There’s no question that this has been a challenging time for many as the pandemic has impacted everyone in different ways. Many have learned more about themselves, including how to pivot and adjust to changing circumstances. When it comes to being an entrepreneur, there’s never a good time to embark on your life’s dream but that’s part of the journey. For Parisa Shendi, her time to become a baker was now and she wasn’t going to let a pandemic stop her. As the owner and founder of Sweetzi, she specializes in making vegan pastries as well as providing gluten and dairy-free options. Whether she’s making cakes or cookies, Shendi has just what you need to satisfy that sweet tooth. The newly minted entrepreneur took time away from her desserts in order to talk to The Edge about her new venture and using LinkedIn as a place to spread her affirmations.
How was starting your own business like for you and why did you choose baking?
My mom and my aunt are professional bakers [and] when I was a child, I always had this dream of having my own bakery when I grew up. I was helping [my mom and aunt] and they taught me everything from A to Z and making goodies that are healthy for our bodies and don’t bring harm to the planet—that was always my concern.
[Two] years ago, I moved to Canada. I started working as a baker and I had so many customers that were vegan or had special diets, so creating recipes that are vegan and so tasty comes from there.
I always wanted to have my own business and bring value to people’s lives and during the pandemic, I lost my job and I was looking for jobs 24/7. After eight months of looking, I received nothing so it was [at] that moment for me that I decided this is the time and I should start what I have always dreamed of and take action for it.
Did you ever have any doubts before launching your own business?
Definitely, yes. I was in a realm where I was already lost and confused about what I should do with my life in this chaos. Every day, I was fighting my doubts and fears [that] were trying to stop me but I fought them back and faced them. I declared their existence, but I reminded myself that I am strong, unstoppable and I’m going to take baby steps. [I’m going to] take calculated risks [and] make sure I do my homework very well so there is no doubt left.
How has Covid impacted your business and any goals or plans you had for its future?
Well actually, Covid was the reason I started and [it] grew the motivation in me. I was in a very challenging [place in my life] and I had to find a way not only to survive but to take actions for my dreams to come true and reach my goals.
Being an entrepreneur has its challenges on many levels—some are noticeable and some aren’t. Have you ever felt that being a woman of colour has somehow stood in the way of accomplishing any goals?
For sure there [are] always challenges and so many details for starting a business. But being a woman is not a challenge at all, exactly opposite. I personally don’t really believe in separating the genders. I believe in humanity and no matter whether [you’re a] man or woman, you are human with the same ability and capability. We are powerful and we can create everything that we wish to have in our lives and our surroundings.
Given the world’s political climate right now and dealing with a pandemic, it can be hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. What made you so motivational and positive on LinkedIn and how do you live up to your own words?
Oh [this is] my favourite question so far! All my life, I tried to be a better version of myself, every day.
Oprah was always my role model and I wanted to be someone like her, to impact people’s lives in the best way and guide them through different paths that I have been on myself one day. I participated in so many self-development courses [and] seminars [and have] read related books to develop who I am and who I want to be.
I grew up in a country where women’s rights are the least [important] thing.
So that being said, there was a strong motivation for me to prove that women are strong and they can do anything that men do.
All my life I [have fought] for it and know that there are so many women out there that need to hear that they are strong, powerful and unstoppable.
As everybody knows, the pandemic was so challenging and even though I am a very positive person, [I’m] still human and there were a few months that I was just looking for a job and so many other things were on my plate, which made me [feel] so lost. I couldn’t even focus on myself, but one day I woke up and realized, “This is not me. I am the possibility of power. Trust and [be] brave,” so I started looking for solutions for those obstacles.
Meanwhile, I started my LinkedIn account and I had a meeting with someone from LinkedIn. [He] told me I can share my story because it’s interesting and companies are looking for real people who are hardworking, genuine and positive like [me].
So then I started sharing and I was so impressed by people’s reactions and how welcoming they are and how my experiences could help so many people.
I never even thought that I would be able to record myself and share my experiences and things I learnt through my journey. It is a blessing for me to impact lives in any way that I can.
Now may not seem like the best time to start a business but that hasn’t stopped many in the past. Do you have any tips or advice for those looking to become entrepreneurs at this time?
It is definitely a different and challenging time for entrepreneurs for sure.
But there are a few things I think people who want to start should really know and think about it.
What are their goals, dreams and passions? So for getting there, there is only one thing you need and that’s you.
Who do [you] want to be [in] order to achieve those dreams and goals?
I can’t insist more on the second question. That’s the most important place to start because if you don’t know that or didn’t figure that out yet, doing a lot of work does not take you there, but you will.
And remember if you are sure about those two questions, you better find a very open-minded circle that [is] on the same page as you are. Not everybody will understand you or relate to you. But you are different, you are unique and when you share it with people that are not on the same page that you are, you are receiving nothing but frustration, discouragement and [you may] end up not starting your dream. Last but not the least: everything’s possible!
Dontei Wynter| Staff Writer