It all began at a house on the 68 block of Del Playa in 2011. The University of California, Santa Barbara students purchased huge bags of product from a domestic source and repackaged it in smaller bags and jars to sell to their friends.
What Carrisa Hayes, Tucker Garrison, and Philip Richardson were selling out of their house was certainly not the usual illicit substances of Isla Vista. Instead, the three sold nutrient-rich superfoods like spirulina and maca powder.
What began in a house a few years ago has transformed into a quickly-growing company that recently raised an incredible $66,082 on Kickstarter last month. Imla’kesh Organics sells artisan and organic superfoods sourced from all over Peru, including parts of the Amazon basin located 14,000 feet in the mountains. According to the company’s Kickstarter, “At Imlak’esh Organics we work to rebalance the global economy and ecosystem through supporting organic practices and beyond fair-trade development models.”
Three years ago, founder of Imla’kesh Tucker Garrison quit his job and put everything in his life on hold to go to South America.
“Through an incredible amount of serendipity and synchronicity, [I found] all of these suppliers, whether they’re family farms or cooperatives, companies, or people I would meet on the street or find in some amazing way,” said Garrison. “It became really clear around the winter solstice of last year that this is what we were supposed to be doing.” Accordingly, Garrison called up his friend Philip Richardson asking if he was interested in importing superfoods. Richardson said yes, and the seeds of Imla’kesh Organics were planted.
“Superfood means something different to everybody,” explains the company’s Kickstarter. Imla’kesh believes that superfoods are foods grown using stringent organic practices, foods with a high nutritional value and a long shelf life, and, most importantly, foods that are delicious.
Imla’kesh Organics is a very small company with an office located in Goleta. Imla’kesh Organics plans to use the funds raised by their Kickstarter to find a warehouse space to expand the company.
“I can guarantee there is no company the size we are that does what we do,” said Garrison.
Imla’kesh is committed to giving 5 percent of its profits back to ecosocial projects in Peru, such as rainforest and ecosystem preservation, trash and recycling programs, empowering indigenous cultures, and watershed health. Garrison is aware of the difficulties his company faces with importing organic superfoods from Peru.
“If you want to have the integrity of the sourcing we do, a direct connection to soils and farmers and highest quality freshest food, then that integrity comes with the responsibility and perils of dealing with international customs,” said Garrison.
One project Garrison and Richardson are particularly excited about is the cultivation of sacha inchi, also known as mountain peanut or Inca-peanut.
“Sacha inchi is a first succession plant necessary for the reforestation of the Amazon,” said Richardson. Imla’kesh plans to use sacha inchi in one of their new products, a mango and sacha inchi cluster.
Some of the company’s offerings include cacao powder, goji berries, and Chargebust Clusters. One of their biggest buyers is Luna and Larry’s Coconut Bliss, a dairy-free ice cream alternative. Imla’kesh is also developing a new vegan protein powder.
Imla’kesh Organics is a rapidly growing and thriving company, whose success the team largely accredits to the supportive Santa Barbara and Isla Vista community and to all of the people who have helped them out along the way.
“This is one of the only places where we can get where we have so quickly,” said Richardson.
Imlak’esh Organics can be found at the Isla Vista Co-op, Backyard Bowls, Juice Ranch, Yoga Soup, Isabella Gourmet Foods, or online at imlakeshorganics.com