Updated: Apr 20, 2021
Who is SpiceTopia? We often share what SpiceTopia is--A bulk spice and loose leaf tea shop that also specializes in local wares--But that doesn't share the who of SpiceTopia. As a small business in the small town of Ventura, CA, the people behind the name SpiceTopia are pretty important.
We can't tell you who SpiceTopia is now, without first sharing who created and then grew SpiceTopia before we came along in October of 2019.
SpiceTopia was the creation of Rob Bragnezer who wished to recreate the feel of the spice bazaars he had fallen in love with in Istanbul, Turkey. His brainchild quickly became the place for food lovers to gather in downtown Ventura, California. As a self-proclaimed foodie, I found myself drawn to SpiceTopia over and over because it was so different than any other spot of Main Street. But when a family member became ill, Rob made the hard choice to move out of state to care for his family.
In what was an overnight decision, Ashley Pope left behind her corporate job to become the new owner of SpiceTopia. As the master of community building, Ashley reached out to small local producers to both encourage their creativity and provide them a space to sell their creations. Many of those producers have gone on to sell not only at SpiceTopia, but also at markets across the country. After eight years of lovingly growing Spicetopia, again the decision to step away from SpiceTopia to care for family was made. Ashley's focus had shifted to advocating for those with autism, and she made the difficult decision to step away from SpiceTopia to put her all into that work.
And that is where my family entered the picture. I watched Ashley step into the role of owner of SpiceTopia and over the years admired what she had done with this little store in Ventura. When I received the email with news SpiceTopia was for sale, our family discussed how we could continue the legacy of SpiceTopia. Our unexpected leap into the spice business was sudden, surprising, and unbelievably fun!
SpiceTopia has truly become a family business for our family, as we quickly learned it takes an army to run this venture. My daughter, Anna-Marie, moved from Chicago back to Ventura to manage the store on a daily basis. My son, Ethan Tan, initially helped us figure out our online presence. My brother-in-law, Eliah Tan, moved from Squaw Valley to Ventura to help with our operations. I focus on the creative side of the business. And of course, my husband, Jonathan Tan, who we refer to as our not-so-silent silent partner, is the one pushing us behinds the scenes to make this a financial success. We also have the biggest cheerleading section anyone could imagine as family and community members near and far offer their support!
Today, SpiceTopia has become the extension of the Tan Family. We're proud to carry on the legacy of Rob and Ashley. But SpiceTopia couldn't be what it is today without the support of Ventura which we feel everyday. Regulars, tourists, and even those who come once a year to shop for the holidays provide more support than we could have imagined when we first stepped into this role as owners of SpiceTopia.
So who is SpiceTopia? It's the legacy of Rob and Ashley. The Tan Family. And you--our community that support us everyday.