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Meet Nina Tickaradze, interview with VoyageATL

Today we’d like to introduce you to Nina Tickaradze.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
I’m originally from the country of Georgia, which has a very rich culture and ancient history that goes back thousands of years. Georgian people are very hospitable, and they love to cook elaborate feasts and make foods and drinks that are healthy and keep your body strong. I moved to Atlanta as a teenager and have been here ever since. I’ve always wanted to strengthen ties between the two Georgias, and I helped create the Georgia to Georgia Foundation and the Atlanta-Tbilisi Sister City Committee, which are both focused on social, civic and business relations.

Each time I visit family and friends back in Georgia, I see a lot of refugees who had been displaced by geopolitical conflicts and they had to flee their homes and leave everything behind. They had no jobs and no money, so they were living in makeshift camps and struggling to buy food and clothing. I wanted to do something to help them, but what can one person do?

One day, I was talking with a longtime friend about our fond memories from childhood. We were talking about the foods we liked. Our grandmothers used to make this delicious rosehip drink from berries they would pick by hand from the wild rose bushes that grew outside. It’s like the Georgian version of orange juice.

And it hit me — what if we could start a company in the United States that made healthy rosehip drinks and fruit snacks and was also a social venture that could create jobs for the refugees? The idea for NADI was born! We’re proud to be the first and only USDA-certified organic rosehip juice in America, and we recently created Happy Hearts dried apple chips. Our products are carried by hundreds of retail stores, including The Fresh Market and many local health food stores and neighborhood markets.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Starting a food and beverage business from scratch is incredibly hard. I had to learn about USDA certification, import and export regulations, shipping and logistics, packaging materials and how that affects shelf life, taxes, sustainable growing and harvesting, and so many other things that happen behind the scenes to make a product successful. Everything costs more money than you expect, and it’s very hard to get attention from retailers when you are a startup brand.

Make friends with other entrepreneurs who have started similar businesses in your industry, and ask their advice often. Share ideas, and find out how they solved problems. There’s a lot of trial and error, and you have to be persistent and have relentless optimism. When someone says “no,” that’s just another step closer to getting them to say “yes.”

Great, so let’s talk business. Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
NADI makes all-natural rosehip juices and fruit snacks, and we’re known for keeping as close to nature as possible. We never use artificial ingredients or chemicals, and we never add sugar or oils. All of our products are non-GMO, vegan, and gluten-free.

More importantly, our products are full of vitamins and other nutrients that are good for your body. Rosehips are one of the best naturally occurring sources of Vitamin C, with 25-40 times more Vitamin C by weight than citrus fruits like oranges and lemons, and rosehips also have B Complex Vitamins, antioxidants, polyphenols and bioflavonoids. Our Happy Hearts apple chips are loaded with fiber and made with just one ingredient: apples.

What matters most to you?
Aside from being known as a company that makes healthy and delicious products, the thing that’s most important to us is making a real and lasting positive impact in our local communities. We are creating jobs that provide steady income, and we also offer English and computer classes so people can learn new skills that make them more employable. We’re helping people get back on their feet but also rebuild their entire lives. We hope more businesses embrace socially responsible entrepreneurism and use their companies as a vehicle for doing good.

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