Former runway model turned ethical entrepreneur, Lee Capatina, turned a passion for Ayurvedic nutrition into a thriving business bringing the benefits of organic clarified butter to Canada, with Lee’s Ghee. Her company, Lee’s Provisions, is now expanding into organic teas to tempt taste buds with tulsi. Here, she shares the motivation behind her healthy mission.
1. For our readers who don’t know, what’s involved in making ghee?
Ghee is made using an ancient process from India, which removes all of the impurities from butter, resulting in an easier-to-digest form of butter with a very high smoke point. To make ghee, you take good quality butter and simmer it on low heat for a very long time until the milk solids separate and caramelize, turning golden brown. You then strain out the solids, and you’re left the pure butter oil that you can use for anything, from slathering on toast, to melting on veggies, or frying eggs. Since ghee has a high smoke point (up to 250°C), which is even higher than coconut oil, it is one of the safest oils for sautéing or frying. Not only does ghee taste delicious, but the healthy fat makes you feel fuller for longer, fuels your brain, improves your skin and digestion, balances your hormones and gives you energy.
2. How did you fall in love with clarified butter?
I first learned about ghee during a workshop on Ayurveda. They taught us about the different ‘doshas’ or constitutions and I learned that ghee was particularly good for my primary Ayurvedic constitution, vata. I tried my hand at making ghee at home, and after failing a few times, I learned the art of making ghee and fell totally in love with its rich, buttery taste. Working as a model in the fashion industry had led me to believe that all fat was bad and to be avoided at all costs; so it was quite a revelation to learn about the importance of healthy fats and how they can help us look and feel our best.
3. When did you realize that you might be able to turn your home-cooked ghee into a burgeoning business?
My business informally began while I was studying at the Institute of Holistic Nutrition back in 2015. There was a lot of interest in my ghee from students and teachers at the school, so I would stay up late at night making ghee at home and packaging it in mason jars. I soon decided to make the leap to pursue my business full-time, so I moved my ghee production to a shared commercial kitchen and began selling at local farmers’ markets, where I gained a loyal following. This gave me the confidence to approach independent retailers to carry my ghee on their shelves.
4. What was your experience like on CBC’s The Dragons’ Den?
Going on The Dragons’ Den was a total game changer because it took the brand from being a small, local business to being in front of an audience of hundreds of thousands. I had no idea what to expect going on the show, but I made sure I was well prepared for any questions the Dragons would ask me so that I didn’t get too flustered. And, of course, I was thrilled about getting a deal with Joe Mimran, who built fashion empires Joe Fresh and Pink Tartan – both brands I had worked for when I was modeling several years prior. Joe really knows how to build brands and he is a great mentor.
5. Are you still making the batches of ghee by hand yourself?
No, thank goodness! That was very exhausting doing it all by myself. We now have an amazing production team who makes our ghee, while I mainly look after all the operations and logistics, from sourcing the highest quality organic ingredients to ensuring that the ghee is made correctly and meets our quality standards.
6. Tell us about your recent trip to India!
In January, I was lucky enough to be able to go to India to meet with some of our suppliers for our new line of organic tea blends called Lee’s Tea. This was a great experience as I got to learn more about sourcing teas and visit the Himalayan region of India, where I had never been before. I love visiting India as Ayurveda is so widespread in the culture, and you can find Ayurvedic food, treatments and supplements no matter where you go, which is really inspiring. I hope that one day, Ayurveda will become widespread in the West too, and it’s my goal to help make that happen!
7. In your own words, tell us why using organic butter is so important to you.
Using organic butter is really important to me for both health and environmental reasons. Conventional dairy is full of hormones, antibiotics and pesticides, which can cause a range of health problems. Since our bodies are already burdened by all the chemicals in our environment, it’s crucial we to take measures to not add more chemicals to our toxic load. Consuming organic dairy also means that less toxic chemicals leach into our water supply. My hope is that with increasing demand, more dairy farmers will switch over to organic and that it will become the norm and not the exception.
8. Your company donates 10% of profits to help save the Asian elephant. Why is this so important to you?
Giving back to protect elephants is very important to me because I have seen firsthand the dangers Asian elephants face as human development encroaches on their natural habitats, nearly forcing them into extinction. 90% of Asian elephants have disappeared in the past century, with only 45,000 left in existence. However, the survival of the Asian elephant is much bigger than just the elephant alone. Elephants are a keystone species, which means they play a key role in maintaining biodiversity. They do so by spreading seeds across forests, creating gaps in the vegetation, which allows new plants to grow, and using their tusks to dig for water, which provides water for other creatures living in dry areas. If we lose the elephant, we lose biodiversity, so it’s important that we do what we can to help save them.
Lee’s Provisions founder Lee Capatina started making her own ghee, which eventually led her to create her company. Lee’s goal is to inspire others to find their unique inner beauty and to feel radiant, healthy, alive, beautiful and connected. When you truly care for yourself, your inner beauty automatically shines through for all to see. Find out more about Lee, her ghee and teas at: leesprovisions.com