We had the good fortune of connecting with Seril James and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Seril, can you share the most important lesson you’ve learned over the course of your career?
To never give up! Ever! When the idea to start Seril’s Chakka Chips came about, there were so many parts of starting a CPG company that I had zero experience with. I felt completely overwhelmed and said, “I can’t do this…”. What I realized very quickly in this journey was to take that unknown variable and make it known. Any aspect of the business that I needed answers to, I would research the hell out of it, ask other entrepreneurs/business owners for advice and then I would jump into action. What happened next… well the answers ultimately revealed themselves and I was more informed and better prepared to handle that particular issue when it comes around again. When you push yourself through those challenging moments, to get closer to your goals, it gives you an amazing sense of accomplishment.
What should our readers know about your business?
Seril’s Chakka Chips was the first jackfruit chip brand to launch in the mainstream US market. These chips were inspired by my grandmother’s jackfruit chips she would make homemade and send to us from India. Food is our family’s love language and this is one way I was able to keep the heartbeat of my heritage going. In our first year, we were thrilled to receive our first piece of press from The New York Times! It was a huge moment for a small company starting out. Since then, we have been steadily growing the business. We are proudly sold at all the Erewhon Market locations in the LA area, in addition to Grassroots in Pasadena, and Nature’s Health in Palm Springs, just to name a few. Our newest account is the iconic Zabar’s on the Upper West Side of NYC.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Any time a friend visits town, I love showing them the diversity of LA’s landscape. To start, we are definitely headed downtown. I love to check out the latest exhibits at the Broad museum and then dinner at Redbird after. If its more casual, then we’ll be on the line up at KazuNori for those delicious hand rolls. Next up is Silverlake/Los Feliz for a good hike up to Griffith Observatory to burn those calories and take in the views. I love a good Thai Town moment, so I’d take my friend to eat spicy authentic Thai food at Jitlada. Of course visitors want to visit Beverly Hills, so I’ll take them down there to see Rodeo Drive and all the shopping. I worked in BH for many years, and the one place that I alway loved to lunch at is South Beverly Grill. I have so many fond memories of breaking bread with co-workers and friends. I always end up the visit in Malibu. The drive up from Santa Monica is just stunning on a beautiful sunny day. If we are beaching it, then I’ll stop at Malibu Seafood to pick up some delicious seafood, and if we are going upscale, I always love to eat Nobu Malibu. It’s the perfect mix for delicious food, ocean views and people watching. One note to mention, as I’m a foodie, I definitely would have taken my guest to several different tacos spots around LA. There are too many to mention! The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I absolutely need to dedicate the shoutout to my parents. Kurian and Leela James have held me up! Not only with the start of this business but their support and encouragement has helped me through my entire life. My parents were immigrants from India, who came to the US in the 1970’s. They landed in NYC and built a career for themselves while raising a family. They worked hard their entire lives to give me and my brother a wonderful life and every opportunity to succeed. I’m forever grateful.