Shazi Visram, founder and CEO of Happy Family baby food brand, wanted to help parents who were having a hard time finding healthy options in the baby food aisle.
One of those parents happened to be Visram's friend, a working mother of twins, whose baby-food challenges inspired the Columbia Business School graduate and mother of two to take action.
"[My friend's] struggle led me to do some research about the marketplace, and I found most of the products were highly processed, not organic, made with preservatives and lacked the beneficial nutrients to support a lifetime of wellness," Visram tells Mom.me via email. "I really wanted babies to have a healthy relationship with food from the start."
So in 2006, Visram launched Happy Family, and the brand has grown from offering a small selection of organic meals and snacks to including products for toddlers and moms, too. In fact, the company just launched its breastfeeding-support line that includes lactation oat bars, as well as an organic formula line.
Visram also shares how she juggles her work life as the mother of two young children and the moment she first felt successful.
As a mother as well as the founder and CEO of Happy Family, how do you make it all work?
Teamwork! While I consider Happy Family to be my first “baby,” true motherhood is what I love the most in the world. I have an amazing husband, Joe, who is my rock and biggest supporter. Without him, I wouldn’t be where I am. It’s all about balance. In the little free time I do have, I make sure to enjoy it by spending time with my family and trying to just enjoy everyday life.
When did you first feel successful?
Gosh, there are a few big moments! Honestly, knowing that I was supporting other moms while building a company that supports parents, that felt like true success to me. The journey wasn’t always easy, and so pushing myself from an entrepreneurial perspective felt good.
In 2013, I was fortunate enough to be invited to the White House, where former President Barack Obama recognized Happy Family for our mission-based business approach. In that moment, I personally felt successful because I knew what we were doing was making a difference in the lives of families everywhere. It’s always been a dream of mine to create something bigger than myself, and that’s what Happy Family is.
As a successful female entrepreneur, what are some ways that you want to teach your children about "girl power"?
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. When starting Happy Family, I had a vision and have achieved success not from who I was, but through what I did. To all the aspiring future female entrepreneurs, you can do it!
Has there been anything about creating Happy Family that surprised you or inspired you in a way you didn't expect?
Over the past decade, I’ve learned so much about motherhood, parenting and entrepreneurship, and have come to realize that they are all very similar. In fact, maybe that’s why, combined with societal change, so many female entrepreneurs are now emerging. Much like motherhood, starting and growing a successful business involves sleepless nights, risk-taking, amazing highs (and some really tough lows), but all under an umbrella of purpose and love.
What's your advice for moms who are looking to start their own business?
Never underestimate the power of teamwork and putting positive energy into a tough scenario. Staying motivated and focused during the bumps in the road is imperative to getting across to the other side.
What sacrifices have you made as a mom and business owner to keep everything in balance?
Finding the "perfect" balance between work and my personal life has always been a struggle, especially in the beginning when I dedicated everything to Happy Family. When you have a baby, the workload doesn’t change, but still women don’t have to sacrifice quality parenting to achieve professional success. To stay on track, I’ve learned to ask for help, schedule time for myself, and take a step back to prioritize. While I’m not always 100 percent balanced, I’d like to think I’m tackling it pretty well.
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.
If you could have lunch with any business person living or dead, who would it be and why?
I like to be around people who are optimists, who think differently and see a much bigger picture, so there are a number of people I'd love to meet. For example, Richard Branson, Elon Musk (I have a Tesla that I’m obsessed with, especially the adorable key) and—always—Oprah.
Do your children have a favorite item from the Happy Family menu?
My children are my best customers! My son Zane loves a lot of our snacks, specifically the Puffed Dino Snacks, and my daughter Asha is just starting on solid foods. She loves our Happy Baby Clearly Crafted pouches, teethers and puffs. I was able to breastfeed my son for over two years, but struggled more with producing enough milk for Asha after a few months, so I actually use our brand new Happy Baby Organic Infant Formula with her. I'm so proud we now offer a formula to those who need something they can feel good about and trust.
Are there any new initiatives or products on the horizon for Happy Family?
Just this month, we proudly announced a new platform focused on supporting parents of infants. We’re arming parents with emotional and expert resources, and trustworthy products to help achieve exceptional, tailored nutrition for their children. Our new online resource center offers direct—and free—access to Cornell-certified nutritionists, dietitians and lactation specialists, as well as educational materials on a variety of topics. This is such an exciting moment for Happy Family, and we are dedicated to providing empowerment and confidence to parents on their infant's feeding journey.
Happy Family believes breast milk offers ideal nutrition and encourages breastfeeding as the best option, but we know that it isn’t always easy or possible. To help, we have expanded our Happy Mama product offerings to now provide support for moms on their postpartum journey with Happy Mama breastfeeding support products, including lactation oat bars and a breastfeeding support probiotic supplement to support breastfeeding and provide extra nutrition.
Additionally, we launched Happy Baby Organic Infant Formula, which contains key vitamins and nutrients that are found in breast milk, including calcium, vitamin D, iron, zinc, choline and DHA/ARA. More notably, the Happy Family infant formula has up to four times more prebiotics than any other organic infant formula on the US market.
As with all of our products, we used extremely high-quality ingredients based on the ability to positively affect the long-term health of babies.
Images via Happy Family