Megan Scott rubs a pork butt with a mixture of paprika and sea salt, while her mother, Terry Bell, experiments with fresh herbs from her garden in grilled dishes and sauces. That’s pretty much a typical Thursday for the foodies, who own The Spice & Tea Exchange in Duck.
Since opening the franchise last February, the mother-daughter spends their day creating custom spice blends, talking recipes with customers and teaching people how to make the perfect cup of Japanese matcha — and they love it.
Before opening the shop — which offers an exclusive selection of spices, custom blends, loose-leaf teas, naturally-flavored sugars, sea and mineral salts, gourmet gifts and accessories — Scott managed a maintenance department, and Bell retired from a 20-year career as a special education teacher to help run her husband’s construction business.
But after visiting a Spice & Tea Exchange franchise in Asheville, North Carolina, the dynamic duo decided to join forces and open a franchise of their own.
“I‘d never been in a shop like that before,” Bell says of the Asheville location. “It’s a sensory experience. The first thing that hits you is the smell of tea and spices when you walk in the door, and that’s always nice. I just felt really comfortable, like this is where I belonged.”
It was a gutsy business move, but one that has paid off, and Bell and Scott are enjoying it immensely.
“You get so caught up talking to people like, ‘Oh, my gosh, how are you going to use that?’ Or ‘You should try it like this.’ You get to hear all of their stories and what kind of food that they like to eat and cook. It’s just a good time,” Scott says.
The women, who relocated as a family from Northern Virginia 12 years ago, say they were inspired by the entrepreneurial spirit of other Outer Banks residents and were buoyed by the success and support of so many local businesses.
“It was a great opportunity, and I don’t know that we would have had the guts to do it in Virginia,” Scott says.
“I would have been intimidated, but here, it’s felt like, ‘yes, we can do it,’ and we can do it as a team.”