Dr. Hill and students
SC spice company aims to help charities

By Trevor Anderson
Spartanburg Herald-Journal
Published: Monday, February 9, 2015

Launch and Impact (Herald-Journal Photo)A family Christmas present project has morphed into a business opportunity for Wofford College sophomore Laura Roddey.
The 19-year-old Beaufort native is poised to take her venture, Sea Island Seasonings, an ecumenical spice company, one step further in March.

Sea Island Seasonings on Thursday was named one of eight student-led companies chosen for the finals of the third-annual Impact & Launch Competition facilitated by Wofford’s entrepreneurship program, The Space.

“I’m very excited,” said Roddey, a psychology major. “(Winning the competition) would definitely open a few doors. I’ve wanted to branch out, but haven’t had the means to do it.”

Roddey joined a large group of students on Thursday at The Space in the Mungo Center off Evins Street to watch a live feed of Jamarcus Gaston’s “Studio 62,” where the finalists were announced. Two more will be selected via online voting at the competition’s website through Feb. 12.

The 10 finalists — five nonprofits on the “impact” side, five businesses on the “launch” side — will compete in a pitch event on March 28 similar to television’s “Shark Tank.”

Contestants on each side are squaring off for their share of $10,000 in cash for their startups and $10,000 worth of in-kind services, such as legal and marketing assistance or office space.

The contest started out as an idea to celebrate what students were doing in The Space, an area on Wofford’s campus designed to support entrepreneurial ventures. Programs there are open to all students and all majors; students can apply while in high school. The program offers no class credit.

The Space is led by Scott Cochran, who serves as dean, and other staff members including Courtney Shelton, Jeremy Boeh, Jennifer Dillenger, Kelly French, Lisa Ware and Rebecca Parker.

“I’ve been very fortunate to come to The Space and see what it has to offer,” Roddey said. “A lot of credit is due (to the staff). They are great at building our confidence.”

Roddey said she will spend the coming weeks preparing for the competition. Her goal is to learn how to maximize the message about her company to provide for the greatest impact and to emotionally connect with the judges and the audience.
“I know I have a lot of hard work to do,” she said. “But I have a passion for this. I just have to show that.”

Roddey was only an underclassman in high school when she got into the gourmet spice business in 2011.

She and her brother, Thomas, a junior at Beaufort Academy and co-owner of the company, decided to make a rub they could give to friends and family as Christmas presents.

The response to their recipe was overwhelmingly positive, Roddey said. With the help of their parents, Tim and Emma, the brother-and-sister duo formed a company so they could sell their product to the public, with the caveat that 100 percent of their net profit be given to a charity of their choice.

Roddey chose the Little Red Dog Foundation, a nonprofit started by a neighbor in Beaufort that provides equipped therapeutic three-wheeled cycles to people who have mobility challenges.

Her brother chose HELP of Beaufort, an organization that provides emergency assistance to the people of Beaufort County and surrounding areas with specific basic needs. That includes donations of clothes, food, money, furniture and household items.
The owners have expanded that list to include Meals on Wheels, Wounded Warriors, Hope Center for Children and Prevent Child Abuse America.

“It has been so amazing to create a business and financially support these groups, which are so near and dear to our hearts,” Roddey said.

Sea Island Seasonings’ blend is a mix of a few basic spices proportioned in just the right way. Roddey said it’s great on meats, seafood or vegetables.

The product comes in a 10-ounce bottle for $5. It can be ordered online at the company’s website, seaislandseasonings.wix.com/seaislandseasonings. It is currently only sold at a store in Beaufort and a restaurant on Fripp Island.

Roddey said the company has shipped to customers all over the United States and even Canada.

“I hope we can continue to grow the business, and I hope it continues to benefit others,” Roddey said. “I would recommend to anyone with (an entrepreneurial dream) to just go for it.
“It’s scary, but exciting and exhilarating. You never know. The smallest ideas can have the biggest impact.”

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