L.J. and Kim Williams of Houston, Texas, are still basking in the excitement of getting their all-natural turmeric paste, Jinka, on grocery store shelves as of late September. The premium products hit the shelves on Sept. 28 in 31 H-E-B stores in the greater Houston area. H-E-B is one of the largest supermarkets in Texas with over 300 locations exclusively in Texas and northeast Mexico.
The idea of the paste came about in 2015 after Kim Williams was diagnosed with pre-diabetes after the birth of their second child. “There’s a season after having a baby that is unexplainable,” Kim Williams recalled. “I had never really been diagnosed with anything, and so it was a real shock.”
The health scare inspired the couple to dive deeper into research about a healthier lifestyle. L.J. Williams wanted to do what he could to make sure the pre-diabetes — when the blood sugar is slightly higher than normal, but not enough to reach the point of diabetes — didn’t transition to diabetes. He and his wife created the product in just six months. Jinka is a premium turmeric paste that comes in two sizes, ranging from $25 to $40.
It is a mix of eight essential herbs, with the product name inspired by ancient African civilizations. The product reduces inflammation, assists with pain relief, and promotes heart and cell health, but the couple says customers can use it for much more. “I remember when we started, he was just making like a small batch for her, trying to cure her…we are in H-E-B’s now,” said their nephew Malcolm Williams, who also works in the business.
L.J. Williams said that the number of testimonies they received is in the thousands. “I had one lady, whose mother was taking it that had arthritis in her hands,” L.J. Williams shared. “For the last five years, her fingers were bent because of auto-immune arthritis. One day she was sitting at her desk, and she started rubbing her hands and realized all of her fingers straightened back up. That was maybe about a year into it.”
The couple initially had no idea how they would get their product into stores. In the beginning, they set up booths at local restaurants, farmers’ markets, and even doctors’ offices to spread the word about their new product. They entered local contests and made connections all around Houston to promote Jinka, but nothing panned out.
After five years, an H-E-B manager and family friend was able to help them make their dreams a reality. “It feels amazing,” Kim Williams said, with tears in her eyes. “We’ve worked really hard for this. It’s a life shift for our family. L. J and I believe that our ancestors gifted us with this opportunity, so we just want to do our best.”
The couple views this as a win for the African-American community as well. “I think there’s power in community, I think we came from community, somewhere we’ve disconnected that,” Kim Williams said. “I believe that if we create our own communities; this doesn’t have to be as hard as we make it.”