Afshan Syed wears many vibrant hats and her ability to juggle so much lies deeply in her motto: “I need to manifest productivity to really feel like I’ve accomplished what I am capable of. Sure, productivity is not the only key to success, but it is a big leap towards it.”
Not only is this Qatar-based superwoman a full-time mum to four beautiful children, she is also the founder of the nut butter brand, ‘Go Nuts Qatar’, as well as the proud chef at Ideal Diet – a Keto based programme that caters especially to those attempting to kick carbohydrates out of their day-to-day life.
But like many entrepreneurs, Afshan is not an overnight success. In fact, her story begins thousands of miles away in Mumbai, India where she was born before shortly moving with her family to Doha. Aside from studying Psychology at a University in Bangalore for three years, Afshan has spent 31 years in the ever-evolving Qatari capital. Her husband is also an expat kid, and fortunately for them, both of their families live within reach in the Middle East.
Cooking became a fun pastime for Afshan in high school, but it was only one year ago when she braved the bite to take on the role of Keto Chef at Ideal Diet. “I absolutely love food and experimenting with it. My sister once said I have a twinkle in my eye and a smile on my face when I’m cooking. Being a chef helps me work on the things I love and enjoy, so I am very blessed,” she excitedly told Doha News.
But even seven years before becoming a Keto chef, Afshan embarked on the nut butter path where she created and launched her brands ‘Go Nuts Qatar’. Business ambitions aside, Afshan said it was her role as a mum that actually inspired the launch of her brand. “I wanted my family to eat healthy as a first step towards a healthier lifestyle. I learnt that popular hazelnut and chocolate spreads were high on palm oil and sugar. With that in mind, I researched foods that have high kids acceptance. I didn’t want healthy food to be boring and stumbled upon nut butters.”
With the support of her husband as a taste tester, who motivated Afshan to share her nut butters with others, the couple began by first sharing the new product with family and friends – many of whom requested jars of the healthy alternative snack for their kids. Before she knew it, ‘Go Nuts Qatar’ soon spread across the Gulf state and became a thriving business.“You know you are successful when you have repeat customers – at home and outside. What gives me pride is the fact that people say, ‘I’ll take the usual’ and I know I’ve become part of their wellness routines. That gives me joy,” she said.
Despite the success, Afshan said, she faced her harshest critics right at home in her own kitchen – all of whom helped her perfect the recipe. Now, she noted, her kids proudly gloat to their friends.
But Afshan’s intense desire to maintain pace both in her life and business inspires her to keep productivity as a mum, chef, and business owner. Having a support system of family and friends, especially her husband, inspires her to not only fulfill her multiple roles, but to also thrive during her journey. This has deeply motivated Afshan to be a woman in search of quality over all else and her deep drive is prevalent in her excitement to be a mother, her rich nut butters, and every delicious meal that she lovingly creates at her workplace.
Like many ‘mumpreneurs’ Afshan says motherhood defines her identity, noting her life passionately revolves around her children. With four kids range in age from preteen (12) to toddler (three), Afshan says each one has different needs, which naturally, can leave her feeling drained.
Afshan says, “It really takes a village to raise children. Listening to children express the way they see the world is definitely the most fun part.. My eldest now calls me “bro” and has an opinion on all my work. My youngest likes to copy everything I do. I absolutely cherish both stages and I find myself constantly sharing their anecdotes with my family. Children bring so much joy in our lives, there is never a dull moment with them around.”
However, she says, “I am constantly torn between the joy of having kids and the stress of ruining the world for their generation. Above everything, I want my kids to be proud of me. I’m always aware of the fact that they watch, observe, and learn.”
Although Afshan is conscious of her influential role as a mum for her children, she also recognises the simple things that symbolise motherhood. “On a lighter note, motherhood is defined by cold and unfinished meals, loss of personal space and privacy, as well as lots and lots of joy, hugs, giggles and irreplaceable memories,” she says.
“There are no right circumstances to become an entrepreneur – you just go for it.”
As for inspirational advice for mums that would like to embark upon creating their own business, Afshan advises you to go for it.
“When you have an idea, it is normal to think of risks and ‘what if’s’, but think of how much you’ll lose if you don’t bring your dream to reality,” she says.
“There are no right circumstances to become an entrepreneur – you just go for it. Your growth is the fuel you need to encourage you to greater heights. Of course, I would strongly suggest surrounding yourself with supportive people who are invested in your well-being and who will cheer you on. This surely makes the journey rich.”
With her zest for life, genuine gratitude for her blessings and continued dedication to build, Afshan continues to maintain her goals while also motivating others along the way. As a mum, entrepreneur, and passionate chef, Afshan’s laser-focused mindset and drive to stand as a role model for her four children is the reason she bears the beautiful fruit of her efforts.
For an added dose of inspiration, visit Afshan’s blog to learn more about how she juggles motherhood and entrepreneurship.
Chereen Shurafa is a Doha based community counsellor, writer, and certified change coach. She is the founder of “Dear Chereen”, an online platform dedicated to mindfulness, mental health, and inspiration.