Meet a Mom: Marlena Jayatilake is the Spice of Life! | Chicago North Shore Moms



Welcome to Chicago North Shore Moms weekly Meet a Mom series where we feature one local mama, what they’re up to both personally and professionally. This week’s Meet a Mom feature is the lovely Evanston resident of two children and owner of Love That Spice in Highland Park, Marlena Jayatilake. The former litigation paralegal saw a need to help make people go through life just feeling healthier through the medicinal benefits of spice. Welcome, Marlena!


Please introduce yourself. Where are you from originally? What city do you live in now? What brought you here?

My name is Marlena Jayatilake. I was born and raised on the South Side of Chicago in a little community called Englewood. What you see in the news today is quite different from the Englewood, as observed by a little girl growing up there. As an adult, I lived in Skokie for 17 years and have just recently moved to Evanston, which is literally across the street!


You’re a mama! How many kiddos do you have and how old are they?

I am the proud mama of two very different children. As we like to tease, my daughter is more rambunctious and my son is very docile in nature.



What’s your favorite thing about being a mom?

Giving and receiving unconditional love.


Do you have any favorite mom tips that make quarantine/COVID life a little easier?

I try hard not to focus on COVID. As insane as that may seem, I focus more on the unusual opportunity that I have to spend quality time with my children. I also find that I cherish time with friends and family even more than I did before, which I find to be beautiful. COVID made me slow down to focus on that. Yes it is frustrating, but then I remember that this is just a period of time so it’s easier to move forward. My heart breaks for the tragedy that others have experienced.


If you have any podcasts or apps that help inspire you, calm you, help you run your business or organize your life, what are your faves?

Deepak Chopra is my favorite podcast. He makes me focus on being a better human. The money will come there but if you are a loving force of nature, you are super rich. What does this mean? It means that I focus on mind over money….people over profit.


Do you have any go-top local takeout restaurants?

My favorite local takeout is Backyard Grill and Curt’s Cafe. The first is clearly about filling my temple and the latter is about the message…who do we want to be?


Please introduce your business or Love That Spice. The feedback about your shop has been phenomenal and Highland Park is thrilled to have you! 

I opened up Love That Spice & Tea Shop because I fell in love with spices….the wellness side. We all know that spices taste really good in our food. Most of us didn’t know at the time, that spices held an array of awesome benefits. This is why I opened my store, not only to sell the culinary value of a spice, but to sell the medicinal value.  I was all in! I read every manual, every research publication and immersed myself in the art of everyday spices and herbs  that heal.



What did you do before opening up this shop?

Prior to opening Love That Spice, I was a litigation paralegal.


What is your biggest challenge about running a foot-traffic business during this pandemic?

Honestly, I didn’t feel like we had any real challenges. The folks that come to visit are so kind, really receptive and just….we all worked together as a community.


What are your most popular products and why?

My most popular products are the Turmeric Ginger Anti-inflammatory Herbal Tea and the Mushroom Magic Herbal Elixir are my 2 top selling teas. The first is a wonderful anti-inflammatory tea and the latter a wonderful cup of mushroom tea bursting with health benefits. I always thought that if you could make healthy taste good, why not be well?



Anything that makes the perfect holiday gift? Or pre/post natal gifts? Or even perimenopausal?

We have lots of items to choose from. We carry spices and handcrafted wellness and gourmet tea and accessories.



Who are your influencers and/or mentors that have helped you get to where you are today and/or continue to inspire you.

My grandmother is my mentor. She passed earlier this year at age 89. She was a gem.


What advice can you give other mamas out there who are looking to start a new business in the current climate?

The advice I would give to other mamas is to get good help for the kids. Don’t feel like a failure if you need help. I didn’t get help and it could be stressful at times. Thank goodness for my hubby he stayed with kids during the day and then me in the evening so he could work at our shop.



What’s on the horizon for Love That Spice? Future aspirations, plans….

my horizon looks pretty sunny….really happy. I’m not sure what the future holds….I just know I will be dancing in the sunlight with my cool ass family🌿


LOVE THAT SPICE serves teas and wellness boosts, herbs, spices and gifts for curbside pick up. Hours vary due to COVID. Store Pickup Hours Tuesday – Saturday 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Please call ahead: (847) 780-4658. We are located at: 1893 Sheridan Road, Highland Park, IL 60035.


Join The Chicago North Shore Moms Network Community

Stay up-to-date with what is happening in-and-around The Chicago North Shore community with local events, community highlights, and exclusive deals.