Founder Spotlight: Jelece Morris
Tell us a bit about your company
BoCa Flavor: We are curators of bold flavor, creating Caribbean-infused blends for everyday consumption.
What inspired you to start your business / what opportunity in the market are you seeking to address?
As a recent Wharton MBA graduate, the concepts of business have become a part of my everyday life. I can’t help but see the opportunity to solve problems and make processes more efficient. When the world came to a halt in 2020 due to the pandemic, it really challenged me to push my creative mindset to the limits — in order to stay encouraged and to make the best of a very debilitating situation. Catching up with my best friend from college, Suzanne Delica, proved to be good for the soul and for business. Sharing our vision boards and parked business ideas led us to the uplifting powers of food and culture. After months of refinement, development, and sampling of what we believed to be an authentic yet modern representation of our culinary roots, we put our seasoning blend in the hands of some of our best critics, Jamaicans, and Haitians. We received overwhelmingly positive feedback on the concept and made a few minor tweaks to intensify the flavors until one day we both looked at each other and said “This is the one!” Out of those developments birthed our flagship product Taíno Spice, a Caribbean-infused all-purpose seasoning made for just about everything. We launched the handcrafted blend in 2020 and have been consistently impressed by the exciting responses we’ve received thus far. We’re just getting started and eager to bring to the world the goodness of Caribbean culture with a modern twist.
What about your personal background, experience, or perspective fuels your passion for this venture?
I am most proud of launching a brand rooted in tradition and unity. As a Jamaican-American, many life milestones have been celebrated with food, dance, and music. These elements are core to many Caribbean island cultures and a stimulus for the creation of BoCa Flavor. We want to bring that feeling of celebration through food into the lives of more people. BoCa Flavor takes a modern approach to traditional Caribbean seasoning, fusing staple ingredients from the islands to bring everyday blends to liven up your kitchen. What sets us apart from what currently exists in the market is that we use all-natural, native ingredients core to most island foods and craft blends reminiscent of what our Mothers use to make a soulful feast. Our blends take the Caribbean flavor profile beyond jerk and curry to unveil the breadth and depth of what makes the Caribbean so unique.
What has been one or two of the biggest learnings so far?
Entering a new industry provided quite the learning curve, coupled with building a business with a partner virtually during a pandemic. I quickly learned, although cliché, effective communication is key! Leveraging technologies, such as video conferencing and cloud-based collaborative applications, has become essential to keep us productive and on the same page. To go from a concept to a launched product in a few months speaks volumes to my working relationship with my co-Founder. While our team is quite agile in growing a business in a virtual environment, perhaps the biggest hurdle has been understanding the various dynamics of disrupting the food industry. The deeper I dive into the food market, the more I am learning that these hurdles are simply challenges necessary to vet the business. All in all, BoCa Flavor’s multi-talented team is very passionate and accustomed to mobilizing quickly to attain our goals. I think we’ll be alright!
What is an obstacle you anticipate grappling with as you continue to build this venture?
Figuring out when and how to scale the business through distributors. I guess you can say these are good problems to have. When we originally built the business, we figured we would pursue distribution opportunities after year one. The power of social media and our networks has helped accelerate the pace at which we have been able to gain exposure to interested distributors. Now the question remains how do we manage a B2C business while scaling and executing a B2B strategy at the same time.
How can the WAFFA community help you?
Spread the word about what BoCa Flavor is doing.