The People Behind ZFC

"If it can stand to be flown, fly it... And if you're going to collect, put them up so people can experience them. To see them, that's a kid's dream." Ben Zaricor

Ben Zaricor

Managing Partner

In 1969, Ben Zaricor was enjoying an evening out in St. Louis, the city of his alma mater, Washington University, when he witnessed a young man being beaten up for wearing an American flag vest, a moment that changed his life and initiated his passion for amassing the largest historical flag collection in the world.

For over three decades, Ben and his wife Louise Veninga had been involved in the importation, processing and distribution of teas, herbs and spices to food and beverage companies all over the world.

Shortly before their marriage in 1971, the Zaricors began a company with three college friends. The original idea was to import 10-speed bicycles through a company called Fmali Inc. Anticipating high demand for the bicycles they pursued this plan for nearly a year, aiming to import container loads of bicycles from Southeast Asia.

Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, their supplier did not come through with the bicycles. The Zaricors subsequently began planning to go to China, envisioning a promising future for those who made the first contacts with the Chinese as their economy began to open up. The initial idea was to import the analgesic ointment Tiger Balm; however, by early 1972 their college partners had gone their separate ways, and the Zaricors decided to move to California, believing it would be easier to do business with China from California than St. Louis.

The couple moved to Santa Cruz, California, in 1972 and began their business. Researching Tiger Balm in San Francisco's Chinatown, the Zaricors spoke with local merchants and learned about herbal medicine just as the natural herb and natural food phenomenon was beginning. It was on the streets of Chinatown that they discovered ginseng, a herb that is not only native to Korea and China but also native to America and one of the country's oldest trading commodities.

The Zaricors then traveled the country establishing business contacts and researching ginseng and other American botanicals. In addition to launching Tiger Balm in America, the Zaricors have also been credited as the pioneers of ginseng and herbal ingredients within the U.S. Market. Their company, Fmali, was the first American herb company to be received in China since 1949, an approval process through the Chinese government that took four years and came to fruition in 1976.

Through the Zaricors' research, travel and contacts, the company became a primary source of botanicals and spices for a then-developing U.S. herbal market. Over the next decade, Fmali became the leading supplier of such ingredients for Celestial Seasonings, Thomas J. Lipton and many other tea, herb and spice companies.

In the late 1970's, the company was contracted by Good Earth® Restaurants to make and distribute the Original Tea Blend from their factory in Santa Cruz. Later, in the mid-1980's, the Zaricors licensed the name Good Earth Teas® and marketed the products nationally in supermarkets. In 1993 they bought the trademark rights of Good Earth® for all the restaurants, teas and other food products.

Until its sale in 2005, the Zaricors continued to develop their tea sales nationwide. Ben Zaricor stayed in the capacity of CEO until 2006 during their tenure Good Earth® Teas became a national brand.

For over three decades, Ben Zaricor has been gradually amassing an enormous collection of flags and flag-related items. The legendary collector and vexillologist Howard Michael Madaus has referred to the Zaricor collection as "one of the best, if not the best, American flag collections in the country." Anne Crump of American Spirit Magazine once described Ben Zaricor as "the owner of a collection of American flags that makes vexillologists' hearts flutter."

The book entitled "The American Flag: Two Centuries of Concord & Conflict" is drawn from an incredible Zaricor Flag Collection of over 2.600 flags and related items. Ben Zaricor also co-founded the 2003 exhibition at the Presidio of San Francisco on the history of the American flag, which was only the third time in history this has been accomplished and was described by the San Francisco chronicle "one of the top 10 pop culture events of the year". The Zaricor Flag Collection, however, is also a home to flags from all over the world and history; from Renaissance Italy to Communist China. Ben and his wife Louise also produced a PBS documentary 'The American Flag: Two Centuries of Concord and Conflict' that ran for 5 years.

Louise Veninga


Louise Veninga shares her husband’s passion for flags and Americana memorabilia through her own impressive collection of handmade American quilts, several examples of which are featured in the exhibit, “The American Flag: Two Centuries of Concord & Conflict.” An accomplished collector and historian, she holds a Bachelor’s degree in history and a Masters degree in urban affairs from Washington University. She is the co-author of two books with her husband on ginseng and other herbs, which together have sold more than 160,000 copies. She is a great believer in, and supporter of, the preservation of women’s art, which is realized in her long-held dedication to collecting American quilts and other artworks.

Tanya Marie Veninga-Zaricor


When Tanya was born the Zaricor Flag Collection was quite modest. One could say that they both grew up together. Currently, Tanya is a student with an Associate of Arts Degree in Art, who is currently broadening her horizons by studying the theater arts. Her devotion to the arts is varied; including painting, sculpture, and drawing and even the piano is among her other artistic interests.

Tanya assists the Zaricor Flag Collection with cataloguing, registration and preservation and enjoys mounting and framing flags. She has assisted in exhibitions at the Presidio of San Francisco and Washington DC. She also assisted in the production of the PBS documentary 'The American Flag: Two Centuries of Concord and Conflict'. Using her art skills she has rendered many flags to canvas; her favorites originating from America, United Kingdom, Hawaii and France.

Tanya lives in Santa Cruz. She enjoys world travel and counts Hawaii, England, France and Germany among her favorite places. She aspires to see Australia and New Zealand. When not studying, traveling or helping with the collection, Tanya enjoys swimming, biking and hiking. She is also an accomplished seamstress and knitter.

Karen Lesley Reed Veninga-Zaricor


Like her older sister Karen also grew up with the Zaricor Flag Collection. Karen is currently pursuing university degrees in both international relations and theatre arts. She attended Marymount Manhattan College before transferring to the University of California at Santa Cruz.

Like her sister, she assists in the cataloguing, registration and preservation of flags. In addition, she works on marketing, research and public relations. She participated in the preparation for the Presidio exhibitions of San Francisco and in Washington DC, where she assisted in showing the exhibit both to conference attendees as well as giving presentations to Congressional members of the House and Senate. In 2006/07 Karen, alongside her sister, assisted in the production of the PBS documentary regarding the collection.

Karen is an accomplished world traveler and has completed intensive studies in the German language with her studies in Germany. Karen also has attended special theatre courses at the London Academy of Music and Drama in London. She has strong interest in movie production particularly documentaries. Karen lives in Santa Cruz and enjoys the beach and the vibrant music scene. Plus her dog and cat!

James Ferrigan

Curator, Zaricor Flag Collection

James Ferrigan is Curator of the Zaricor Flag Collection and one of the leading historians of the American flag. As a consulting vexillologist, he has worked with flags, in the public and private sectors, for over 35 years.

In the 1980s, Mr. Ferrigan pioneered the concept of a “walk-in retail” for the Paramount Flag Company, of San Francisco, CA, the West Coast's largest full facility manufacturer. That business, The Flag Store, became a San Francisco landmark. The Flag Store developed and successfully brought many new flags to market, including the very successful, “Rainbow Flag”. In 1987 he co-hosted Flag Congress / San Francisco, the second largest gathering of vexillologists ever assembled. In 1991 he wrote the specifications for the Nevada State Flag. In 1996 he was an invited conferee to the Conference on the Preservation of the Star-Spangled Banner, convened by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC; where he reported for the Public Perceptions section on how the general public might perceive the project and features it should incorporate.

He studied museology and received a secondary education credential in U.S. and World History from the University of Nevada. He is active in his family’s Nevada ranching business and is a volunteer for the Nevada State Museum. Mr. Ferrigan lives in Reno, Nevada with his wife and son where he is an avid Scouter with the Nevada Area Council, Boy Scouts of America.

Roberto Avila

Creative Director

Roberto Avila is the Creative Director of the Zaricor Flag Collection and has extensive experience in creative marketing, design, online and exhibit management, leading a full spectrum of creative projects. He is the designer of the acclaimed book The American Flag: Two Centuries of Concord & Conflict, the exhibit designer for both Presidio Flag Exhibits and the U.S. Presidential Debate Flag Exhibit in Washington University in St. Louis. Mr. Avila is a graduate of San Jose State University in Industrial Design. He lives in Fresno, California.