Maya Lau is the creator, host and executive producer of the podcast, Other People’s Pockets, produced by Pushkin Industries and Little Everywhere. She's an award-winning former investigative reporter for The…
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At just 23, Sana Javeri Kadri founded a company that exploded an old-world colonialist industry – the spice trade. This small business owner who lives between India and California is testing the theory: Can you be an ethical, fair-paying boss, and still turn a profit?
What are we capable of without their help really? Are our own community is going to show up for this business? The answer was yes.
Imagine you just graduated from college, and you have a random curiosity that starts out like an art project, but in a few years becomes a really successful industry disrupting career. Sana Javeri Kadri did that.
My name is Sana Javeri Kadri. I am the founder of Diaspora Co., which is a single origin space company.
She noticed the hype around turmeric, like turmeric lattes and whatnot, and started to question, "Where does our turmeric come from, and is it sourced ethically?" She answered those questions by starting Diaspora Co. I was curious, how did she take her hobby to market and how did she figure out what fair pay looks like for herself, her team, and her firm partners?
I'm Maya Lau, and this is Other People's Pockets, the show where I ask people about their money, so the questions we all have about how much other people make and how their finances work can be a little bit less of a mystery. Thanks again for doing this. I'm so excited.
Yeah, I'm really excited to be here and chat about money.
First, tell me about your company Diaspora Co. How and why did you create this company?
Yeah. I am the founder of Diaspora Co., and I founded it in 2017, really because I felt like there was an opportunity to critically look at the spice trade as it's existed for thousands of years, and burn it to the ground and rebuild it in a way that was equitable and thoughtful and more delicious. And so, this company was initially kind of a very idealistic art project about growing a better spice trade and what that meant, and then that's grown into a legit business that trades many millions of dollars all over the world.
Tell me the actual story of how you founded Diaspora Co.
Yeah. In 2016, I was working in SF, in food marketing, and I was noticing that there was beautiful produce being sourced. You knew exactly where your gorgeous peaches came from or your tomatoes came from. But then, when it came to the ethnic food aisle, which is an outdated aisle in of itself, things were usually sourced really badly. When I was asking chefs, businesses, grocery stores where their spices in particular were coming from, they had absolutely no answer for me and were giving me very vague, strange answers. It usually deeply irritated me.
So in 2017, I embarked on a little bit of a research project to be like, "Okay. Everybody seems to be into turmeric. Where is America's turmeric coming from? Most likely it's coming from India. Great. Who is growing it? How much money are they making? How is it being grown? Is it actually ethically grown and sourced?" That deep dive made me realize that the spice trade hadn't changed in a very long time, and that the product that people were seeing on American grocery store shelves was stale, outdated, tasteless, badly sourced, full of pesticides.
It kind of set off this mission to grow a better spice trade and see what it took to build a supply chain from scratch, where farmers were being paid equitably, they were growing really beautiful heirloom seeds of spice varieties that were grown specifically for their flavors and their aromas. And then, consumers who were excited home cooks that wanted to know exactly where their spices were coming from, who grew it. Building that supply chain has kind of been the thrilling, chaotic four years of our life for my life, and we've grown significantly. We've added on a team. Today, we source 30 spices from almost 200 farms now across India and Sri Lanka, and soon Pakistan and Bhutan.
I remember the only time I've been to a spice farm was in Zanzibar, and I had the total experience of, my whole life, I've just interacted with spices as these ground up-
... powders in the supermarket. It was so enlightening to be like, "Oh, the different plants that these spices grow from all look completely different." When you were researching that, did you have moments of, "Holy shit, I did not know that this is how nutmeg looks when it's being grown, and then coriander looks different"?
What did that look like for you?
Yeah. I think initially when I first realized, "Oh, coriander's literally the seed of the coriander leaf or the coriander plant. Whoa, duh." There was a lot of moments like that, or the fact that saffron is actually the stigma off a flower. I think that's been a big part of our marketing efforts of showing people on the packaging, on our website that, "You see this little jar of powder? Well, this is the plant that it came from. That's crazy." People love that.
I mean, part of it is that you are actually paying your farm partners fairly, right?
And that that hasn't been part of what has happened in the spice trade in the past.
Yeah. I mean, historically, the spice trade has existed for thousands of years, but its most recent rendition was under colonialism, British, Portuguese, French, Dutch, all of the above, where the purpose of the spice trade was for exorbitant profits to the colonizers. That meant that the farmers and the traders in between made no money. The farmers really made the worst deal. And 150 years later, we discovered that nothing about that system had really changed. And so, the business became an exercise in how can we hand over price making to the farmers and say, "Hey, what do you need to make this a viable business? If that's X amount, we'll build our cost of goods and we'll build the rest of our business on top of that price. Whatever it takes for you to get us the most delicious product, that price is our base."
How much do you pay your farm partners?
On average, we are paying six X the commodity price. The commodity price is a price that's kind of set based on demand and supply market factors, but it's also influenced by hundreds of years of oppression. And so, we find that the commodity price is largely a useless price for regenerative, sustainable agriculture that really takes care of people. Fair trade or a fair trade price is unfortunately only, in spices, a 15% premium on top of the commodity price. Let's say the commodity price is 100 rupees or maybe $1, then the fair trade price would be $1.15, which is not nearly enough to fix a system. And so, we're usually paying $6 on average, our weighted average as a company. Those are numbers that we publish, that we make public, is six x the commodity price.
You're saying that $6. $6 for what exactly?
For the same kilogram of spice.
Okay. Got it.
It sounds like your farm partners tell you, "Here's what it costs for us to do this." But how do you also figure out what is a living wage to them? In the US some people would say, "Oh, a living wage is $17 an hour," but that may not really be a living wage to a lot of people. How do you figure out what that is, and what is it in dollars, if you can say?
Yeah. It's two part. One with our farm partners, they're the founder, they're me. They are the people who own the land and run the business, and they look at their labor costs, they look at their water bill, and they'll come up with a price that feels like they'll make a profit and they'll be able to replant the next year without having to take on a loan. So, it's enough money, their harvest will give them enough money such that they will have cash flow and cash in hand to get them to the next harvest.
But when we're talking about living wages, then the conversation really becomes about, "Well, what are the farm workers making?" Because when you're talking about a worker, that's the workers who are working on our farm partner's farms, and the average price similar to what we would consider a minimum wage here is 300 rupees a day. That's about $4.16 per day is the minimum. Not even minimum, it's kind of the average daily farm worker price. Most of our farm workers, we have convinced them or they have convinced themselves over years working with us and because of the premium, they're actually giving their workers 500 rupees a day, which is $6.90, which is a significant increase in addition usually to a place to stay and food.
I think that part of our model has a lot of room for growth. I don't think that we are in a place where I think that we, or really anybody out there, are leaders in farm worker equity in terms of pay. It's very similar to migrant labor here in the US, where it's a complicated and inequitable system. I think the move to giving farm workers the right to organize, giving them the right to become salaried workers, make overtime would be really, really powerful, but that's a agricultural revolution that's yet to happen, honestly.
Right. If the farm partners you had did, and I don't know, maybe they do, but if they unionized or if they had more power, would that pose a problem for your business financially?
Our margins, ultimately, we're also in the business of getting those spices all the way across the world, packaging them, shipping them out to customers. We have plenty of other costs that are bigger variables than just raw materials. So, I think it would mean that we would have to find other places to save money, or maybe we would've to increase our prices, but I don't think it would break the model. The model is based on deepening and growing equity and building a better system. So if this makes a system better, we'll change our model and make it work.
I love that because there's been so many restaurants that have struggled under COVID, and there's been an argument though that if they're struggling, it's in part because they were based on a bad model to begin with.
They relied on paying workers shit. That's not really a model to have your business based on, because you can't just rely on workers not having power.
100%. I mean, I think I loved seeing Kachka, the restaurant in Portland's latest press release about how they're moving to a worker-owned model. They're going to profit share, and they're getting rid of tipping. All of those things feel like the future of food and a labor system that feels more fair. I think, for us, we're dealing with things on a transcontinental level, where as much as we're responding to and excited by what's happening in the US, there's very different things happening in India right now. Actually given the pandemic, it's allowed a lot of businesses to justify, quote, unquote, pandemic wages in India, where people are still working but making half of their wage. Sometimes, that's gone on for two years or more.
What I'm seeing in India is actually the opposite of that right now, where I'm seeing workers and the working class working more or just as hard for half the money under the guise of, "Oh, there's a crisis. We can't pay you," and you're so desperate for the money that you'll accept it. I mean, I'm really hopeful that stops and workers aren't taken for granted the same way anymore.
You've started this business and grown it with a lot of vision and big ideas and forward thinking. And at the same time, a business also comes down to spreadsheets and just the dollars and cents. What have you had to learn about money and the financials of actually running a business?
Everything. My first business plan was a pie chart, which tells you how little I knew about business or money or spreadsheets. The only way I was able to look at a spreadsheet was if I turned them rainbow-colored, so then it was fun. Especially as a woman who was kind of told, "Oh, you don't have to be that good in math. It's okay. You're more artistic," and it was not encouraged, it's been very empowering to realize the power of a spreadsheet and how empowering it can me to understand how it all works and actually where money is coming in and out. It's scary information, but it's also very valuable and powerful information.
What are the things you wish you'd known more going into it about financial literacy?
I think a big one was realizing that people borrow money in order to buy inventory. I was so naive coming into the industry that I felt tremendous guilt and loss and terror when we would sell a run of a product. Let's say we would sell 5,000 jars of a product, and then I'd be like, "Well, I don't have money for more. How do I do that?" I felt like my business model had failed somehow or I'd done something wrong. It was only years later that I was like, "Oh, everybody has that problem. That's where financing comes in." Little things like that of, "Oh, that's how all the big kids do it. It's not meant to be this hard." Those things would've been really valuable.
Yeah, I mean, I kind of have dreams sort of starting a business. I think it would be really cool. But then, it really intimidates me to think of how do I even have employees and guarantee that they're going to get paid and that they have health insurance. Where do you learn about all of that? Do you have mentors? Do you have people that you can call to be like, "Can you just explain to me how this is going to work?"
Yeah. I have a very smart little brother, and he is a big source of help where I can be like... I am the creative visual human, and he's the finance nuts and boltsy human and has been doing my math homework for years and years. And so, working with him, not working but having a relationship with him has taught me to never be afraid to ask really stupid questions and constantly. And so, I definitely have always gone to people who I admire and been like, "I'm going to ask you a very specific pointed question about how you do something, and I would love if you could share." Most of the time, people are so disarmed and appreciative that it's a specific thing that they can help with, rather than a general can I suck up some of your time that they're willing to help. So, I think I've definitely created a network of people that I can text or call and be like, "Well, how does this work? How are you calculating your gross margin? What does that mean?"
But then I also think with the employees and all the big scary parts, there is a part of me that feels like I just have founder brain, which is that I'm a little bit, I have magical thinking and I don't really think through these bigger, scary things. I'm better at just jumping in and figuring it out. There's definitely risk associated with that, and I think you can use that attitude only so far. And then, I think maybe at the stage that we're at now, my founder brain of just jumping from one lily pad to the next without considering the repercussions of like, "Will we be able to make payroll?" Are riskier and I probably shouldn't do them.
But luckily at this point, I've hired people who are much smarter than me, who can handle some of that stuff and be like, "Oh, based on these sales forecast, we will not make payroll. So, we should sell something, or we need to get a loan or something." I think I'm all for jump in for the first couple years, take risks, make big mistakes, fail fast, which is also something that you have to have a significant amount of privilege to be able to do, of course. And then, quickly realize what you're not good at and where you need help to de-risk things.
A lot of that does take, you mentioned the privilege you had. What did that look like financially? Because I know that you started the company with about $3,000 that you had in tax refund. You got an $8,000 loan from your dad, but I'm sure you still had living expenses. How did you float yourself financially during those early months or years?
Yeah. For the first two years, I wasn't working on Diaspora full time. For the first year, I moved into a co-op that was truly horrible, and it was 12 people, two bathrooms. The only reason I did that was to bring my living cost as low as humanly possible. We shared food. I think my rent was 500 bucks a month including food, because we bought groceries and one person cooked every night. When I was starting to ask [inaudible 00:17:51] I wanted to get my overhead as low as humanly possible, so I think I got it to the point where I needed $1,200 a month in order to live and live fine. Me and my bike and the co-op were keeping me afloat. That meant that, and I didn't have any savings. I was too young and not smart enough for that. So, I was working as a line cook at a restaurant in our neighborhood. And then, I was also photographing and doing event photography on the side.
Obviously, having the skill of photography was huge, where I wasn't just reliant on my restaurant income. The restaurant was pretty much paying for all of my living costs, like that full 1,200 plus my therapy bill, which is kind of my most expensive expense. And then, any photography income was money that I could then put directly into Diaspora Co. for something like a small production run or jars or things like that. That went on for a long time. That went on until 2019. I really took the leap of working full-time on Diaspora towards the end of 2019, when we were founded in fall 2017, because I just needed to see payoff. I needed to see revenue that made it worthwhile and made it make sense.
After that, I think I started taking enough for 2019 to throw in 2020. I took enough money from Diaspora to pay my rent once I start working at the restaurant. At this point, I had caved and moved out of the co-op just because I couldn't humanly do it anymore. And then, my photography was kind of covering any other living expenses on top of that. And then by early 2020, I started making a nominal Diaspora Co. Salary. That's kind of the nuts and bolts, but it's very, very important to mention that my parents in Mumbai are wealthy and upper class. Without knowing that, yeah, worst comes to worst, I call it and move back to Mumbai. Without that safety net, I would not have been able to do this. There's no way.
My partner does not come from the same level of wealth at all and has had a very different trajectory and has to put themselves through undergrad and grad school. It's been really an enlightening process for me to realize how much privilege it took to start this business.
Thank you for sharing that, because I think it's so important to hear. It's one thing when people just say, "Oh, you started Diaspora Co. with $3,000 in seed money," and that's it. It's like no, there's so much more to the story. You mentioned that your parents in Mumbai, where you grew up, are wealthy, and the name of your company references the fact that you've straddled different cultures. You went to college in the US, you live part-time in Oakland, as I understand it, and still part-time in Mumbai. What kind of messages about money and wealth did you internalize growing up, and then how did that also translate to the US context and to what you're doing now?
That's such a good question, because I think for a long time, that mistranslation between the US and India and how I made sense in one context and didn't make sense in the other was my primary source of anxiety and angst in life. I grew up in India knowing that I was upper class, that I was wealthy, I went to the best schools. We lived in a highrise apartment, a beautiful one with a swimming pool. I knew what my life was, and I knew that most of our conversations as a family were around, "Well, what good are you going to do in the world? How are you going to be of service? How are you going to use your privilege for good?" That was my childhood of being very aware of that.
I think when I came to America, I was baffled because suddenly I was told that I was a woman of color and a minority, and I was experiencing racism for the first time. On one hand, I had a ton of privilege. On the other hand, I didn't because I was a immigrant and it was complicated, and I probably made a lot of missteps too in that translation of how does my privilege, what does that footprint look like here. One of the advantages of it, I think, was that, in America, I translated to women of color, immigrant, okay, you must have had this really hard life. We're going to make a ton of assumptions about you and your background. But I had an entitlement because I grew up upper class where I was, actually, these are all of the things I think I deserve. I was able to put on not my inner Karen or white lady, but I was able to put on my inner rich Mumbai auntie to be like, "This is what I would like." It was very valuable.
You probably weren't prepared to live in the co-op forever.
No, I was not. It was a disaster in that co-op. But it meant that especially in wealthy white spaces, I was really able to succeed because I brought all of the entitlement and class privilege, even if it didn't translate into dollars, it translated into attitude and what I felt entitled to ask for and how I showed up. I'm getting into confused, angsty territory with this, but all that to say, I think the privilege did track and I've had to reconcile with the fact that ultimately I'm a rich kid who is trying to just use that privilege in decent ways.
Did your parents actually sit you down and teach you anything about money, or tell you how to, I don't know, invest or anything like that?
No, they were very open about money though. My parents have always kept their money separate. They don't share money, they don't have a joint account. We always knew who paid, which parent paid which phone bill, which parent paid for whose fees. I think that was maybe the biggest money takeaway that my brother and I took from our childhood was like, they had a very unconventional marriage, especially in India where money is kept separate between husband and wife, or spouses, and I think both my brother and I really admired that about them and we're like, "Wow." It gave my mom full autonomy to spend money however the hell she wanted, and then gave my dad to spend money however he wanted. It showed us how differently they spent money and how differently they prioritized things, and also showed us how if they had shared it, there likely would've been tremendous conflict, that they prevented by keeping it separate.
Yeah, that's really interesting. Again, because you've straddled different cultures and there's kind of different definitions of class in all of them, what class do you consider yourself to be in now?
I mean, I think I identify as upper class. I think it would be kidding myself to not say that. I own a home, I'm 28 years old, definitely upper class
Actually, it's very rare for people to say that. People who are in the 1% often still say like, "Oh, I'm middle class, or I'm upper middle class." What does it feel like to come out and say that?
No, I mean, I think in India, you're so aware of it. It's so obvious that to not say it here feels disingenuous or feels wrong. I mean, I know that I have friends who are swilling theirs, were way more upper class, but I also know that I have more savings than 99% of America or whatever the majority of the country. I don't know. It feels like the right thing to do.
One of the also really interesting things about your company is, including yourself, the people who run your company are all queer women of color under 30. Has that ever been difficult in terms of dealing with the financial system and the conservative bank people who you might want to get loans from, or even just being taken seriously in the spice industry in general?
Absolutely, all the time. I mean, it's an industry that's full of men, usually white men, older white men. We don't look like any of them. I think in the early days, it was really hard and I had to fake all kinds of things. I lied about my age for years. I made up stories about having an imaginary husband for years. I had enough stacked against me showing up on these farms as a queer woman of color that I wasn't trying to make my life harder. I was just like, "Do whatever you got to do to get the job done."
I think now it's different, but I think it became an exercise in what are we capable of without their help really and without them. Can we take care of us? Is our own community is going to show up for this business and going to show up for what our dreams are with this business? The answer was yes. The people that believed in the fact that both all of our work ethics and our cultural backgrounds and what we brought to the table was more than enough, if not absolutely legendary and unprecedented. Our communities showed up in droves and it's worked. I think, at this point now, we have enough clout that our identities and in any way that might disservice us because of the world we live in doesn't matter as much.
That's awesome. Can you say how much you make from your business?
Yeah. As of last year, I make about $120,000.
How did you arrive at that amount?
I bought a house, and I needed to pay my mortgage, and I needed to buy groceries. I just counted those two things up. At least for now, I support myself and my partner, so I was like, "What is my mortgage plus our grocery bill plus a little bit of savings that'll get us to a good point for the next few years without.. And balancing not wanting to take too much money away from the company?" So, it was a balance of those two things.
How much does your company do in sales every year?
We closed last year at nearly 3 million.
I don't know enough about how business financials work, but is the salary that you're making considered low for what your company is bringing in, middle high?
I think it's considered pretty middle of the road. Most CEOs of friends and family in the industry make significantly more than I do, if roughly the same amount. Because I think where we're at with CPG businesses is that the size of your business, and honestly, even the profitability. I don't know that I agree with this model, but this is where I feel like the moment is. The size of your business and it's profitably doesn't really matter. The revenue, the market share that it has, and then the potential for total acquirable market, that's what really matters. And so, peers, salaries feel very not linear and very much just who knows. Everybody has a different yardstick based on where they're at in their journey.
I mean, speaking of bringing in that money and being successful, you've talked about having mixed feelings about your products promoted by brands like goop, which is Gwyneth Paltrow's much ridiculed but also very successful lifestyle brand. How do you balance the need to be marketed and have endorsements from places that you may not necessarily personally align with, and also staying true to yourself. On the one hand, being promoted in some way by goop is-
... for your business.
I think I've grown up a little bit in that respect. I think in the early days, because I started the company at 23, it was about my identity too and defining myself as we were defining the business and figuring out, "Well, what do I stand for? What does this business stand for?" I think I'm definitely more of a reluctant capitalist than I was before, where I'm like, "If they want to hype us and doesn't hurt us, that's fine. Please go right ahead. Please use our products." Ultimately, realizing what is the work. The work is our farm partners succeeding. The work is our farm partners being able to grow and farm really sustainably for generations to come. So then, whatever enables that and helps that succeed is success and is good.
Talk to me more about, as you said, being a reluctant capitalist, because I feel like there's often a tension between wanting to be social justice-oriented and there's an expectation that you're anti-capitalist. But at the same time, you have a business, the money that you're bringing in is helping people on the ground in India, people who traditionally have not been paid well. How do you conceive of your reluctant capitalism?
Yeah. I mean, I think of it in with... These are conversations that our team is having constantly. How do we exist within capitalism while still taking care of ourselves and our needs? It's meant that we're trying to implement a four-day work week right now. As a business owner, initially, I felt horrible about that. I was like, "Well, I need max productivity, and I need to make sure everybody's delivering. Humans are expensive and I have to make sure..." And then, I had to check myself and be like, "What is wrong with you?" Happy humans who are-
Like you've become the monster that [inaudible 00:31:43].
Yeah. Like, "What are you singing, Sana? Think about this." I had to sit with myself and be like, "Wait, if people are happy about coming to work and giving it their best, but also living out the rest of their lives, and we're able to be a good job, whatever that means in this very awkward moment that is 2022, that's great. And if people are able to add better value working four days a week, that's great. Stop." I had to reframe it in terms of, I think business and capitalism makes you believe that suffering equates to success and that suffering equates to harder work. I think I'm really, really trying to decouple from that. Nobody has to suffer. No harm has to be inflicted in order to succeed. That's much harder. It sounds easy to say, but I feel like it's all very internalized and challenging.
I'm curious to know, because I feel like as a person who's only ever been an employee and talking to fellow employee friends, you hear about the experience of having to negotiate for a raise from that point of view. I, at least, don't hear as often from the business owner, how do they deal with people negotiating for a raise who work for them. So, I don't know if you've had employees...
Mm-hmm. We have. Yeah, yeah.
Okay, great. Yeah, what is it like? How do you figure that out and kind of what's, quote, unquote, fair?
Yeah. I mean, I make two X our lowest salary. In the world of CEOs, that's wild. I think in terms of raises, I'm actually anti negotiating for a raise in that I want to see that pay parody across the company, where everybody has bands that they're working within, and it's based upon cost of living plus band and responsibility of work. And so, I think what I'm trying to move us towards is we hired in this haphazard quick fashion over the past couple years. People came in a different pay rates, and a lot of last year was about leveling everybody off to make sure that there was equity across the board, and people were roughly earning the same amount given what they were doing, the fact that they were full-time, stuff like that.
With the raise conversations, it's actually been hard for me because most of our employees feel like my friends, I feel responsible for their success and wellbeing. I want to give them all the money. So, it's been personally hard. But in terms of the math of the conversation, it's been quite straightforward of this is the money that we have, this is as high as I can go on this at the six month mark. If we have raised money or if our revenue has grown tremendously, let's talk about the next bump up. I definitely think we have thrown this idea of, at least for now in these young stages of the company, we've thrown the idea of, "Oh, if you came in at 62, you can only get a 6% raise or 7% raise." That does not matter at all. I don't think that that's fair, especially when people come in and really transform their roles and bring value in beautiful new ways that you never could have imagined.
I think that we're constantly rewriting our job description and also rechecking in. I have one employee who we were talking about a raise or what her future looked like, and she was like, "Actually, I'd rather not get a raise and do what I'm currently doing, but work less so that I can farm on the side." I was like, "Sure, you should do that. That sounds great." So, I don't know, I'm trying to think as holistically about it as possible and see how we can reframe it where there's more equity in it.
Just as a thought experiment, why is it okay if one person, even though they did found the company and can shoulder most the responsibility, make a lot more than the other people who are making it happen?
I hold onto this idea of who's taking the biggest risk a lot, where if this company went under tomorrow, I would be liable for everything, for every debt that we've taken on. I would probably be about a million dollars in debt because all the company liabilities come to me. I personally have guaranteed most of our loans. That feels fair. And then, I also think that once we get to a point with the company where people's inputs are equal, let's say everybody's working a 30-hour work week equally, but the amount of responsibility that they're having to hold onto, the amount of balls they're having to juggle feels equally distributed, and we've all talked through those are the roles we want to hold, then I think, yeah, we would get very close to having much more equal kind of pay structures.
But I think as yet, I'm the only human working 16-hour days across two continents, or my manager is the only folks doing that. There are some people in kind of part-time roles, et cetera, who are like, "Yeah, we'd rather not do that. Thank you." So, I think it's about responsibility and risk. Those are my two big ones.
In terms of your business, it's been a rocket ship, it sounds like. You've grown so many multiples. I don't know how to say that correctly, but you've expanded your business a lot since you started just a few years ago. Where do you want this to go in 10, 20 years? Do you still see yourself doing this?
I don't think I see myself doing this. I don't think that I'm necessarily the leader for Diaspora Co. once we get to a certain size. I'm ultimately a creative kind of dreamy human who doesn't love structure or meetings, and I definitely sometimes feel like a real square peg in a round hole, where my day has meetings scheduled from 7:00 AM to 9:00 PM. I live in spreadsheet world and eat very easy to eat meals. None of that feels like where I can be my best self or even do my best work necessarily.
I think part one is figuring out, well, how can Diaspora allow for me, and everybody on the team, to do more of that? To do more of slow, gentle working. That's not like, "Oh, another Zoom call." But then the second part of it is knowing that at a certain point, this company is going to be in grocery stores and distributed widely, and I don't have the experience to do that nor really the interest. I think I can add value to the company in a lot of other ways, primarily to our sourcing team and where we come from and where we source from. So, I'm excited to spend the next couple years, figuring what this company looks like without me.
What do you indulge in financially?
Good question. Good groceries. I spend a lot more on groceries than my partner would ever spend, which is why I buy them. But I like to cook. Home cooking is I feel like the one thing I do. My salad greens are not going to waste in my crisper drawer, so I feel morally superior about that. Otherwise, I like nice things. I grew up with two designers for parents, and they build beautiful buildings. I definitely look at these art objects and be like, "Oh, if I had that candle stand, would my life be better? Maybe." Yeah.
I mean, I've seen some Instagram pictures of your-
... your office, your hot pink office, which I think I saw on this call too. I love that. What does enough look like to you?
I am really clear on this. Enough looks like many to send both of my future children to college, because that was a privilege that I was given, and a house.
You sound very clear that you want two kids.
I do. I really love my family, and I feel excited to have that.
Do you have enough right now?
No, because I have a lot of business loans that I've personally guaranteed in my name.
Thank you so much. Thank you for doing this.
Yeah, of course.
Other People's Pockets is written and hosted by me, Maya Lau. It's produced by me, along with Joy Sanford and Dann Gallucci, production help from Angela Van. Our mix engineer is Dann Gallucci. Our executive producers are me, Maya Lau, along with Jane Marie and Dann Gallucci. A special thanks to Coriander.
Other People's Pockets is a co-production of Pushkin Industries and Little Everywhere. To find more Pushkin podcasts, listen on the iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts.