Qatari Entrepreneurs GHANIM AL-SULAITI and JAWAHER AL-FARDAN talk everything motivation and business in our exclusive interview about Evergreen Organics and NIYA Yoga…
What is the most common question that you get asked about being vegan?
A lot of people ask me “How did you do it?” and my answer would be that I’ve had to read a lot, research about it and meet people from all over the world to fully understand this lifestyle. It took a year to actually fully transition into veganism. However, believing in it is the key. Seeing the results and impact it had on my body, life and my mind was mind-blowing.
What motivates and inspires you throughout your business day?
It might sound funny but mainly plants, that’s the reason why Evergreen is filled with more than 900 indoor plants. I get my inspiration by just staring at them or surrounding myself with greenery, they give me good energy and help me open up my mind to new things and of course being creative. Another thing that really inspires me is music. I love listening to good music as it brings out deep feelings.
How did you feel when you initially started telling people about Evergreen Organics?
Opening Evergreen is my proudest moment, I couldn’t stop telling people about it, sharing it with everyone on social media. I think Evergreen gave me a huge platform to show people what I really learned during my journey to a healthier me. It brings every inspiring element in my journey in one place, So evergreen is my home more than just a cafe.
What tips or advice would you give someone who would like to embrace a healthy or indeed a healthier lifestyle?
I always would encourage people to be more conscious of what goes into their bodies, asking questions, being aware and attentive to their surroundings. And always thinking of why we are eating this, what is the real reason behind it, trying to dig deeper in our history and culture but keeping in mind that we live in a world that everything is possible and alternatives do exist we are not in survival mode anymore, or at least not yet.
What has been your greatest obstacle to overcome with Evergreen Organics? Why?
The hardest thing was to source all the organic ingredients and produce, speaking to farms, making new collaborations with new suppliers, dealing with all the nitty and gritty of the importing processes, but I think it was all worth it as its something that we deeply believe in at Evergreen, which is to serve the best ingredients out there. I don’t want to consume things that are not organically grown so I only serve organic produce in my cafe.
How has Qatar embraced its first 100% vegan café?
Qatar was ready for us. The day of the opening we were full within five minutes of opening our doors. The community has been our biggest supporter, believing and trusting us, the governmental entities have also supported us during our first year. Since the day we opened we have met hundreds of vegans and local vegans who live in Doha and it was a surprise to see that they do exist in our community but aren’t necessarily vocal about it. Evergreen was evidently needed a long time ago but I guess this was the time for it to see the light.
Are there any upcoming projects that you would like to tell us about?
Currently Evergreen is currently undergoing a massive expansion. We are opening our Centralised Kitchen by the first quarter of 2018 which will help us reach a bigger audience and supply our delicious healthy food to supermarkets and much more places.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I love running , traveling, and defiantly being around my friends and loved ones.
Where is your favourite place to visit in Qatar? Why?
This is definitely not me saying this, but of course Evergreen is my favourite place in Doha. but if I had to choose somewhere else, I would say anywhere where there is nature and greenery
Your favourite quote?
If you want to be happy plant a garden, if you want to be healthy eat a garden.
How and why did you start Yoga?
I started yoga as a form of exercise. I was also studying psychology at the time and quickly noticed the amazing mental effects of yoga on stress and self awareness, and was drawn to learning more about the teachings. The deeper I got into it, the more I realized that this was something I was always meant to do, to heal myself and others.
Who was your great mentor/teacher?
Everyone is a teacher to me. People I meet in the streets, my family, my actual teachers and colleagues. Nature is a great teacher to me too. e more mindful you become, the more you begin to see lessons and guidance from everyone and everything around you.
Tell us your practice style and how did you choose your yoga method?
My practice has evolved so much in the past few years and I believe it will continue to do so depending on what my mind and body needs at any given time. I teach vinyasa yoga, and I’m definitely more drawn to that style as it gives me a bit more freedom to express myself in a non linear kind of way. I also love deep meditations, mantra chanting, Kundalini and free flow. A few years ago I would’ve said Ashtanga and acro yoga. The body will always tell you what it wants, we just need to tune in and listen.
What obstacles has yoga helped you overcome?
Yoga teaches you how to deal with obstacles themselves, rather than a specific situation. So instead of panicking or getting myself out of something challenging, it teaches me to breathe, clear my mind, analyze the situation and respond in a mindful manner. Of course, this is an ongoing process rather than a finishing line.
When did you first understand that you wanted to be a yoga teacher?
The moment I tried my first class around 12 years ago. I didn’t know when or how, I just knew that this was my calling.
What is the most rewarding part of being a yoga teacher?
Changing other people’s lives, to any extent whatsoever. If they walk out of my class feeling better, relaxed, relieved, connected; then I know I’ve succeeded. Building and connecting a mindful community is a beautiful thing to watch and be a part of too.
Why is yoga important for the times we are living in?
Our minds are working overtime in today’s world. We are all suffering from a collective Attention Deficit Disorder due to the fast paced lives we all lead juggling our focus from the present moment, to past, future, work, personal, social media, family, and social lives. at is a lot to handle and fully absorb (if even possible). Yoga gives us the tools to slow down and clear the mind, check in with the breath, and prioritize ourselves and our own wellbeing first. It also hugely improves posture from long hours sitting by a desk, blood circulation caused by a lack of intuitive movement, and our physiological stress response pathways. How does it feel being the co-owner of Evergreen Organics? Amazing! I work with an incredible team of passionate individuals in an amazing space. I love being a part of such a great initiative to bring awareness to eating habits and connecting with nature and plants in Qatar. Also, the tasting sessions are just pure love.
Where is your favourite place to visit in Qatar? Why?
The beach. We have incredible beaches all over our beautiful coastline so I can’t specify which one I like best. Each is magical in its own unique way and I’m extremely grateful to have access to these gifts all year round! Evergreen Organics and Niya Yoga are high up on that list too. I always feel a sense of calm whenever I’m there whether for work or not. the spaces are filled with purpose. I love that.
Your favourite quote?
Create the things you wish existed.