what's your favorite part of working on i heart keenwah? the creative process. you know, creating new flavors, designing new packaging, brainstorming on future product ideas, coming up with marketing messages. it is very rewarding to be able to take a creative idea and see it through to completion. our product itself was a result of “creative thinking.” the earliest versions of our quinoa cluster snack were developed in my home kitchen. and it’s been an incredible experience to be able to walk into a store like whole foods and see the same product that we developed now being sold on the shelf.
what drives you? the people who enjoy our products. there’s no feeling like interacting with people who love your product and incorporate it into their daily diet. our mission was to make quinoa more accessible to people. and when people tell us that they are now able to use quinoa as a staple ingredient because of our snack, it makes all of our efforts worthwhile.
if you could go back to college, what would you study? to be completely honest, i’d probably study design or architecture. good design is the ultimate form of problem solving. whether it’s a well thought-out building, a game-changing device like the iphone or a cpg product. good design improves lives. it would be fascinating to be able to study the theory behind good design practices.
what's your next big business idea? urban rooftop quinoa farming!
what's one place you have to travel to in the next 10 years and why? i have traveled to many non-traditional places in my life (mongolia, uzbekistan twice!, iceland, bolivia of course), but i have never been to japan. everyone always says japan is 20-years ahead of the western world in terms of technology and design, and i would love to experience it myself.
what are your favorite hobbies outside of keenwah? i have several! i am an avid fan of diy furniture, and many of the items in my new york apartment have been handmade. i am obsessed with film photography and use an arsenal of vintage cameras on a regular basis. i study chinese with weekly classes (5 years already!). i also like to cook.
oh really, what's your favorite dish to cook? i am indian so my best creations are indian food. specifically, i can make a mean version of chana masala (curried chickpeas), complete with tamarind paste, tea leaves, and black salt. my grandmother would be proud. i am super lucky to live where i do now (queens, ny) where i have access to a ton of ethnic grocery stores.
what photograph are you most proud of taking? i took a photo of a crowd at the border closing ceremony on the crossing from india into pakistan (see photo above). the border closes at sundown and is followed by a lively ceremony of the border guards on both sides. a lot of chest puffing and rigorous stomping. the real show is the crowd of locals in the audience, wearing their colorful dress and watching attentively. i love that a good photo can transport you to a specific moment in time, capturing much of the context and emotion in a single frame.
what's one thing that few people know about you? i am a country boy. born and raised in western pennsylvania in a town of 10,000. i spent my childhood chasing bullfrogs and running in the woods.
what is your favorite i heart keenwah flavor and why? my favorite is the almond. that was our first flavor when we launched! the almond quinoa clusters are the least sweet, most pure and crunchiest flavor in our line up. i really dig the natural taste of it.