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BY Abu Mubarik, 4:30pm October 18, 2022,

Why Shabria Jerome gave up her goal of becoming a nurse to make spices 

Photo credit GBH. /www.wgbh.org

Shabria Jerome was working as a nursing assistant when COVID-19 struck. At the time, she was also taking classes to become a nurse, but everything came to a halt when schools were closed, including several public spaces.

When schools went remote, the single mother was left with no choice but to quit so as to take care of her child, who was then in kindergarten.

“I didn’t have a choice but to leave my job because I had no child care for my daughter, which was really hard. So, that was that!” the 29-year-old of South Boston told GBH.

Once she quit her job as a nursing assistant, Jerome decided to be her own boss in the next phase of her life. This was influenced by incidents with white supervisors who often denied her new opportunities, which she believed were fueled by racism.

Meanwhile, Jerome comes from a family of cooks. One of her uncles made spices while everyone cooked Creole dishes. In contemplating her next side hustle, she got a suggestion from her sister to turn to the family tradition and make a business out of seasoning blends.

“Literally I had a conversation with God and was just sitting there like, ‘I need something to do,’” Jerome said. “And that’s when she [my sister] gave me the idea… It was so casual, so nonchalant, like, you know. So I felt like she was pretty much the vessel I needed.”

She understudied major seasoning companies like Goya and McCormickGoya and later came up with the brand name “Continental Flavor” — for seasonings from every continent. With the support of Foundation Kitchen, she learned everything from budgeting to food safety to networking with other business owners.

”It’s interesting hearing everyone’s story,” Jerome said, “and it makes me not feel as bad. ‘Oh, okay, I’m not that broke.’ Or, you know, it makes me feel better about what I’m doing. “

With feedback from family and friends, she subsequently came up with the Caribbean spice mix she called “Sazon” and launched a website

According to Jerome, starting her spices venture did not come easy. She had to tap into her savings and rely on friends because several attempts to get a grant proved futile and banks were not ready to give her a loan. After all, she had no credit history.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: October 18, 2022


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