Emma and Amy’s thyme to make a difference

18 June 2024
Emma and Amy Southern 1

For Perth business owners, Emma and Amy Southern, it was an obvious choice to donate the proceeds of their first cookbook to MSWA, having both battled with MS for years. The pair were both diagnosed with MS over a decade ago, a fact that often surprises those who encounter them.

“It’s always a bit of a shock for people when they learn about Amy and my MS diagnosis,” remarked Emma. “Interestingly, our MS diagnosis didn’t lead us to meet each other, it was actually through a friend.”

Their fateful encounter occurred six years ago at a mutual friend’s farewell party. The conversation took an unexpected turn when Amy made a light-hearted remark about having MS, prompting Emma to respond.

“I remember telling Amy that she shouldn’t joke about having MS because I have it,” Emma recalled. “To my surprise, Amy revealed that she also had MS. That’s when the connection clicked.”

As they exchanged details about their respective neurologists and treatments, a sense of disbelief washed over Emma.

The similarities were uncanny – Amy’s neurologist practiced in the same facility where Emma sees her neurologists, and they visit the same hospital to receive the same treatment of Tysabri every month.

“It turns out, for years, we missed crossing paths with each other within a week apart every month. How strange is that!” Emma remarked.

“Back then, we would have to visit the hospital every month and it will take up most of our day. Now, all we do is a simple injection in the comfort of our home.”

This enabled them both to lead more active lifestyles and pursue their passions for travel and food without the restrictions of regular hospital visits.

Both avid travellers, Emma and Amy relish in exploring local cuisines.

“We enjoy trying out various local restaurants and cafes whenever we travel,” Emma mentioned.

“We’ve been making our own spice blends at home for cooking, and during COVID, we thought why not make it a business and share it with others!” Amy added.

The pair established Outer Spice, offering a unique line of curated spice and seasoning blends. Since launching in November 2020, the business has received numerous accolades, including being named Producer of the Year for the 2023 Swan Business Awards and winning International Flavor Awards and Scovie Awards in the United States.

Amy is also a certified international barbecue judge with the Kansas City Barbecue Society, and her tastebuds and knowledge about flavour and food, proves to be useful for the business as well!

“It’s wonderful how we’re able to connect with the community through food. It’s a really good feeling seeing returning customers. People brought our products. They liked it and they came back for more!” Emma said.

The successes from their business have also given the pair the confidence to release their first cookbook - Spice Odyssey Recipes from Outer Spice – Cookbook Vol.1.

The cookbook contains finger-licking recipes using their curated blend of spice and seasoning blends, with part of the proceeds going towards MSWA.

“Our stories are unique in that we both have MS and we’re in a fortunate position to give back to the community,” Emma commented.

The pair has also contributed to fundraising for MSWA, with Amy having taken part in the MSWA Ocean Ride twice.

Emma provided some words of encouragements for those living with MS.

“When I first got diagnosed, I felt like it was the end of the world. I went down the rabbit hole on the internet, I stayed awake at night and panicked about my future. But with the right resources and people around you, it’s going to be manageable, and you can live with it!”

Amy added, “Research and advancements in medicine have come a long way and has made a big difference for the MS community. You don’t have to feel alone, there is help.”

MSWA would like to thank Emma and Amy for sharing their story with MS, and for their contribution to improving the lives of West Australians living with neurological conditions.

Click the link to purchase a copy of the Spice Odyssey Recipes from Outer Spice – Cookbook Vol.1 comprising of 28 delicious recipes, crafted for the confident home cook and kitchen beginner.