We had prepared this interview with Yasaman Haj-shafiei a weeks ago, however we both felt the need to preface it with her thoughts about recent events.
Not an expert, nor someone who can articulate their thoughts particularly well, but as with everyone else, these past few weeks have been so transformational and awakening for me as I uncovered layers to the message that millions around the world were conveying. I too had a roller coaster of thoughts, emotions, and stances as I listened, discussed, learned, and reflected. As a Muslim women entrepreneur, I have faced my share of racism but I have come to the realization that this is about generations of oppression. I believe the changes made at personal levels - from our hearts, families, and communities - will not only help bring equality to our Black communities but be the setting stone to bring equality and acceptance to all races and ethnic minorities. I think the day we come to the realization that the thing that is separating one person from another is our hearts and deeds, is when we come to the true meaning of equality. This whole situation has been able to bring so many people together to speak up and to take action. As we all assess our companies, communities, and families to see how to not only be non-racist but anti-racist (meaning being pro-active in our actions - whether it be through training, collaborations, diversifying teams, or any other way you go about it) - let’s make sure our actions are on-going and have long-term effects, as the news/media outlets may eventually cycle and move on. What actions, mindsets, and structure are we holding to ensure equality when this is not cycling social media anymore? Let’s continue to educate ourselves about all of inequality, and take action for it all on a daily basis with how we operate in our personal lives, in our communities, and in our workplaces.
What’s the status of your business? Did you have to pivot, go online, temporarily close?
Given the nature of our product, the Stress-Less powder (and everyone wanting to deal with the inevitable stresses of these times and their mental wellness), we actually saw an increase in sales during this time.
From the beginning, I wanted our e-commerce to go hand-in-hand with our other reaches like retail, yoga/meditation studios, or corporate sales. So a few months ago, when all of this was arising, we didn’t necessarily need to create any new platforms, however we did need to make a shift of where we are concentrating our sales efforts on. As a business owner, although you want to concentrate on the most efficient revenue generating streams, it is also critical to ensure you are diversified enough to have different income streams within your business, so when something unexpected (like, oh I don’t know, a pandemic arises) and you lose one stream, you can still rely on other parts. This really helped us push through these times. Although some of our current and potential retailers, in-person events and corporate streams were not happening anymore, we still had our online gateway to rely on.
What’s been the hardest part of this pandemic for you?
I think as for everyone, it is really the uncertainty of what our norm will look like, but only time will tell.
Also, while I’m supper thankful for all the blessings I have, there are so many people that are facing hardships, and need our help as they fight this first hand and that’s why although it was a large portion of our individual sales, we decided to donate $5 of all our online sales to the Knix PPE fundraiser. We really have realized that everything is interrelated and our actions, whether big or small, can have a large impact.
What can we as a community do for you?
I’m a firm believer that if I shine light on someone else’s world, light will shine back on me in some way and time in the world. So go ahead and shine light on the small businesses around you in whatever way you deem feasible.
Follow our Instagram page and our blog as we share lifestyle tips of healing naturally on a daily, and if you want a doze of zen during these days while donating to a great cause, buy our Stress-Less powders and mix into your favourite foods and beverages.
A sincere thank you to all, your support has been what's kept us going and what will continue to do so.
What advice would you give women?
From our purchasing power, to where we invest our time and money, we have the ability to really IMPACT our female communities that are doing good in the world with an undeniable force. So be aware of your surroundings, communicate with them, even if you’re an introvert like I am, reach out and get help and give help. As consumers, demand transparency and efficacy so we make sure we are supporting building brands that will benefit our next generations to come and that they have good platforms to step on.
Also, show up for yourself every day, even if it’s for 5 minutes a day. Do something for yourself to bring harmony to you on a daily basis, whether it be a calming drink, exercise routine, meditation, or whatever else that brings you peace.
What is your greatest hope right now?
As a newly-launched business, we were really hoping for new stores and spaces to finally give our “new” product a ‘go’ and when this all happened, most said, ‘let’s touch base in a few months as we are dealing with necessities.’ So we had to really reevaluate our efforts, which led to us forming so many great new relationships with fellow women entrepreneurs and have so many awesome collaborations in the works. So I hope that we are able to really cherish the communities that we have built and continue to build and learn to make impactful relationships to really support one another going forward. As I see this whole situation transitioning us, I hope that we are all able to rely on these communities to collectively better evaluate how we live. Realize what our lifestyles choices are doing to us, to the environment, and ultimately shaping our futures.
What are the 3 things keeping you sane?
1. Spending time with my immediate family.
2. Going in nature. There's something in nature that always keeps me grounded and puts me at ease.
3. Facial Gua Sha routine. The perfect way to start and end my day, this is the 5 minutes I have for myself.
We recently started asking women to share a favourite plant-based recipe with their interview. Here is one from Yasaman.
My favourite current recipe: Almond Mylk. This is my new quick cheat way, since let's face it, we don't got time for all the filtering etc.
- 2tbs almond butter (I make mine myself if I can)
- 4 cups water
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 dates
Mix in a blender and sip on some greatness!
ELEVATE! We are committed to representing a much greater diversity of BIPOC women in this series and are now asking every female food founder we feature to spotlight a BIPOC woman from their own network.
As part of their new initiative in ensuring all women voices in the food business are raised, Marissa has asked me if I wanted to shout-out anyone. I’d like to introduce you to my friend Valerie Azinge, the founder of My Digital Kitchen. After going through her journey with food, she decided to cater to different dietary needs with her dessert delivery offering. She now shares her amazing insight with her new cookbook, which has amazing dinner recipes! You will love making her mouthwatering recipes and she shares so much of it on Instagram too! X