Shiza Shahid and her husband, Amir Tehrani, launched their kitchen essentials brand, Our Place, in 2019. Aiming to inspire people to cook more often and connect through food, Our Place was created to elevate any cooking experience. Despite the brand's timeless designs that have instantly become a staple in today's kitchens, its biggest focus stems from inciting change. With health, sustainability, and encouraging human connections at the forefront of the brand, Our Place is quickly becoming a strong innovator in the industry.

Here, she speaks to Sunil Makan as part of our Women Who Win series, about her biggest successes, living with purpose, and standing up for what you believe.

Take me back to the beginning of your business...

We started Our Place because we wanted to inspire people to cook more often, and to break bread together. Because cooking and sharing food is an act of reconnection - to our health, our traditions, our families and communities. To get more people cooking, we had to re-imagine the uninteresting world of cookware, appliances, and kitchen tools - crafting high-performance kitchenware that elevates everyday cooking into an inspired experience.

Has the business had to pivot or change in the last few years?

Since we’ve launched the business we’ve taken our core design approach and expanded into appliances, dinnerware, textiles and other cooking tools. We’ve also expanded from being only online, to being in many retail stores including Selfridges, Harrods, and we were even the first cookware brand in Liberty.

One of the bravest things we’ve done is stand up to the industry on health and sustainability.

What is the bravest thing you’ve ever done?

One of the bravest things we’ve done is stand up to the industry on health and sustainability. While most other cookware brands are still using Forever Chemicals (PTFEs/Teflon) as the basis of their non-stick coatings, we have challenged that paradigm, and called out its impact on the environment, worker safety, and the health of consumers. We have created alternatives that are safe, healthy, and more sustainable. We’re actively educating consumers on the risks, providing better alternatives, and calling on the industry to do the right thing.

What has been your biggest challenge? And lesson that you’ve learned?

As we design products, we are creating something entirely new, thinking differently from everyone else. This is always hard - as you’re challenging the ways things have always been done. The lessons we learned is that innovation requires a clean vision and the courage to go against the grain.

Have you ever felt discriminated against as a female founder?

Yes, there have been instances where I’ve been underestimated or targeted because of my gender. Female founders are funded less, and criticized more, than men. However, I’ve learned to use these experiences as fuel to drive my mission forward and to advocate for greater gender equality in the business world.

I do guard my energy zealously. If I have to give my all to Our Place every day, then I make sure in the time that remains, I’m recharging.

How can you achieve the right work/ life balance?

I don’t believe you can start and scale a company if you’re prioritizing work-life balance. Building something that matters is incredibly hard. I owe it to my team and our community to put my heart and soul into it.

However, I do guard my energy zealously. If I have to give my all to Our Place every day, then I make sure in the time that remains, I’m recharging—doing pilates, cooking healthy food, prioritizing sleep, spending time with people who fill my cup, and saying no to everything else. I choose work-like fulfillment over work-life balance.

What is the best advice you’ve received?

The best advice I’ve received is to stay true to your values and mission, even when faced with challenges. Authenticity and integrity are key to building a sustainable and impactful business.

What has been your proudest moment?

One of my proudest moments was seeing the positive impact Our Place has had on people’s lives, especially during the pandemic. Hearing stories of families coming together over meals cooked with our products has been incredibly rewarding.

How can we all ask for more?

You have to know your worth and articulate your request clearly. Share your career goals with your manager to show your commitment to growth. Choose the right timing, such as during performance reviews or after major successes. And if your request isn’t met, seek feedback and agree on clear milestones for achieving the next level.

How do you celebrate success?

I celebrate success by taking time to reflect on the journey and express gratitude to the team and supporters who made it possible. It’s also important to take a moment to enjoy the achievement before moving on to the next goal.

What will you never compromise on in business?

I will never compromise on our core values of integrity, inclusivity, and social impact. These principles guide every decision we make and ensure that our business remains aligned with our mission.

What is your mantra?

My mantra is "You get to live this life - give it everything you’ve got.” It reminds me of my origins, of how the women who came before would have dreamed of these opportunities that I now have. And it inspires me to make it matter by living a life of courage, integrity, and purpose.

What would you want to change for women?

I strive for greater freedoms for women. Throughout my life, I've witnessed women in my community being denied their fundamental rights, and their stories stay with me. I passionately advocate for equality in education and the workplace because the playing field is still far from level. Our Place is proudly founded and built by women, and I take immense pride in that.

Authenticity and integrity are key to building a sustainable and impactful business.

What is your superpower?

My superpower is building community. I have a passion for bringing people together, creating spaces where diverse voices can connect and thrive. Through Our Place and the Malala Fund, I've fostered inclusive communities that empower individuals and celebrate shared values.

What is the biggest mistake you’ve made?

As an optimist, I can get excited by too many ideas; there's so much we want to impact. But trying to do too many things at once instead of focusing on your core business strategy can dilute your efforts and success - so now I'm focused on staying focused!

What could we all achieve if we supported each other?

By supporting each other, we can build a world rooted in deeper understanding. That’s the essence of Our Place – using cooking and shared meals to bridge divides, heal divisions, and create a larger, more inclusive table for all.

Do you have a favourite piece from Our Place?

My favorite piece is the Always Pan. It’s versatile, beautifully designed, and has become a staple in so many kitchens. It embodies our mission of bringing people together through cooking.

What’s next for you? What’s next for the company?

We’re focused on continuing to imaginatively craft cookware, appliances, and tools with an obsession for high design, versatility, and wellbeing.

What are your favourite places to visit in London?

I love visiting the vibrant markets in London, like Borough Market, for inspiration. I also enjoy spending time in Regent Park, the Tate Modern, and catching a West End show.

If someone was coming to LA for the first time, what’s your one piece of advice? And where should they go?

My advice would be to explore the diverse neighborhoods and experience the incredible food scene. Don’t forget to stop by the Our Place retail experience in Venice Beach, afterwards you can enjoy a farm-to-table lunch at Gjelina across the street.

Shop Our Place

2024-06-17T12:04:56Z dg43tfdfdgfd