Women’s History Month: Cleveland Chain Reaction winner Tina Chamoun on building her spice business and diversifying grocery shelves  

“There was a void in the American marketplace for authentic Lebanese flavors and food.”

Terranean Herbs & Spices founder Tina Chamoun hasn’t stopped working since winning top honors from Cleveland Chain Reaction in December. She has used her $40,000 funding to build a new conveyor belt, new packaging, expand her Amazon store, create a new data management system and “a long list of other things,” she enthused on a recent call. 

With this never-stop attitude and business acumen, it’s no surprise Chamoun impressed the Chain Reaction judges. It’s also no surprise that the company she founded in 2019, with the goal of specializing in the traditional Middle Eastern products and Lebanese za’atar wild thyme that she couldn’t find at area groceries, is growing at remarkable speed.

Decades ago, her family had to fill their suitcases with za’atar when they returned from Lebanon. Today, thanks in large part to Chamoun, Clevelanders can find these flavors at Giant Eagle, Heinen’s and numerous other online and local stores.

“I noticed there was a void in the American marketplace for authentic Lebanese flavors and food, like za’atar, especially at a time when consumers were open to different cultures and cuisines,” said Chamoun. “As more consumers care about diversity and trying new things, it was important for me to provide products that were authentic, premium and a true representation of my culture and heritage.”

Terranean is a true international effort. Chamoun sources spices from Lebanese farms for her local production facility, where her employees include many immigrants from Lebanon and Syria.

In honor of Women’s History Month, GCP recently sat down with this WBENC certified– business leader to catch up on Terranean’s growth, Cleveland as a place for entrepreneurship and supporting other women in business.

Can you share a bit about what made you launch Terranean? 

In 2015, I started a platform called Your Lebanon, and that’s where I really got involved with food and with teaching people about our culture. People are interested in Middle Eastern food and the Mediterranean diet, but I realized that when you went online and tried looking up these recipes in English,  you could find only find a couple of them. I started Your Lebanon to introduce people to Middle Eastern food in more accessible way.  

So  I decided, this is an opportunity to do something not only for Lebanon, because I’m doing business with people there, but an opportunity to create the products here and grow a team. 

And most importantly, a way to create a product and share it with American consumers.  

Za’atar is an integral part of our heritage and culture. It was just a really, really special way for me to continue sharing our cuisine and our culture. 

Do you have culinary training?  

I worked in marketing for Aladdin’s, that’s how I got my first exposure to the food business.  

What do you think is driving interest in Middle Eastern food in America? 

I think it’s health reasons, but I think people are being exposed to more things. They care more about inclusion and diversity.  When I would take my lunch to school,  I’d be kind of shy about it. Now I’m sending my daughter to school with Middle Eastern food and the kids around her know what it is.   

Is Cleveland a supportive place for entrepreneurship? 

My experience here has been wonderful from the very beginning. I had no business background, but the community was very supportive. When I reached out to a few people who did what I was doing, they immediately said, listen, “let’s grab coffee.” 

One of those people was like, “if you’re the one that keeps talking about this void in the marketplace, then maybe you’re the one that’s supposed to be doing it.”  As I grew, I began to realize that there were organizations that support woman-owned businesses. 

Do you feel there have been any particular barriers for you as a woman entrepreneur? 

Definitely, especially as a mother. In the beginning, anyone who starts a business, those first years you have to wear all the pants: the marketing, the product development, the researcher, the pitches, the accounting, all the hats you have to wear in addition to all your hats in your personal life. As a mom, it is a lot to juggle.  

Fortunately, there are resources. 

You’re involved with helping other women in business in many ways. 

It’s important to me to help other women who are starting businesses. I’m happy to have people contact me. It might be daunting at first, but there’s support out there. I recently did a panel with Jumpstart, and did mentoring with The Plain Dealer last year. There are people who have done it and are willing to share.  I was invited to the Women Business Enterprise National Council conference as a demonstrator in Nashville in March, one of only 36 people. I am a proud WBENC Certified Woman-Owned Business. 

I also work with a team of Lebanese and Syrian immigrants here, many women. It means a lot to me to be able to work with them.  

What’s next? 

I’m going to just keep expanding the product line.  I’m very excited I am going to be doing my first demo with a large distributor in Michigan, my first out-of-state pitch. 

This business is really important to me because I love America, and  I love seeing that people are enjoying za’atar now. I would have never imagined seeing it in the regular grocery store.  


In honor of Women’s History Month, Greater Cleveland Partnership is spotlighting Women-owned businesses, leaders, changemakers and events throughout March on our blog, website and social channels. We’d love your input. Email suggestions to 

Greater Cleveland Partnership’s All In vision for a Great Region on a Great Lake has five key priorities: Dynamic Business, Abundant Talent, Inclusive Opportunity, Appealing Community and Business Confidence. All of our work ties back to these values. This story relates to Dynamic Business. 


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