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Hidden Gems: Meet Divya Yoder of Original Elderberry Co

Today we’d like to introduce you to Divya Yoder.

Hi Divya, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
I am a lover of and advocate for all-natural products. As a mother to two young boys, I wanted a natural health product to help cure common ailments but was unable to find one locally that was palatable and effective in boosting immunity. I was already disheartened by the general overuse of antibiotics in this country and became further wearied by the prevalence of artificial and impure products on the market. After doing my own research, I decided to challenge myself by creating my own recipe to have a real hand in providing a healthy remedy for my family. Leaning heavily on the ancient and time-tested medicinal remedies from my native India, I created a salubrious blend using pure ingredients, such as Ceylon cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and local raw honey. In addition to being powerfully curative, both of my boys love the taste of our elderberry products. Now, not only have these products made a huge impact on our entire family but our local community as well.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Starting a business is always challenging, regardless of your intentions and knowledge of the market. I started the Original Elderberry Company because I wanted to share these products with my local community and because I wanted the personal challenge of building something from the ground up. The biggest obstacle so far was the emergence of COVID-19, which effectually caused our products to skyrocket. At first, the business struggled to maintain any inventory at all, and the increase in the cost of elderberries significantly altered prior working capital levels. It was definitely a learning experience, and I have since become a member of the Elderberry Trade Association – I am grateful to have the additional knowledge and support from our counterparts all over the country. Even though this business has had its challenges. I’m happy to say that, overall, it has been a smooth, upward trajectory.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about Original Elderberry Co?
The Original Elderberry Co. brand focuses on all-natural, organic products targeted to boost the immune system. Each ingredient is selected intentionally for its benefits, including anti-inflammatory properties, antioxidants and vitamins, and much more. Original Elderberry Co. prides itself on not using any artificial sweeteners or refined sugars, like other similar products in the market – our Elderberry Syrup contains local, raw honey, which not only deliciously sweetens but helps fight allergies as well. And it’s only 3 grams of sugar per tablespoon! The health of our customers is what we care about, which is why each and every ingredient is chosen with such care. Not only has our Syrup been tested and nutritional facts acquired, but we have streamlined our production process to ensure that every single one of our products meets all safety measures and standards. This change to our process has definitely improved efficiency so that we are able to meet the needs of our customers.

In addition to our Elderberry Syrup, we also carry Elderberry ON.THE.GO. This is a concentrated version of our Syrup that’s a convenient way for our customers to never miss out on the benefits of elderberry. This product does not have to be refrigerated and is good for all ages above six months, whereas our Syrup is good for those over a year old. We’re just excited and happy that we can offer different products for every person’s needs!

What were you like growing up?
When I reflect on my childhood, there are so many thoughts and feelings and I am excited to share my journey. I was born in the United Kingdom and moved to the United States at a very young age. My parents started their own business after arriving and were truly living out the American Dream for a time. However, not too long after that, their business venture failed, and that quickly changed our immigration status – having the threat of being forced out of the only country you’ve ever know is a different level of worry that I would never wish on anyone. It really does affect the decisions you make and the freedoms you allow yourself. After witnessing my parents’ trials and tribulations, it really shaped who I am as an individual at a young age.

I started working at the age of 14, already planning for retirement! In addition to working and going to school, I also played tennis. In high school, I played varsity tennis and badminton while always on the Dean’s List. Because of my upbringing, I have always been focused and determined. Anything that I become focused on became the center of my universe. With everything happening with our immigration status, my family decided it was time to call it quits and move back to England. My brother and I begged our parents to stay – “We won’t be able to handle the cold!” “We have many friends here; this is the only country we have ever known!” My parents sacrificed everything for us. My brother and I prevailed and convinced my parents to stay. We had sold everything at this point, our home, furniture and so much more. We then moved into an apartment in North Scottsdale and I was about to start my Freshman year at Desert Mountain High School. I went in having only one friend. I was quite the nerd in High School, ate lunch in the hallways with my friends or in Mrs. Walther’s Spanish classroom. Outside of education, I played varsity tennis and badminton and one year made it all the way to State!

After high school, I attended ASU with the intent of moving back to England after graduation. I worked at a dry cleaner’s part-time and commuted to campus three times a week. During my time at ASU, I joined the Institute of Supply Management (ISM), where I met the CFO of Knight Transportation. He handed me his business card and I thought “this is my internship!” After exchanging many emails, I was invited for an interview. I was offered the job on the spot! I was ecstatic and jumped and danced as soon as I left the building. The next day I received the call, “we cannot hire you because of your immigration status.” I was devastated, crushed – I knew my only option was to leave the country. Then a wise man, my Dad, suggested I start my own consulting firm and become a contractor with the company. I pitched them the idea and they said “yes!” They then sponsored me, allowing me to work in the United States. Fortunately, I met my husband in 2010, where we quickly fell in love and got married within nine months and became a citizen three years later. Even today, I remain both focused and determined, still making everything I am focused on the center of my universe – with some balance, of course!

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Image Credits
Chanelle Sinclair

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