Spice up gift giving at the Terra Americana showroom

Aaron Clayton and Kenny Lombardini package blended spices which are big sellers at Terra Americana on Southampton Road in Westfield.
Reminder Publications photo by Lori Szepelak
By Lori Szepelak


WESTFIELD For a step back in time, a visit to Julie Cecchini's Terra Americana showroom will transport visitors back to their childhood, and will provide a feast for the senses with items for the kitchen, bath and garden.

Since 1994, Cecchini's showroom has been located at 382 Southampton Rd. and has limited hours since the bulk of her business is wholesale. The delightful showroom is sectioned off by category and uses as its props a variety of appliances that we all grew up using, including an old white Hotpoint refrigerator and Maytag washing machine.

In addition to the intricate displays, her product tags are all beautifully designed and displayed. Terra Americana products can also be purchased at Yankee Candle, the Gift Shops at Bradley Airport and Old Sturbridge Village.

Cecchini, a resident of Southwick, has also collaborated with restaurants over the years, including Tuckers in Southwick, to package favorite recipes.

Sales were down slightly due to the economic slowdown in 2008; however, Cecchini is optimistic that 2009 will include growth in selling to marketing companies through the Internet.

"Because we have such a wide range of products, over 700, and can customize both the labeling and packaging, this is an ideal niche for us," Cecchini said during a tour of her showroom.

Cecchini is talented and her creativity comes through as one walks among the spice and dip kits, "Beary Nice" drink mixes, cake kits and rations, gourmet mixes and spice blends, "survival kits," and packages of "Fido's Favorites" and "Feline's Feast." There is also a section of "immediate gratification" snack mixes and simply soup mixes -- all packaged in decorative containers that also make ideal gifts. She also recently introduced a gluten-free line of products that are all natural.

"I love to conceptualize a product and then make it happen," she added.

Whether it is a company seeking to have products branded or a future bride seeking favors for her shower guests, Cecchini can adapt her product line to fit everyone's budget. She has exported private label spice selections to Holland for Fidelity and provided giveaways for movie premieres, including Will Ferrell's film, "Stranger Than Fiction."

This past fall, a soon-to-be bride needed a fast turnaround for shower gifts and Cecchini came up with an idea of "A Taste of India" packets of spices for Lemon Ginger Chicken Tikka and Vindaloo Vegetables. The decorative packaging included the spice packets listing all the ingredients, and recipes that would complement the seasonings. Cecchini also infused whimsical comments with each of her spice packets. For her Vindaloo spice blend, she notes it's a hot and spicy blend with an Indian flare, and recommends one try it with goat or duck if they are adventurous. She completed the packet with a bit of history about the origins of each recipe.

"Owning a business is hard work and it is difficult to keep your mind fresh," she said, noting that the students she hires part-time are "constantly opening my eyes to changes in technology and giving me a fresh perspective."

Cecchini's raw ingredients for her spice blends are sourced from all over the world.

"If there is an option, I always choose the domestic product," she said. "We require that the herbs and spices are nonirradiated, which plays a factor in what we choose."

Cecchini noted the flexibility she has and the skill at customization provides a unique niche within the gift and gourmet industries.

"Our minimums are low and turnaround is quick," she said. "Whether the order is 25 units or 2,500, we can fulfill it competently and on schedule."

Cecchini also offers a "botanical essentials" line that includes products for the feet, body, hands and face.

"The botanicals are very strong in the spring and summer," Cecchini said. "The decision to add that to our line of products has been important in keeping us busy year round."

For area residents seeking locally made specialty foods and botanical essentials, a visit to Cecchini's showroom should be on one's to-do list. For more information on showroom hours, Cecchini's current product line and a wealth of intriguing recipes, visit www.terra-americana.com. Cecchini can also be reached weekdays at 562-2042.

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