We’re always curious about people’s stories, especially when it comes to starting a business based in chai. Our curiosity led us to a chit-chaat about chai, and much more with Hema Jagada, a trained Ayurveda Consultant and founder of the chai based company, Restore Simply. Based out of Dallas, Texas, Hema shares the inspiration behind developing her own product and the blend closest to her heart!
A Q & A with Hema Jagada
Why do you think spices are important to our wellness?
One of the central themes in Ayurveda is the concept of “agni”. This is the digestive fire that not only lives in the stomach and liver but also pervades our bodies to perform many different functions. The strength of our agni determines how well we digest and metabolize everything we eat and drink, and also affects the quality of cell renewal. Our health certainly depends on an optimal agni level.
For example, everyone agrees something like kale is a wonderful, healthy food. If your agni is strong, you would be able to digest a raw kale salad and all the nutrients would be absorbed beautifully and you would reap all the rewards. If however, your agni is compromised, or maybe your constitution means you have a delicate digestive track, then that kale salad is not going to digest well and may go on to create undigested food particles, which can lead to something we call ama. At this point, the digestive system becomes over-burdened and does not function optimally.
This is where spices come in. Spices are nature’s gift to us because they enhance digestion through their ayurvedic properties (gunas), and taste. Most spices belong to the pungent, astringent, or bitter taste groups. Foods that belong to these groups are typically wonderful for enhancing agni, and aiding detoxification. Spices are also generally heating and this also creates the optimal conditions for igniting Agni. Spices that have a cooling nature are typically excellent for supporting the central nervous system which is also essential to healthy digestion.
The history of spices fascinates me as these little gems were prized for their luxurious aromas and their decadent flavor profiles. All those that dedicated their lives to the spice trail played an important role in bringing the spices far and wide across the globe.
What key Ayurveda principles do you use to formulate Restore Simply products?
As I mentioned earlier, every spice has a unique profile in terms of its properties and the effect they have upon the body. Virya tells us whether the spice is heating or cooling. The vipaka tell us the post-digestive effect of the spice. The rasa, (taste) tells us which dosha is going to be affected by the spice. Restore Simply keeps the knowledge from the ancient wisdom at the front of everything that we do. We incorporate the unique characteristics of each spice when creating our recipes, and every spice is measured and hand blended to create balanced and therapeutic products.
Another critical concept that is challenged by the modern lifestyle is that of the energy that we put into the food we create. Ayurveda is a proponent of the transfer of energy when preparing food. The energy that comes from our mood is transferred into the food, therefore affecting the consumer. Food not only nourishes our bodies but also our minds and souls. The nourishment comes from the energy with which we eat. Taking time to prepare the food, and being intentional and mindful is an offering of love and nourishment. Our blends honor this wisdom with whole-hearted good intentions, and the positive vibes are what make our products so nurturing. We have witnessed, time and time again, the reaction when someone tries our products for the first time. There is always a look of deep satisfaction and joy. This is the experience we want to share with everyone.
Our Balance Chai blend is tri-doshic, which means it is a wonderful addition to anyone’s day. It is made with 6 different spices and each one supports the body’s natural healing system, and the nervous system. Our Breathe Turmeric Golden Milk blend is a timeless recipe for supporting detoxification and balancing kapha dosha. Our Calm Wellness tea balances pitta dosha, and supports digestive harmony. Lastly, our Earth Wellness tea balances vata dosha with a predominance of warming, grounding spices.
What inspired you to start Restore Simply?
Restore Simply was conceived with a single intention; to create a wholesome and nourishing experience for our customers, and to allow them to take a pause in the day to refuel and recharge. Through my study of Ayurveda, it is evident that every cell in the human body wants to move to towards wellness, and by providing the means to support this, the body’s innate healing system works it’s magic every time.
I grew up with spices playing a major role in my mother’s kitchen, and the subconscious learning began even before I was tall enough to see over the kitchen counter. Fast forwarding to bringing up my own children in an increasingly fast-paced environment, I wanted to create something that would carry the wisdom of our ancestors forward, but I knew it had to be in a fresher and modern format. Restore Simply was born to do just that; maintain the wisdom of all that came before us, and harness the knowledge to make conscious and mindful choices in the modern age that we live in.
What began as something I wanted to do for my children, to restore the ancient wisdom, has grown into a larger purpose of supporting so many on their journey of restoring wellness.
Your chai blend is a multi-generational recipe, what memory pops-up when you’re sipping a cup of masala chai?
The Balance Chai blend is closest to my heart because it is the product which started the company. I learnt the recipe from my mother who would use her expertise to blend the spices without any measurements. The finesse with which my mom would combine the spices was spellbinding and I still picture her estimating the quantities of each spice with just her eyes. I shadowed her in the kitchen until she began to hand the reins over to me. Slowly she would give me greater responsibilities, and I, ever-so-eager to please, took on more and more. Until I was blending solo, and she would just wave the spices in my direction and I would create the blends with my inner voice channeling her guidance.
After moving away halfway across the world, I continued making this blend and as friends and relatives tasted it, they would ask about it. What started off a small jar for my family grew into a mountain of chai spices!
I am conscious of the fact my children now watch me and learn from what I do, just as I did as a child. I feel like I am an important link for them to our heritage. They will carry all this beautiful wisdom with them, and it is an honor and privilege to be able to unlock so much for them and make it accessible for them to harness the wisdom of Ayurveda and carry it into the future.
When I see my daughter sipping her morning chai and getting every last particle of spice out from the bottom of the cup, I know my vision is unfolding, and this makes it complete.
As a female entrepreneur, a mother, what have been some challenges and key success in starting a product line?
They say entrepreneurship is in the blood. Well, it certainly is in mine! I come from a background of successful entrepreneurs and everything I learnt helping with the family business has come to become valuable advice with Restore Simply. Restore Simply has been a kind of catch-all for all the things I am deeply passionate about and it has become a place where I am authentically me. It has allowed me to find my purpose, and this has been the overriding motivator through the journey.
Every entrepreneurial journey is, of course, filled with ups and downs, and plenty of heartbreaks and tears but also cheers and joys. Before I began, I created my vision with the caveat that I may need to tweak it as the journey unfolds. My purpose was very clear, and I was clear about my priorities.
As a mother, I have tried to create an environment for my kids where they have space to just be. The special moments of cuddling on the sofa, or just going for a bike ride when the urge strikes are important for me as they will go on to be lifelong memories for my kids. Making fresh meals every day for my family is also a priority.
The hours needed for creating and running a business are definitely sometimes a challenge with all the other roles I have. What has helped is identifying key work hours, and making that time more productive by improving upon efficiencies and reducing distractions. I am a lot more mindful about what I say yes to, and try to take advantage of technological conveniences to save time. This could be in the form of mindful use of technology, and reminders on my to-do list stay focused on the whole vision.
I recently went through another period of re-balancing and released many things I was doing because I thought I was supposed to be. As women, we are conditioned to feel responsible for everything, but sometimes, letting go of this allows others to feel more confident in their abilities.
Staying flexible also allows me to release some aspects of my vision. By this, I mean that I am no longer saying yes to every event and every networking opportunity that comes my way. I consciously choose to spend my weekends at the kid’s band performances or soccer games. I am constantly growing and seeking out ways to improve upon what I do, and I think this helps me stay balanced.
Any words of wisdom you would like to share with entrepreneurs looking to start their own business?
The typical profile of an entrepreneur is of someone that is independent, willing to take a risk and has a strong creative sense. I opened myself up to hearing wisdom from other successful entrepreneurs and I always heard that the road is long, and it takes years to build an overnight success. There definitely are no shortcuts, and what we see on social media is not the complete picture. There are many occasions when you will question why you are doing what you are doing, but if you are anchored by a strong vision, this will carry you. Being flexible is also key as you learn so much along the way, and unless you are willing to change and adapt, you may work against the tide.
Take time in the beginning to create your vision, and figure out what need your product or service is fulfilling. Why should someone be interested in what you are offering? What makes you unique? These are hard questions at the beginning, but I think they are important.
How do you take time to nourish yourselves to keep Restore Simply from blossoming and to sustain balance?
Being the central figure both at home and at a relatively new and growing business means I have to be mindful of staying balanced. After studying Ayurveda and learning how self-care is so essential, I am conscious of making time to take pause to nourish myself. In the past, I have definitely found my cup empty because I was neglecting myself, and when I saw the effect it had upon my kids, I took steps to correct this.
Sleep is essential to my well-being and getting quality sleep is something I try not to compromise on. I know my body goes through the healing process during specific hours in the night, so I make it a priority to be asleep then.
I also take time to focus on ayurvedic self-care practices and be around like-minded people as a way to remind myself to fill my own cup first. Staying balanced and nourished means I am operating at my best. My creativity and flexibility require it. To live my dharma (purpose) and to bring my most authentic and best self to life means I have to take time for myself.
Has Ayurveda helped to shape your business model?
Absolutely, yes. Ayurveda hinges on the central idea of the 4 goals of life; karma (action), dharma (service, duties), artha (prosperity), and moksha (liberation). With this as a backdrop, Restore Simply is about fulfilling my dharma. With our products, we give people an introduction to Ayurveda and invite them to discover the wisdom to live purposeful, and intentional lives within the confines of ahimsa, as defined by Ayurveda. Everything we do is an offering and the care with which we create our products, is a part of the positive transfer of energy.
What inspires you?
It really is the people that come and share their stories with me. I love it when people open up their worlds up to me and tell me how Restore Simply was able to help them. From the lady that was able to control her heartburn with one of our teas, to the lady that created time in her day to simply sip a cup of chai because “something that good needs to be savored”, to the teen that found help with his allergies with our golden milk, to so many other stories that I have gathered, each as precious as a pearl. When I hear how through Restore Simply, Ayurveda was able to make a difference, I feel inspired to continue to share everything that is Restore Simply.
Hema Jagada is the founder of Restore Simply, a trained Ayurveda Lifestyle Consultant, and has spent most of her life immersed in the holistic nature of Ayurveda. Deeply passionate about sharing the wisdom of healing from within, she is an advocate for keeping it simple, and always natural.