Child’s Food Allergies Prompt VISTA Millennial Superstar to Create Allergen-Free Spice Line in West Chester

Image via Cielito Vivas.
The Darby-Wong family.

They say necessity is the mother of invention.

Eight years ago on Thanksgiving, Tashelle Darby-Wong’s eight-month-old son, Kai, experienced a severe food allergy reaction and was rushed to the hospital. Soon after, his diagnosis of serious allergies to the top eight food categories forever changed her family’s lifestyle and the way they interacted with food. No longer could Kai eat the flavorful dishes Darby-Wong typically served that were inspired by her Indian and Jamaican heritage.  

Compelled not to let a limited diet restrict flavor for her son, Darby-Wong, a member of the 2021 Class of VISTA Millennial Superstars, began to research food allergies and alternatives. She reconnected with her cultural roots, drawing on her grandmother’s methods of preparing traditional Indian meals with fresh ingredients and fresh-roasted, ground spices to create her own spice blends.

IrieVeda spices. Image via Niki Cutchall.

After years of development, in April 2022, she launched IrieVeda, a line of handcrafted spices that are rich in flavor, free of allergens, and helpful in managing inflammation and aiding digestion.

“My goal was to make mindful spice blends that are safe, flavorful, and worry-free,” said Darby-Wong.  

Blended in an allergen-free facility in West Chester, IrieVeda spices and blends are available at

The ingredients are organic, high-quality, fair-trade spices, blended using traditional methods such as artisanal, small-batch roasting to enhance the natural flavors.

“Spices aren’t harvested or picked until the order is placed, and we try to source our herbs from local farms,” she said.  

Darby-Wong is an award recipient of the Chester County Economic Development Council’s New Business Champions program that prioritizes underrepresented businesses. The program, partially funded by the Chester County Workforce Development Board, provides free services to help emerging businesses, including a comprehensive business-needs assessment and one-on-one work with qualified experts from a wide range of industries.

“I coined the name from the Jamaican word ‘positive’ (Irie) and the Indian word for ‘knowledge’ (Veda) because I think it’s important for people to connect with and understand the food they eat,” said Darby-Wong. “I encourage people to practice ‘Yoga in the Kitchen’ to be mindful of who we are, where we are, what we eat, and how it makes us feel.”

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