MUSKEGON HEIGHTS, Mich. — Kaja Thorton-Hunter started Kaja's Flavor Packets not knowing her side-hustle would one day be sold in a major supermarket.
She combined her love for a southern crab boil, discovered while a student in Savannah, Georgia, and her love for giving back to her hometown in one gold package.
The spice seasoning blends can be used in a variety of different ways and come in three different flavors: Garlic Lemon Pepper, Cajun, and Spicy Cajun.
Starting Overcoming Barriers, a non-profit that helps house adults with disabilities, Kaja needed to make some money. So she turned her skill for soul food into a business, selling seafood by the plate out of her parents' garage.
“After each sale that would help our non-profit. Buy a new bed, a new dresser,” Thorton-Hunter said.
That was about ten years ago. The line was so long, she couldn't keep up with the demand for her cooking.
That's when she got her flavor packet idea.
"If I teach you how to do the crab boil, and package up the seasonings, you still have to come for me for that taste,” Kaja said.
Kaja's Flavor Packets was born.
After that, Kaja says things took off locally around her Muskegon Heights Community.
"Almost, city viral, you know?" Kaja said.
Then came a big call. Kaja secured a contract with Meijer, as part of their expansion program to better feature local Michigan BIPOC creators.
Her products will be made just off of Muskegon Community College's campus, at F.A.R.M., a "food incubator" that helps businesses like Kaja's get started.
Her seasoning will be sold in three Meijer stores this fall.
“Now we have our own manufacturing building,” Kaja said.
For Kaja, this is a message to everyone out there: if you can dream it, you can do it.
“That is a huge deal. Of course, we don’t take it lightly,” Kaja said.