10 Small Businesses in North East India to Support and Order

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OWhether it is food or handicrafts, clothing or decoration, North East India has always brought 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 is a list of some of the best brands in the North East that you must try:

1. Smoky Falls Tribe Cafe

Smoky Falls Tribe Cafe

Launched in 2015 by Dasumarlin Majaw of Shillong, 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 enjoyed drinking the indigenous coffee traditionally brewed by his grandmother during his childhood. This inspired her to explore the world of coffee and eventually created a brand that offers locally grown, freshly roasted coffee in different bean strength (fine or coarse) and roast (light, medium and dark) profiles.
Furthermore, through her business venture, she empowers more than 300 farmers across Meghalaya by sourcing tons of coffee every year.

Buy their dark roast coffee here.

2. Meira Foods

Meira Foods Products
Salted Amla by Meira Foods.

Meira Foods, a small food business was started in 2004 by Hanjabam Shubhra Devi of Bamon Leikai in Imphal East, Manipur.

While leading a non-profit organization called Action for Community Transformation Manipur (ACT-M), Shubhra Devi worked with several MSMEs (Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises) in skills development and training. But since she found no satisfaction in her job, the food and nutrition graduate started her own business.

Starting out small with just three women, Meira Foods offers a variety of pickles, candies, savory dried fruits, and more, using wild fruits and vegetables grown locally in the region.

In addition, the company directly employs more than 70 women from economically disadvantaged families.

Buy their Royal Chili Soy Pickle here.

3. Inhabitant’s Tea

Lemongrass Ginger Tea by Dweller's
Lemongrass Ginger Tea by Dweller’s.

Dweller’s tea is an Imphal-based tea brand founded by Elizabeth Yamben, who quit her well-paying job in Singapore to go into the tea business. Launched in 2017, the brand offers organic and wholesome tea varieties made from locally grown herbs and fruits sourced from wild growers and gatherers in Manipur.

All of the growers the brand works with are women, and they also work with vendors who sell the herbs in local markets. In addition, the packaging of their products is biodegradable.

Buy their ginger lemongrass herbal tea here.

4. Zizira

Zizira Lakadong Turmeric Powder.
Zizira Lakadong Turmeric Powder.

A food company founded by Ralph Budelman in 2010, Zizira is an e-commerce business that operates on a “profit with a purpose” motive.

Ralph Budelman, an entrepreneur who first visited Shillong in 2004, was impressed by the untapped potential of Meghalaya’s bounty, but noticed that farmers could not take full advantage of it. So he started a business to provide opportunities and markets for farmers in Meghalaya to sell their products.

Zizira works directly with farmers across the state to source raw materials by paying them a fair price. After sourcing, they transform the fresh ingredients into value-added products that bring them directly to market. The brand offers a wide range of products such as coffee, tea blends, herbs, spices, honey, lakadong turmeric, etc.

Buy their lakadong turmeric powder here.

5. For8

Himalayan Red Rice by For8.
Himalayan Red Rice by For8.

Founded by Delhi-based entrepreneur Mudita Akoijam Singh, For8 began by selling healthy native black rice from Manipur.

Mudita noticed that black rice, known for its rich antioxidant properties, was mainly imported into India from different parts of Southeast Asia while it was widely grown in Thoubal, his paternal hometown in Manipur.

Understanding the market gap, she started For8, which also aims to empower farmers across the state with the help of partner NGOs, farmer organizations (FPOs), and self-help groups from women.

Currently, besides black rice, they also sell Himalayan red rice and a few other vegan products like shampoos and conditioners.

Buy their Himalayan Red Rice here.

6. True Dips

Truedips Biodegradable Tea Bags by Woolah
Woolah Truedips biodegradable tea bags.

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 from leaves as part of their startup “Wooláh”.

Realizing that the tea bags we usually use are just as harmful to health as they are to the 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 end of a branch), tied with a string of raw and naturally grown cotton, which makes it unique and restores flavors and premium flavors.

Buy Wooláh’s rare Assam green tea here.

7. Secret Cosmetics

Secret Cosmetics Perilla Seed Oil
Perilla Seed Oil by Secret Cosmetics.

Inspired by her grandmother’s traditional methods, Tuingam Louzhi from Manipur started selling natural and eco-friendly skincare products under the Secrets Cosmetics brand.

Launched in 2019, the Ukhrul-based beauty and skincare brand Manipur offers a wide range of products including face and body creams, oils, lip balms, and more.

However, the perilla seed face oil launched in 2020 is one of their highlights as it is inspired by old Lauzhi family practices. Soon it turned out to be their top selling product.

Buy their products here.

8. Bamboo Zogam

Bamboo tiffin box
Zogam Bamboo Works Bamboo Tiffin Box

One of the unique brands in North East India, Zogam specializes in bamboo products.

Founded by V Ginkhanpau and his friend Golan Suanzamung Naulak from Manipur, Zogam Bamboo Works (ZBW) is an eco-friendly craft company.

They manufacture several exquisite and utilitarian bamboo products such as bamboo pens, water bottles, tiffin boxes, etc. They also make beautiful decorative bamboo pieces.

Buy their products here.

9. Nagaland Trail

Traditional Jewelry by Runway Nagaland
Traditional jewelry by Runway Nagaland.

Nengneithem Hengna of Dimapur opened a store in 2011 with the aim of creating a platform for local artisans to sell or market their products outside of Nagaland.

Although she faced several challenges as a female entrepreneur in a conservative society, she was brave enough to quit her high-paying job to pursue full-time entrepreneurship. Later in 2012, she founded Runway Nagaland – a platform that sells indigenous handmade crafts, empowering local artisans.

They showcase an elegant collection of Nagaland tribal jewelry, high-end contemporary pieces as well as other handwoven crafts by working with hundreds of weavers and artisan groups across the state by offering a prize fair.

Buy their products here.

10. Angry Mother Soap Co

Soaps by Angry Mother and Co
Soaps by Angry Mother and Co.

Akitoli Suu embraced a natural and sustainable lifestyle in 2012 and returned home to Nagaland after spending several years in the US and UK for study and work.

As she got involved in her family business, she noticed that most of the soaps available on the market had a high content of chemicals. So, she started making her own soaps at home and eventually created the brand – Angry Mother Soap Co.

Angry Mother Soap Co offers a wide variety of natural soaps made from ingredients such as home-grown 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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