If there's one thing that the invention of YouTube gave us, it was solid proof that there is an endless amount of love out there for cute cats (and videos of them doing cute things). Whether you are a pet owner or not, you can appreciate the motivation behind Shabnam's work at From Scratch: the desire to improve the quality of what we, and those we love, are eating.
When did you know that you wanted to work in food?
In 2008 I was fortunate enough to volunteer with the organic farm organization, WWOOF, in Italy. I stayed with my host family and loved how they lived (& enjoyed!) an almost zero waste lifestyle. This included feeding their 3+ cats homemade meals and I witnessed how healthy and happy the little guys were. On my return to NYC, their lifestyle resonated with me and I wanted to instill their lessons into my daily life. This family had healthy, organic food straight from their farm and used it to cook meals for their feline counterparts. Being a CSA member, cooking fresh food at home and living a health-conscious lifestyle was my motto, but I would feed my cat, Kuma, straight from a can or bag of processed, untraceable cat food. The disconnect was astonishing. I thought, why should I live so healthy while a "family member" ate so poorly?
How did you get your current good food job?
My partners and I started From Scratch Pet Food with the vision that our pets were part of the family, and we wouldn't feed junk to our children so why would we feed crap to our cats? We realized there really wasn't anything available that fit our ethical and dietary requirements so we had to start making our own pet food. It eventually became it's own venture and adventure.
How did your previous work or life experience prepare you for a good food job?
I come from a marketing & sales background. Being passionate and believing in our product is the most important tool in selling From Scratch. Its an easy sell when I see the results with my cat, Kuma; shiny coat, less dander and less smelly litter box!
What was the greatest obstacle you had to overcome in pursuing your Good Food Job dream?
Time is one of the biggest obstacles. There is so much to do when you're running your own business, it seems obvious but having the time to get everything done is nearly impossible. Getting to a point where you understand that you can't do everything is the only way to maintain balance.
What can you identify as the greatest opportunities in food right now?
This venture is very exciting for myself and my partners. The food culture of pets is changing and in a good way! There have been one too many food scares and recalls in the industry. Pet owners are being educated on what to feed their pets and have many choices to pick from. We are focusing on cat food as there are not as many options out there for locally made and sourced food that is preservative-free and human grade.
If you could be compensated for your work with something other than money, what would it be?
The incredible feedback we get from our customers and the stories of how we have changed their cat's lives and sometimes their lives through reduced allergies has been incredibly gratifying. Also just knowing we are actually helping our customers and their pets is a great form of compensation.