Veteran-Owned Business Partners with FAS to Export its Spices Around the World

  |   Feature
Husband and wife, veteran- and woman-business owners David and Laura Andersland pose behind a table of spices at a trade show.
Husband and wife, veteran- and woman-business owners David and Laura Andersland pose behind a table of spices at a trade show.

Retirement – for many – is a time for reconnecting with what you love and who you love. Laura Andersland and David Andersland have spiced up retirement with their seasoning business, Salty Wahine Gourmet Hawaiian Sea Salts. 

A seasonings business was a natural decision for Laura Andersland – she began making sea salts at the age of 11 with her Hawaiian-born grandmother, and later gained experience in the finance world that would make opening the business an easy transition. For David Andersland, he retired from the U.S. Navy as a surface warfare officer and a supervisor for the pacific missile range facility marine department. David’s leadership skills and global expertise he gained in the Navy now play an integral role in coordinating Salty Wahine’s international business plans and export sales. 

People around the world can taste the eruption of flavor that is Kaua’i Island from Salty Wahine exporting its handmade, gourmet sea salts, including Hot Lava, Island Volcano, or Passion Fruit Chili Pepper. Salty Wahine uses the Foreign Agricultural Service’s (FAS) Market Access Program (MAP) funding to enter and grow international sales of its luxury commodity, gourmet sea salts. MAP funds allow American small-business owners expand its exports and open new markets in other countries. 

Salty Wahine is a seasoned exporter – winning Hawaii’s Small Business Administration’s Exporter of the Year award in 2012 and 2017. Since Salty Wahine began exporting, “we quadrupled our staff,” according to Laura Andersland. Growing exports allowed Salty Wahine to create new jobs. 

Furthermore, David Andersland’s diverse career in the Navy helped prepare him for collaborating with foreign partners and the worldwide travel that are crucial to running an international business. “Doing contracting and recruiting with a lot of public speaking equipped me to be ready with an elevator pitch all the time,” said David Andersland. The Navy veteran knows how to market to some of the different foreign partners based on his previous experiences being in that country during his service. 

“The market is unlimited because everyone uses salt,” David Andersland told FAS when asked about what Salty Wahine is looking forward to during the next five years. They are growing back its export opportunities as they look to reconnect with its pre-Covid customers. Recently, Salty Wahine was in Japan learning about packaging requirements. Japan has been one of Salty Wahine’s steady partners, and the small, family-owned business is a regular participant in Japan’s International Food Shows. 

Salty Wahine feels like there are sweet things in store for its growing international business. Laura Andersland is prepping her son and daughter-in-law, Sean, and Jessika to take over the family business someday – continuing their devotion to serving the community and service members around the world. 

The Navy Exchange in Pearl Harbor and the commissaries are the cheapest place to get Salty Wahine’s seasoning products, “because that’s one of our ways of giving back,” said Laura Andersland. And during the holidays, Salty Wahine sends care-packages to different Army and Fleet Post Offices across the world to share its appreciation and spread cheer. 

FAS would like to celebrate David Andersland and Salty Wahine, a woman- and veteran-owned business on this year’s Veterans Day. Salty Wahine is a military family and support current and former military personnel every day.