Date Lady Colleen Sundlie
Back in 2005, Ryan and Colleen Sundlie were both busy with their careers and living in close proximity to Colleen’s advertising agency and the university where Ryan taught. That summer, Colleen gave birth to their first child, Henry, and soon after Ryan was offered a job teaching at the United Arab Emirates University in Al Ain, UAE. Colleen wanting to devote herself full time to the baby, and, always ready for an adventure, was eager to embark on this journey. Upon arrival to their new home in the desert, Colleen explored with 2-month old Henry strapped in a sling. As a foodie, the markets and local cafes fascinated her. Schwarma, hummus, and baba ganoush were plentiful, but one item stood out everywhere she went: dates. This local gem, largely unknown in the U.S., was everywhere. Hospitality from locals always included dates and Arabic coffee. Hotels, shops and restaurants adorned their entryways with beautiful Arabic pottery overflowing with this caramel-like fruit. Something about the dates in this distant land was different than the dried, diced, boxed and pretty much undesirable dates she was familiar with back in the States. There were date boutiques selling high-end varieties of dates—over 100 different cultivars—along with a beautiful selection of related products including sparkling date drinks and dates stuffed with exotic candied fruits and nuts.

Then one day while shopping in a market close to her house, Colleen picked up an item that would someday change her and Ryan’s life significantly. The ladies in the market gathered around her as they often did, pinching little Henry’s cheeks, smiling with their eyes peeking out from their abayas, and told her excitedly about the jar of pure date syrup she was holding in her hands. It was said to heal infirmities, provide nutrition, and make amazing pastries. It was both a survival food of their Bedouin ancestors and a feasting dessert of ancient kings. She had a feeling right then that this might be her favorite item yet, luxurious honey-like nectar derived from the fruit of the date palm. In this part of the world (where over 95% of dates are grown), date syrup overflows. Colleen brought some home to try, thinking she would use it as she did honey, to replace sugar in their household, which she had been doing for quite some time. They baked with it, poured it over oatmeal and cereal, and used it anywhere they would normally use a sweetener. They learned quickly that it was delightful directly on pancakes and waffles. The texture was in fact so luxurious, and the taste so complex and lovely, that they soon found themselves eating it straight off the spoon. They developed recipes with it and shared it with their family and friends.

After a couple years of bringing home suitcases of dates and date syrup, they realized the only way they could ever have a running supply would be to create a company selling the products. They also realized others were going to love them as much as they did. The Sundlies moved back to the States in 2008. After some test marketing and a lot of determination, Date Lady was established in May 2012. Now 4 kids and several years later, Ryan and Colleen both run Date Lady and delight in offering people everywhere luxurious date products like they’ve never tasted before. In addition to a rare organic date variety and pure date syrup, Date Lady also offers California Barhi Dates, date sugar, date paste, coconut date sauce, chocolate spread, smoked maple date syrup, BBQ and sweet chili sauce, all sweetened naturally with dates.

You can count on every product the Date Lady brings to your table to be made with minimal ingredients including no gums, additives or preservatives. 

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