It wasn't immediately apparent that Shazi Visram, born in Toronto to immigrants from Tanzania and Pakistan, would make her mark in American business.
She cut her teeth in adland, starting the interactive division at Horizon Media in 1999, and later attempted running her own media-buying firm. But it wasn't fulfilling. "I found myself helping brands get the word out and grow and using the internet. It was exciting, and I was learning a lot, but I also didn't feel passionate or ownership over my own work."
So she got her MBA at Columbia University, determined to come out with the tools to build a business of her own. While there, in 2003, she dreamt up Happy Family, an organic-baby-food brand, inspired by a friend's young child. "I knew I could get behind it 100% in terms of what it meant for families, healthy babies and sustainable farmers." During school she put together the basics of a business plan and began networking in the food industry.
Ten years later Happy Family has 53 full-time staffers, 75 "happy mama" brand ambassadors and eight manufacturing facilities in the U.S. And it's just been sold to Danone, which will export the brand around the world. Today, her own tot is a fan. The 3-year-old highly recommends blueberry, apple and purple carrot puree.
Jeans at work?
"Jeans, flip flops, whatever makes everyone happy."
Worked for a movie theater in Birmingham hawking popcorn. Lasted 3 weeks.
One, 3-year-old Zane, who is a major guinea pig for Happy Family products
Willy, aka "an angel dipped in fur." (He's a labradoodle, but scrappy-looking)