Priya Osuri was born in India and moved to the United States as a teenager. She remembers how tough it was to assimilate, trying to be like everyone around her to fit in.
Not until she was older did Priya appreciate her blended background of an Indian upbringing and American outlook on life. Years later, she would pay homage to that cultural duality by founding Anar Gourmet Foods.
“That’s how I perceive my spices. It’s the best of both worlds,” Osuri says.
Osuri left a nearly 20-year career in medical diagnostics sales and marketing to start the business with her husband, Glenn, in 2016. The couple resides near Pittsburgh, Pa., with their son, Rana — the company’s namesake (reverse his name to get Anar).
Anar Gourmet caters to those who love authentic and fusion Indian food, but don’t know how to reproduce the flavors. Using her grandmother’s secret curry powder blend and mother’s South Indian recipes — combined with a knack for tailoring Indian spices to western ingredients — she crafts all-natural, gluten-free seasoning kits.
She started using Seguno Email Marketing to share the joy of blending cultures. That was a few months before the pandemic surfaced in 2020.
It was a move that would ultimately keep her business alive.
Osuri explains why, and talks about her email marketing journey with Seguno, in the following Q&A.
What attracted you to Seguno?
I’m a bit of a geek. I guess that’s part of my scientific background. Typically, when I spend more than $100 or more on anything, I research the heck out of it to see if this is really what I want. So I researched a whole bunch of email apps for at least 15 to 20 hours. I loved the easy plug-and-play format of Seguno. I could pull in pictures and customize the content to fit my needs and give my customers a personalized experience.
Seguno helps you send out a newsletter, using a template, in just five to 10 minutes. However, if you're like me, it will probably take a couple of hours because I like to think things through when sending anything to customers. It’s my marketing background that kicks in, but I feel that's OK. In the end, I want to make sure it's a good experience.
I attend a lot of Seguno’s seminars and listen to Kestrel’s videos all of the time. She just makes sending emails so simple. In fact, I wasn't doing campaigns until she taught me how to do it.
Seguno’s pricing is so reasonable, too. I watch every penny I spend. I recently took a course about the things you can do to cut out expenses and there is nothing I can cut out. So what I have, I value, and I make sure that I utilize them to their maximum potential.
What’s the biggest thing Seguno has allowed you to do?
It allowed me to pivot during the pandemic. Before then, I was growing my business primarily through demos at retail, grocery and boutique stores. That was quite expensive, as I was cooking three dishes for each demo, every weekend, and paying for demo time. During that time, I was collecting emails from customers to keep them apprised of new recipes and products.
When the pandemic hit, I was not able to do demos anymore. I started focusing more on online sales, which has saved me a lot of time and money. I don’t have to spend money on demos, and can finally spend quality time with my family on weekends.
I’m a solopreneur, so I'm doing everything by myself. I’m working 60, 70 hours a week managing my business, making deliveries, managing social media, cooking new recipes, accounting, and more. Writing content for my bi-monthly newsletters is a top priority, so I needed something easy. Seguno’s templates are so easy. Seguno, as a resource, is just heaven sent to somebody like me.
Nowadays, I like my emails to be a little bit more personal, so I don't necessarily use the template. I feel there's a personal story I have to tell through my email newsletters, whether it's new recipes, talking about my background, what got me here, or our family's entrepreneurial journey.
How has your business benefited from email marketing?
When I first started, I had an 80/20 mix of revenue — 80% coming from retail and 20% from online. That mix actually has switched to almost 50/50.
Without hesitation, I would attribute 90% of that flip to online sales from emails. I'm small enough to know who my customers are and where they are coming from. When I see a name pop up, I know whether I've met them during my demos or through referrals. So when orders come through my online storefront, I know where I've gotten them from.
Orders come from all over the country. I’ve gotten orders from as far as California, a lot from the Midwest, such as Arkansas and Missouri. Sometimes, I'm not quite sure how they heard of me but it’s always interesting to see the states where orders are coming from.
Is there another app you recommend using with Seguno?
Judge.me product reviews. People shop by reviews in lieu of tastings. Referrals are a powerful way to spread the word.
What type of email program works for your brand?
I'm careful about what I send to my customers. I tailor my email newsletters to represent my personality. I feel there's plenty of business in the world, so I try not to be too pushy. It’s a fine balance. You want to remind your customers about your products, but also not be too spammy about it.
I find Friday is ideal for my email marketing promotions. That's when people purchase food for the weekend and following week. I try to send the email by 11 a.m. on Friday, or at the latest 5 p.m. I usually start getting orders then, and it rolls into Saturday mornings. I love hearing the cash register “ding” on my phone, alerting me to an order.
I also use Seguno’s automated re-mail feature. I send a re-mail three, four days later, when I know people are back in the office.
I try not to do too many promotions or specials for my products because I feel people value my spices without them. Instead, I repurpose content from my website, including blogs and recipes. For example, today I’m featuring a recipe for a type of Indian street food — Aloo Tikki (potato patty). I frame the recipe as a dish they can make by using ingredients right from their own pantry. They don't necessarily have to use my spices. It's that added value I’m giving my subscribers.