Some women we admire from afar. Others, we have the pleasure of calling them friends. This is the case with July’s ‘Women to Admire’ article.
Nazanin is a qualified plant based nutritionist and macrobiotic cook. She is also the owner of the first completely vegan cafe in Oxford, England, called Plants and Pilates. Read her story here.
What made you want to start your own business?
I think I always wanted to be in control of my own time, and to work hard for something that made a difference. Starting the cafe was unplanned. But I felt there was a need for a completely healthy, vegan place that people could eat good, clean food, that was going to make them feel amazing. I’ve definitely never worked harder in my life, but I’m in control of what I do and when. At the same time, I’m doing something that makes a difference to people.
What obstacles did you face along the way?
There are too many to list! But the main one has to be self-doubt. It sounds cheesy but the number of times I’ve thought “I can’t” and had to somehow find the drive to just do it, is countless.
The other major obstacle which I’m still facing today is delegating; trusting other people and allowing people to help you is difficult. But if you can’t let go of that and let people in, a business can’t really grow.
If you could only keep five possessions, what would they be?
- Magimix Food Processor (never thought I would say that)
- My dog, Lady (though I don’t like to think of her as a possession…I definitely couldn’t live without her)
- A book called Outliers (it’s just so inspirational, thought provoking and magical)
- My Nutri bullet or Vitamix
- My car
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given and what would you advise to another female looking to start their own company?
It’s a long one, but it was a paragraph by Deepak Chopra, given to me by Suzanne Sherlock who owns the yoga studio Downdog + Crow, next to my cafe.
“The search for security is an illusion. In ancient traditions, the solution to this whole dilemma lies in the wisdom of insecurity, or the wisdom of uncertainty. This means that the search for security and certainty is actually an attachment to the known. And what is the known? The known is the past. The known is nothing other than the prison of the past conditioning. There’s no evolution in that. Uncertainty, on the other hand, is the fertile ground of pure creativity and freedom. Uncertainty means stepping into the unknown in every moment of our existence. The unknown is the field of all possibilities, ever fresh, ever new, always open to the creation of new manifestations. When you experience uncertainty, you are on the right path, so don’t give it up. You don’t need to have a complete rigid idea of what you’ll be doing next week or next year, because if you have a very clear idea of what’s going to happen and you get rigidly attached to it, then you shut out the whole range of possibilities. Through the wisdom of uncertainty, you will find new security.”
My advice to any female or male starting a business would be just to do it. Fear will try and hold you back, but don’t let it. I don’t know what will happen next week, but I know that if I hadn’t started this business, I would never have met the amazing people I have met or felt the push I have towards my calling.
You’re a new addition to the crayon box. What colour would you be and why?
Grey. Because not everything is black and white, and beauty can be found in the middle ground.
What inspires you?
Igniting passion or belief in others. Nothing inspires me to do more than knowing I’ve made one person happier through a conversation or through the food they have taken from the cafe. I also always find inspiration through reading a good book, conversations I have with friends, and Pinterest!
What do you feel most proud of?
The cafe. Keeping it going, and changing peoples lives through food. Sharing knowledge on nutrition and animal welfare.
What does a perfect day look like to you?
If it wasn’t a day at the cafe, which it often is, on a wonderfully sunny day with my regular customers and yoga ladies, it would have to be a day trip to London. Taking the train down from Oxford early in the morning, doing a reformer Pilates class at HeartCore, breakfast at Thomas’ cafe in Burberry, mooching around Selfridges. Lunch at Wildfood cafe in Neals Yard, meeting up with my London pals for afternoon cocktails, back home to my sausage dog (Lady) for a walk around the forest with her. Ending with dinner with my girls.