Ketchup? How positively gauche.
Sriracha? Closer, but too red.
If your go-to condiments are starting to wear thin, you might want to take a look at a local startup that’s churning out a “magic green sauce.” Maazah Chutney, founded by sisters Yasameen and Sheilla Sajady, is a blend of cilantro, ginger, garlic, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, jalapeno and salt. According to the company, the sauce compliments anything from pizza to fish. Culinary versatility, thy name is Maazah.
When the sisters started out, they were making just 30 bottles. These days (and after a boost from participating in Lunar Startups’ Cohort 2), they’ve expanded production to 800 bottle runs. That’s a lot of magic. That’s a lot of green. And that’s a lot of sauce.
This is A Workday With Yasameen Sajady, CEO and founder of Maazah.
Tell us a little about your background and how you got to where you are today.
I studied business at Augsburg University for my undergrad and returned for the MBA program, graduating in June 2020. My professional career has been in the non-profit sector with a focus on social enterprise. My passion has always been uncovering how/why/what the special sauce of successful businesses is, especially those that do more for the community than just give a percent of profits.
I come from a family of small-business owners. My parents, aunties, uncles, cousins — it’s just in our DNA. We started [Maazah] in my sister’s kitchen four years ago making 30 bottles at a time. Since then, we’ve expanded our production to 800 bottle runs. The balance of this saucy side hustle with day jobs, kitchen production, and farmers markets has gotten us this far, but we know we will have to scale up even more to take on America’s palate. We want to be right up there with Sriracha and ketchup as the next kick-ass condiment.
What time do you rise and shine?
What do you usually eat for breakfast?
Coffee with two over-medium eggs and avocado toast with Maazah Chutney :)
What’s the first work-related task you tackle each morning?
What is your workspace setup?
Yasameen with her sister and co-founder, Sheilla, at their shared Lunar Startups workspace.
What’s the most interesting/fun/meaningful thing on your desk?
Probably coffee and the window. I spend a lot of time staring out this window.
What’s one piece of tech you can’t live without?
What do you need to get done before lunch to feel like you had a productive morning?
The couple of items on my list of to-dos that I don’t really want to do.
What are you listening to these days?
Lots and lots of ladies. Ari Lennox, SZA, Kehlani, Fatima, H.E.R, Ella Mai, Cleo Sol, Janelle, and always Sharon Jones.
What is your current TV obsession?
The revisited “Curb Your Enthusiasm” in preparation for the new season.
What’s the last movie you saw and what would you rate it (out of five stars)?
Aladdin (the animated version). I have a nephew who’s obsessed. 5 out of 5.
What book would we find on your nightstand?
“The Entrepreneur’s Guide To Keeping Your Sh*t Together” by Sherry Walling. She’s also the founder of “Zen Founder” podcast which I highly recommend.
“The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers” by Ben Horowitz.
And of course the revolving stack of Havard Business Review articles I need to read for my program.
Cats or dogs?
Yasameen’s cats, Thelma and Lousie.
What are you currently rockin’ as your phone background?
My adorable nephew.
The best part about living in Minnesota is…
The outdoors in all the seasons! I love getting out on the lake for a paddle or swim.
What do you use to stay organized during a hectic day?
I’m old school — lists and G Suite.
What’s a recent work-related challenge you had to conquer? Walk us through your process.
Adding new flavors to our product line has been a long time coming. We’ve done research on flavor trends, talked through old family recipes, cooked and taste-tested so, so many chutneys. And of course with three sisters and our Mom, we’re all very honest with each other and say what we think. So, it’s taken a little longer than expected. Finally, Summer 2020 we’ll have new flavors to launch!
What’s one thing everyone could do to be more productive?
Stop doing eight things at once.
What’s the last work-related thing you do every day?
Double check my calendar.
How do you decompress at the end of a long workday?
Cook and enjoy a delicious meal.
What time do you usually hit the hay?
Top Photo: Lauren Schneck from Tucker Fox Co.
If there’s a community thought leader or founder who you’d like to see featured in our “A Workday With…” series, contact us on Twitter @TECHdotMN or email [email protected] with the subject line “A Workday With… Submission.”
Have you checked out the other founders featured in the series?