In 2014 a small event changed the course of my life. I had placed an order for one kilogram of Madagascar vanilla beans from a small company located in the SAVA region. I was in search of fresh vanilla to make homemade vanilla extract to use as gifts for friends and family.
A couple of weeks later, a DHL shipment arrived. I remember the heavenly fragrance emanating from the beat-up cardboard box. I held the box close to my face, savoring the magnificent aroma for several minutes! I don’t remember what woke me from my vanilla bean trance, but eventually, I decided to open the box. What I discovered inside did not disappoint. As I peeled back the top of the box, I revealed two of the most beautiful bundles of fresh vanilla beans! The aroma still enthralled me as I gazed at these exquisite beans, wrapped in traditional Madagascar raffia ribbon.
So I began to earnestly research this remarkable spice. It didn’t take long to discover that grocery stores and online shops were selling vanilla beans and extracts with unfair markups. Even worse, some of the vanilla available was not of very good quality.
My friends and family were thrilled with their homemade vanilla extract from these magnificent beans and so I told them about my idea. Baking has always been an important creative outlet and a way for families and communities to connect. I decided that affordable, high-quality vanilla beans (and therefore extract) should not be such a rare commodity. Although it is clearly a luxury, I wanted to offer high-quality vanilla beans to the masses via online sales channels at affordable prices.
We were certainly not the first to decide to sell vanilla online, but we had a mission (and still do!)
We found some like-minded people and set off to make things happen. This strategy has built a firm customer base of individuals and organizations who love our vanilla. They help us grow year over year—a simple beginning with many lessons learned along the way.
In the first five years, we quietly built a devoted customer base while establishing relationships with our suppliers and farmers. We tried many different suppliers to find the ones that fit our strict criteria for the perfect vanilla bean. Also, Vanilla Bean Kings looked carefully at issues like sustainability, fair trade practices, and traceability.
Then, it was time to make the journey ourselves. In 2018, we laid the foundation for an adventure to Madagascar to finally see it all for ourselves.
In November of 2019, we said goodbye to our families and hopped on four different planes before arriving at our final destination. It was over 20 hours of total flight time, but our anticipation overcame our fatigue.
When we finally arrived at our end destination for that day, we were overwhelmed by the beauty of Orchidea Beach II in northeastern Madagascar. Nestled on the beach of the Indian Ocean, you can hear the rolling waves from your room each night. Their garden full of flowers and tropical plants gave us an indication of how well the Madagascar vanilla vines could grow nearby.
We spent the next three weeks traveling up and down the Eastern Madagascar coast, meeting with suppliers and touring different vanilla farms. That year, we spent Thanksgiving in Madagascar with our new friends celebrating, enjoying their company, and learning as much as we could about the vanilla industry.
We now dedicate a significant amount of resources to growing our brand so that we can help the people of Madagascar. Sustainability and fair trade practices are no longer theories or distant concepts but are factored into our decision making. Our farmer friends in Madagascar rely on us to support their families. We gladly accept this responsibility to our suppliers that goes well beyond a typical vendor relationship.
Each year is an incredible year of growth for Vanilla Bean Kings. What started in the basement of my home has grown into a business that quickly needed more resources to expand in line with our mission. We now have a larger facility with a solid team aimed at accomplishing our goals.
Our customer base has exploded due to word of mouth about our premium quality products and competitive pricing .
We have made great strides to not only expand the company but make sure our suppliers, employees, and the people of Madagascar get to experience the fruits of our labor. We are planning for the future through forward-thinking and are always looking for new team members to join us in our quest. If your journey seems to fit with our beliefs and corporate culture, we invite you to join us! Contact us, and we’ll see how we can work together!