For Dounne Alexander health and nature are synonymous. One cannot exist without the other. The UK resident, who is the founder of Gramma’s, a herbal food manufacturing business; Zara’s herbal tea and the Joining Hands in Health campaign, believes the cure to most, if not all, of man’s aliments can be found in nature. The Trini-born businesswoman, moreso, believes if the Caribbean were to maintain its virginal, lush vegetation and greenery then, within a few years, the region would be indispensable to larger countries like the UK. Alexander is on a natural mission. She wants the world to be awakened to the many health benefits that can be found right in the back yard. She calls herself a spiritual herbalist and who is also an author, motivational speaker and mother among others, has won ten national awards for her work; among them a 2012 award for her contribution to Trinidad and Tobago during the country’s 50th anniversary of Independence. She was also voted as one of the 50 most powerful black women in Britain. For all her success, Alexander has not forgotten her Caribbean roots which inspired her line of natural products which led to her success. In fact, her upbringing in T&T was the impetus for her famous Gramma’s Herbal Pepper Sauce, started in 1987. Her biography tells the story.
It reads: “In 1964, at 15, Dounne moved to Britain with her parents and siblings. After leaving secondary school at 17, she worked for more than 22 years as a bacteriological & chemical laboratory technician and a Housing Manager for a Housing Association. Married in 1971, had two daughters but to escape marital abuse, in 1986 she took up martial-arts and within six months took back complete control of her life and started a new life as a single-parent. This was the period of Britain’s emerging new enterprise culture and decided that the best way to secure herself and children’s future would be to start up her own business. As a full time working mother on a low income, who has managed to raise her children on nutritious, home-cooked meals—Dounne recognised that the nation was moving into a dangerously unhealthy-eating phase of artificial, processed, junk foods and ready-made meals ... encouraged by manufacturers, retailers and the government. Foreseeing the long term damage to present and future generations, she recognised a unique niche in the “speciality health-food market” and six months later, GRAMMA’S was born from the tiny kitchen of her flat. Without any formal business training, experience, qualifications, collateral or finance—Dounne personally created, designed, packaged and promoted Gramma’s Herbal Pepper Sauces. Within three months, she singlehandedly negotiated them into Britain’s most prestigious department stores Harrods and Fortnum & Mason.
By the end of that year, her sauces also took pride of place on the shelves of other department stores around the country including Selfridges, Harvey Nichols, Bentalls, Rackhams, Howells and Kendale Milne. In 1990 she eventually raised the finance required via the government’s Small Firms Loan Guarantee Scheme to establish her first factory.” Alexander said growing up in pollution free Trinidad, she never knew what it was like to be ill constantly. Her love for nature was undeniable as she outlined during the telephone interview with the T&T Guardian, the healing power of soursop in the fight against cancer and the medicinial value of pure charcoal. Alexander’s ultimate dream, for which she has already acquired the land in Erin (southern Trinidad), is to build a nature resort where people can come and receive natural treatment of all kinds, from acupuncture to some of her herbal tea. When Alexander visits Trinidad from October 19 to 24 she plans on educating the public on the power of these foods that are found in abundance here.