy
  • Coming Soon: Premium access to Outside TV and 1,000+ hours of exclusive shows
  • Annual subscription to Outside magazine
Join Outside+
Vegetarian Times

Print + Digital
Special Price
$0.46 / week *

  • Annual subscription to a magazine of your choice from the Outside network
  • Access to all member-exclusive content on VegetarianTimes.com
  • Ad-free access to VegetarianTimes.com
Join Vegetarian Times

*Outside memberships are billed annually. You may cancel your membership at anytime, but no refunds will be issued for payments already made. Upon cancellation, you will have access to your membership through the end of your paid year. More Details

“As the aunties would say,” reads an Instagram post from Diaspora Co., “what does your sexuality have to do with selling spices?” The company – which sells beautiful spices while educating consumers about social justice and the lasting impact of colonialism – announced earlier this week that it proudly sees itself as a ‘queer business’ and wanted to explain what that means to the people who work there.

“A queer business is simply a space within the current racist, transphobic, and white supremacist system that allows those who fall outside of the norm to actually come to work as their whole selves,” Eve, a Diaspora Co. staffer, wrote in a company blog post. “Being a part of a queer business for me is being a part of a group of individuals who are consistently open to recognizing their power, privilege, role within the community, and ability to redirect the systems they are a part of. Queerness and business are like oil and water, one is rooted in anti-capitalism while one is capitalism itself. They cannot mix, however they can exist next to each other in the same space.”

Defying norms has always been a part of the Diaspora Co. business plan. The desire for spices was a motivating factor in the European colonization and exploitation of India, Indonesia, and elsewhere around the globe. Even now, not only do narratives around the “exotic” nature of these products continue, but the farmers who actually grow and harvest the product often see little return for their work, while middle-men corporations absorb a larger share of the profits. Four years ago, the company was founded to try a different approach.

“Diaspora Co. was founded in late 2017 to create a radically new, and equitable vision of the spice trade, decolonizing a commodity back into a seasonal crop, and a broken system into an equal exchange,” says a company statement. “Beyond highlighting gorgeous, indigenous spice varieties, it’s also about creating a business for us, by us. Complicating and deepening what “Made in India” means, and how we tell our own stories of freedom, struggle, and diaspora through food.”

The range now includes an array of spices, all sourced from small, multi-generational family farms in India and Sri Lanka that follow organic practices. In addition to jars of chilis, cloves, ginger, and other spices, the company collaborates with other indie, BIPOC-led brands to create sauces, teas, and seasonings.

But even as they pay farmers an average rate of six times higher than other spice brokers and attempt to use their platform for positive change, Diaspora’s staffers acknowledge that, ultimately, they’re still a company functioning within a marketplace. The true long-term vision of their queer business is a more radical societal shift.

“And as we’ve learned from our queer elders, specifically Black queer and trans visionaries and feminists, we know that queerness is rooted in anti-capitalism and beliefs of abundance,” writes Diaspora wholesale manager Namita. “So really, the true sense of being a queer business is holding this dissonance and these conflicts while still doing our best to temporarily work within the systems as we aim to dismantle and abolish them.”


RELATED: Vrunda Satpanthi Shares How to Make Her Mom’s Flaky Vegetarian Samosas


Get more of what you love from VT. Follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter