Shrin Hunt has a heart as sweet as her name and a fire as spicy as the pepper sauce she slings out of the Tropical Tacos kitchen and sells at retailers islandwide.
Originally from Iran — “shirin” means “sweet” in Farsi — Hunt has been living on Kauai for more than 20 years and has been a businesswoman with many hats for longer than that — she says she’s in the business of facilitating transformation in every way, shape and form.
For about 18 years, she’s carried the name “Orchid Angel” and has maintained a small business, tending to orchids and consulting with a handful of clients.
But that’s just one of Hunt’s hats. She and her husband also run a nonprofit that supports local and international humanitarian projects and a global peace movement that aims to change the mindset of mankind and put an end to war on the planet.
Hunt is also the “Reset Queen.” She teaches people how to get in touch with their own intuition, discover their purpose in life and find ways to create a life they love.
She says at the root of it all, she’s a teacher, showing people how to cultivate beautiful flowers, create prosperous and happy lives, and how to connect with the planet.
From her childhood days in Iran to living on Kauai, Hunt has a story that takes several twists and turns before it reaches Hawaii. Recently, she sat down with The Garden Island to chat about all of her projects, her love for Kauai and her hopes for the future.
What’s the story of how you moved to Kauai and became established?
My husband. He first brought me here and it’s a long story. I’m Persian, originally from Iran, and I was there through the revolution. My mom and I had to escape the country and I had to grow up really quickly at 13.
So, we left when I was 13 — escaped in a life-or-death situation on horseback through the mountains in the snow, and we got through to Turkey. My dad was in the import/export business at that time, so he was already out of the country. It’s a long story, a whole different story, really, but we met him in Turkey and from there we went to different spots in Europe so he could tie up his business. My uncle, who was working with different businesses in Iran, knew the consulate. So, we got visas and entered into the states (U.S.), where my brother and sister were already living.
This is in 1981. My sister was pregnant at the time. We entered into the middle of California, to San Luis Obispo, where she was going to college. Then we moved to Southern California, where my uncle was. My parents started a business and the business failed. We lived there for about 10 years in Southern California. And then I met my husband there. That was in 1990, and we’ve been together ever since.
He’s been in love with Kauai for years and I had not been here ever. My husband brought me to Kauai for a healing trip after I lost my dad in ’94. I was a daddy’s girl. It was big heartbreak. On the last day we were here, he said: “It’s always been my dream to live here.” I said: “OK, let’s try it.”
It was in our mind, and on our last day we met the woman who ended up being our Realtor. She showed us the property the morning that we were leaving and the place wasn’t even for sale. I saw myself by the river, my outdoor office. I don’t know how but that’s going to be there, I thought. It felt like home.
We stayed in touch with her and she contacted us a year later, said the place is going up for sale are you interested. Within a short amount of time, we signed the deal on the land where we are now and that following weekend I got pregnant. We’d been trying for two-and-a-half years.
So, how did you become the “Orchid Angel?”
I’ve had an orchid business for about 18 years now. But it’s not what I do now, as much. I am the Orchid Angel, but it’s not a business that I make enough to put too much attention to it. I don’t advertise for it, I’m not wanting to be the Orchid Angel to everyone. I have a few clients that are my special clients that I tend to, but that’s really it.
I love orchids. I’ve been in love with them since I was a kid, and I have a lot of, there’s a sort of, my connection to plants is strong. I’d been to the Big Island and Oahu when I was 7. That’s when I fell in love with orchids. So that’s my love of orchids started then. Back in Iran, nobody knew what orchids were and orchids have only become popular in the last few years. Those are hard plants, people think. When they entered Hollywood, into the sets, is when they entered into the realm. It’s interesting (that it’s) only been in the last 10 years.
I was interested and met a man who became my teacher. He and his wife owned a nursery and he let me volunteer — pulling weeds, basically — while I picked his brain about orchids. Eventually, they made organic beer and that took off, so they sold the nursery and decided to go and promote their organic beer. They had a big plant sale and during that time I found all the plants that weren’t fit for sale in these big trash bins.
I asked if I could have them, and he gave them all to me. So, then I had a whole trauma unit for orchids set up on my front lanai, places for the ICU patients and those in critical condition. I started planting them and learning about them. That’s how I got into orchids.
You also sell your own homemade pepper sauce. How did that come about?
Basically, I’ve been making it for over 10 years, and started bottling it about seven years ago. Basically, a pepper plant just appeared in my garden one day, and that’s how it started. It’s a brand new thing, a cross between something. We think a bird created it by dropping seeds.
Anyway, so one day this plant appeared, as if by magic, and I thought, what do I do with this pepper plant? It was pumping out peppers. Pounds. So, I looked up recipes and started learning from Hawaiians on how to make chili pepper water.
One year at Christmas I made my own pepper sauce and gifted everyone a bottle, along with homemade pesto. I spent like 20 hours making stuff. And I thought, I’m never doing this again. But everyone came back the next year and they ran out and were wanting more.
I kept going to the garden and kept hearing “pepper sauce for peace” as I was picking these peppers. I knew that was the product I had to make. That’s where my love goes out into the world.
My local ingredients are the Hawaiian sea salt and the peppers. Then I use organic vinegar. I do everything organically. I use glass bottles, which cost a lot, but I don’t want to mix it with plastic.
You’ve said Pepper Sauce for Peace supports your nonprofit as well as a global peace initiative? Tell us about that.
In 1998 my husband and I created a nonprofit called the Inter Nation Cultural Foundation. It’s designed to be a connection between people and nations. Our idea is that we don’t need governments and rules. We need people trying to benefit the world. We have ability to work globally and have a special standing so we can receive money from global sources.
It’s an umbrella nonprofit that houses 17 or 18 local and global projects under us. On Kauai, we’ve got lots of projects, some helping out kids, one that is helping a man create a yoga shala. We had a project in Nepal (where) this man was making shelter for homeless woman and teaching them to create things and sell them. We have projects in Nepal and India and on Kauai, giving to the world however we can.
If you’ve got a project that’s serving humanity and it’s too much to try and go and get yourself to be a nonprofit, here’s a nonprofit that you could treat as your nonprofit and we’re project partners and support partners. So we can facilitate whatever they need to be to have nonprofit status.
Under that INCF umbrella, we have the Women’s Global Peace Initiative. That’s our nonprofit that promotes peace because, well, the world needs more peace. We created that about eight years ago, and it’s based on the idea that if 9,000 people hold the vibration of peace where we’re really holding it, 9,000 is the number that creates the mass effect the square root of 1% of the population. So if we can hold that vibration together we can birth it for the whole of the planet.
Anyone can be involved. It’s not just for women. Through that I host an online, weekly, live, internal and global peace meditations, putting all of our energy toward peace every Thursday at 10 a.m.
Pepper Sauce For Peace is a way to promote that — I put the Women’s Global Peace Initiative on the label and every dime (of sales) goes toward peace.
Can you sum up what Shirin Hunt is about in a few sentences?
I stand for peace, the time of women, for nonprofits supporting the little guys, and I’m the Reset Queen, so it’s ideally the connection is to reset to our original design.
My work for 30 years has been a business I called Shirin Healing. “Shirin” in Farsi means “sweet,” so that’s “sweet healing.” We can do our transformation in a graceful way instead of racking you through the coals before you transform. Let’s do things with ease.
Pepper Sauce For Peace is something I can make that’s going out into the world, my love to the world. I’m a teacher and a healer, not here to be a cook, but I’ve always loved cooking.
And now, in my free time (TGI: What free time!?), I’m writing two books. The first one is “Mastering Your Intuition,” which will go along with my online class, and then my next book is going to be the story of my childhood, how we escaped Iran and how I became who I am — a Persian woman living on Kauai.
Jessica Else, staff writer, can be reached at 245-0452 or email@example.com.