Whether it is food or handicrafts, clothing or decor, Northeast India has always contributed a rich, cultural heritage in its products. These stand out for their unique aesthetics and eco-friendly products made from bamboo and other organic materials.
So here’s a list of some of the best Northeastern brands you must try:
1. Smoky Falls Tribe Coffee
Started in 2015 by Dasumarlin Majaw from Shillong, the Smoky Falls Tribe Coffee offers high-quality indigenous coffee from the northeastern state of Meghalaya.
Growing up in Tyrna, a small village in Shella Bholaganj, East Khasi Hills, Dasumarlin loved drinking the traditionally brewed indigenous coffee by her grandmother during her childhood days. This inspired her to explore the world of coffee and eventually established a brand that offers locally grown and freshly roasted coffee in different beans-strength (fine or coarse) and roast profiles (light, medium, and dark)
Besides, through her business venture, she empowers over 300 farmers from across Meghalaya by sourcing tonnes of coffee from them every year.
Buy their Dark Roasted Coffee here.
2. Meira Foods
Meira Foods, a small-scale food venture was started in 2004, by Hanjabam Shubhra Devi from Bamon Leikai in Imphal East, Manipur.
While running a non-profit called Action for Community Transformation Manipur (ACT-M), Shubhra Devi worked with several MSMEs (micro, small and medium enterprises) in skill development and training. But as she couldn’t find satisfaction with the work, the postgraduate in food and nutrition started a business venture of her own.
Thus starting small with just three women, Meira foods offer a variety of pickles, candies, salted dry fruits, and more, using indigenously grown wild fruits and vegetables in the region.
Besides, the enterprise directly employs more than 70 women from economically backward families.
Buy their king chilli and soya bean pickle here.
3. Dweller’s Tea
Dweller’s tea is an Imphal-based tea brand founded by Elizabeth Yamben, who left her high-paying job in Singapore to venture into the tea business. Started in 2017, the brand offers varieties of organic and healthy tea made from locally grown herbs and fruits sourced fresh from growers and wild collectors across Manipur.
All the growers whom the brand works with are women and they also collaborate with women vendors who sell the herbs in the local markets. Also, the packaging of their products is biodegradable.
Buy their lemongrass ginger herbal tea here.
A food-based company founded by Ralph Budelman in 2010, Zizira is an e-commerce venture that runs with a “profit with a purpose” motive.
Ralph Budelman, an entrepreneur who visited Shillong in 2004 for the first time, was impressed by the untapped potential of Meghalaya’s bounty but noticed that the farmers couldn’t leverage it fully. So, he set up an enterprise to provide opportunities and markets for the farmers of Meghalaya to sell their produce.
Zizira collaborates directly with farmers from across the state to source raw materials by paying them a fair price. After sourcing, they process the fresh ingredients into value-added products bringing them directly into the market. The brand offers a wide range of products such as coffee, tea blends, herbs, spices, honey, lakadong turmeric and so on.
Buy their lakadong turmeric powder here.
Founded by Mudita Akoijam Singh, a Delhi-based entrepreneur, For8 started by selling healthy indigenous black rice from Manipur.
Mudita noticed that the black rice, known for its rich antioxidant properties, was mostly imported to India from different parts of Southeast Asia while it was widely grown in Thoubal, her paternal hometown in Manipur.
Thus understanding the market gap she started For8 which is also an effort toward empowering farmers from across the state with the help of NGO partners, Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs) and women’s Self Help Groups.
Currently, other than the black rice, they also sell Himalayan red rice and a few other vegan products like shampoos and conditioners.
Buy their Himalayan red rice here.
The Tea Leaf Theory (TTLT) an Assam-based tea company run by two friends — Upamanyu Borkakoty and his friend Anshuman Bharali — creates biodegradable tea bags out of leaves under their startup ‘Wooláh’.
Noticing that the teabags that we usually use are equally harmful to the health and environment, the young entrepreneurs came up with the idea of Truedips.
The bag is nothing but two compressed leaves and a bud (unopened leaf at the tip of a branch), tied with a raw and naturally grown cotton string making it unique as well as rendering top-quality flavours and aroma.
Buy the Wooláh rare Assam green tea here.
7. Secrets Cosmetics
Inspired by her grandmother’s traditional methods, Tuingam Louzhi from Manipur started selling natural and eco-friendly skincare products under the brand name Secrets Cosmetics.
Launched in 2019, the beauty and skincare brand based out of Ukhrul, Manipur offers a wide range of products including facial and body creams, oils, lip balms and so on.
However the perilla seeds face oil launched in 2020, is one of their highlights as it was inspired by Lauzhi’s old family practices. Soon it turned out to be their best-selling product.
Buy their products here.
8. Zogam bamboo
One of the unique brands from northeast India, Zogam specialises in products made out of bamboo.
Founded by V Ginkhanpau and his friend Golan Suanzamung Naulak from Manipur, Zogam Bamboo Works (ZBW) is an eco-friendly handicraft venture.
They make several exquisite and utilitarian products using bamboo such as bamboo pens, water bottles, tiffin boxes and so on. They also make beautiful decorative pieces out of bamboo as well.
Buy their products here.
9. Runway Nagaland
Nengneithem Hengna from Dimapur started a store in 2011 as an effort to create a platform for the local artisans to sell or market their products outside Nagaland.
Though she faced several challenges as a woman entrepreneur in a conservative society, she was brave enough to leave her well-paying job to venture into full-time entrepreneurship. Later in 2012, she founded Runway Nagaland — a platform that sells handmade indigenous crafts, thereby empowering the local artisans.
They showcase an elegant collection of Nagaland’s tribal jewellery, premium contemporary pieces and also other hand-woven crafts by working with hundreds of weavers and artisan clusters across the state by offering a fair price.
Buy their products here.
10. Angry Mother Soap Co
Akitoli Suu embraced a natural and sustainable lifestyle in 2012 and returned back home to Nagaland after spending several years in the US and UK for studies and work.
While she got involved in her family business, she noticed that most of the soaps available in the market are high in chemical content. Thus she started making soaps of her own at home and eventually established the brand – Angry Mother Soap Co.
Angry Mother Soap Co offer a wide variety of natural soaps made using ingredients like homegrown tomatoes, fresh cow’s milk, hemp, french red clay, and oats, among others. They also make other products like shampoo bars, lip balms, perfumes, hair oils and more.
Buy their products here.
Edited by Yoshita Rao
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