Storytelling Weekly – #024 Burlap & Barrel

I love cooking.

There’s something relaxing (and romantic) about cooking a mouth-watering meal for the people I love.

But when it comes to cooking, I have one rule:

I never cook the same meal two days in a row.


How do you create two completely different dishes using the same frozen boneless chicken thigh from Costco?

Ans: Use different spices.

And that’s why I want to share with you – 

Burlap & Barrel, a spice company that excels at storytelling.

Recap of Storytelling Weekly

Before diving in, here’s a quick recap for newcomers just tuning in to my One Story A Week Series. 

  • Once a week, I’ll find an interesting brand to study.
  • I’ll break down what I like about their storytelling techniques.
  • Then, I’ll show you how to utilize these techniques in email.
Full Disclaimer

I don’t have any insider info or access to their account. So, I’m writing based on studying their website, interviews, and emails. However, I don’t have proof of earning claims or results of specific campaigns.

Now, there won’t be any “hard selling” in this series, but – 

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Brand Introduction

Ecommerce Email Marketing - Burlap & Barrel Logo

Ethan and Ori launched Burlap & Barrel in 2016.

Their mission: better, equitable supply chains in the spice trade.

According to their website:

“The initial idea for Burlap & Barrel came about when Ethan was living and working for a non-profit in Afghanistan, and started bringing Wild Mountain Cumin home to share with friends in the restaurant industry. They loved the cumin, and the people who harvest it in the mountains of Badakhshan loved the idea of having direct access to a new, high-value market in the US.”

Burlap & Barrel FAQs

Fast forward to today…

Burlap & Barrel is a $5M spice company with raving fans worldwide.

The question we should all be asking is:

“How did Burlap & Barrel attract so many raving fans?”

Storytelling Tactics

One key driving force for Burlap & Barrel’s success is their ability to tell interesting stories – especially in their emails. 

I LOVE their emails.

Here’s an example:

Ecommerce Email Marketing - Burlap & Barrel Newsletter

(I highly recommend subscribing to Burlap & Barrel newsletter to find out more)

In this newsletter, they introduced one spice (one product) – Brand New Anatolian Sage.

But instead of hammering the reader with yet another discount flash sale… the newsletter leads with information about harvesting that particular spice.

It’s no longer just a spice at the supermarket. 

It’s a rare produce found only in a small town in northern Turkey. 

Then, the newsletter goes on in detail about:

  • why (& how) they found the spice…
  • how does the spice taste like, in vivid word painting
  • how can you use it for your cooking
  • how can you get hold of this spice

After reading these stories…

How can you buy another commodity sage from your local grocery store?

You can’t.

You buy Burlap & Barrel.

(Burlap & Barrel follow the same format to introduce each of their spice)

Email Tip of The Week

The origin story is one of my favorite techniques when it comes to email storytelling. (it’s also one of the biggest advantages for e-commerce brands)

Every product has its own story:

  • Why was it made?
  • How was it made?
  • What’s different?
  • How can you get the most out of it?
  • (and why can you ONLY get it from us)

The beauty of an origin story is that…

It makes people care.

The more people know about your product (& brand), the more they’ll…

Share the stories at the dining table.

Share pictures and videos on social media.

(this is why Burlap & Barrel has so much user-generated content online)

Come back to buy from you again and again.

(This is the same marketing strategy that created the March Madness, a 1 BILLION dollar three-week tournament)


This week’s strategy is super easy to implement.

So, I challenge you to give it a try RIGHT NOW:

1 – Start with one product.

2 – Write one email sharing the origin story of that product.

3 – Send it to your list.

4 – Rinse and repeat every week.

And watch your fan size grow.

(Hate writing? this might help)