Name: Shazi Visram
Job Title and Description: Founder and CEO of Happy Family (A premium, organic food company for babies, toddlers, kids and their mothers)
College Name/Major: Columbia University, BA Visual Arts, History/ MBA, Columbia University
Instagram Handle: @shazi_visram
What does your current job entail? Is there such a thing as a typical day?
I was inspired to start Happy Family because a close friend of mine, a working mother of twins, struggled to find healthy food for her babies in the traditional baby food aisle. Her struggle led me to do some research about the marketplace, and I found most of the products were highly processed, not organic or of good quality and lacked the beneficial nutrients to support a lifetime of wellness. I really wanted babies to have a healthy relationship with food from the start. This mission of creating an enlightened assortment of organic meals and snacks ultimately led to helping not only babies, but toddlers and moms on their journeys. There’s no such thing as a typical day in my household or office, but my every day consists of continuing our mission wherever I am and whatever I am doing.
What is the best part of your job?
The best part about my job is waking up every day and knowing that Happy Family is bettering the lives of children and families across the world. My dream was to create an enlightened brand of organic foods that offer the right nutrition for every stage. Happy Family is all about helping parents choose healthy organic food options for their children every day, no matter what their schedules bring. Furthermore, we’re all about helping women and mothers nourish their own bodies with our SHINE Organics and Happy Mama products. As a working mom myself, it’s important to me to create products that benefit women’s health because that's actually the best way to ensure our children are at their best, when mom has already been focusing on her health and nutrition.
What was your first entry-level job in your field and how did you get it?
I had the chance to be the first person in digital media at a well-known NYC media buying agency. I got it because I had been teaching inner city teachers and students how to start using the internet in 1999 I felt that I knew my way around the early days of digital marketing.
What words of wisdom do you find most valuable?
Life is short, make the most of every moment.
What is one mistake you made along the way and what did you learn from it?
I have learned not to rely on societal expectations of what happiness should look like. I used to imagine a "perfect" family life with "perfect" kids that would be just like everyone else. My family life is actually very different from typical, and while it took me some time to adjust to having a child with special needs and all that comes with that, it doesn't make me any less deserving of that happiness I had always imagined. I think we all need to be able to adapt to our surroundings to stay happy.
What has been the most surreal moment of your career thus far?
In 2013, I was fortunate enough to be invited to The White House, where former President Barack Obama recognized Happy Family in a speech for our mission-based business approach to doing business and then I got to sit and have dinner with the president. In that moment, I personally felt so successful because the company I started was being acknowledged by the POTUS as making a difference in the lives of families, and I was called out as a leader to emulate. That was especially surreal as I have so much respect for the former president as a leader. I do actually care about doing what it right regardless of the economics and it was incredible to be recognized for it. Happy Family is a dream come true, and we are feeding the young minds that will continue to change the world.
What do you look for when considering hiring someone?
I want to surround myself with a team of creative and agile people who believe in Happy Family’s mission. I need people on my team who live and breathe our values, and are 100% behind them. It’s important to be strong and independent in the way we solve problems and make progress so I encourage employees to have that mentality of being independent thinkers that also thrive in a team environment.
What advice would you give to a 20-something with similar aspirations?
I want to stress the importance that no matter who you are, where you come from, or what you’d like to do in life, anything is possible if you set your mind to it and are willing to put in the time to accomplish your goals. When starting Happy Family, I had a vision and have achieved success not from whom I was, but through what I did. To all the aspiring future entrepreneurs, you can absolutely do it!
What's the one thing that's stood out to you the most in a resume?
My very first employee was utterly overqualified for everything I was looking for to market a new product launch. She just sincerely wanted to be a part of what we were doing and wanted to help in every way she could. I've never forgotten the power of our mission, especially when I still see her smiling face in the office 12 years later.