What inspired you to start your business?
I am originally from the country of Georgia, where rosehip juices and beverages have been a health tradition for centuries, so I grew up drinking it. I left my home country when I was young and since then I have lived in Atlanta, Georgia. I founded an organization called the Georgia to Georgia Foundation to help build relationships between our two Georgias. In 2008, my home country of Georgia was attacked by Russian forces and many Georgian farmers were left homeless, without jobs or income. My foundation tried to help them by sending supplies, but we quickly realized that what they needed were jobs. So, we started NADI as a social venture, with a mission of creating jobs for these individuals. We worked with refugee leaders to create a cooperative called TKIS NOBATI which enables us to hire these refugees, who are Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).
What challenges have you faced as a woman entrepreneur and how did you overcome them?
As a woman, it is very difficult to run a business, especially when you have a family. It is hard for you to manage it all, but it’s also difficult when the world around you expects you to be home for every dinner, expects that you cook and clean for the family, that you go home on time and that you would not travel as much as the business needs it. I get so annoyed by people who come up to me during an event that is late in the evening or when we stay late to work, and say something that implies that I should attend to my children. They feel sorry that I am not able to be with my family and instead I have to work. I never see men being asked the same question. First and most important for me is that my children see how hard I work and they appreciate this undertaking. They also understand and can share success stories with me because they see how hard it has been to achieve that success. Another very significant thing to any business is the support you get from your partner at home. My husband has always been a huge supporter and a positive force that keeps me going.
What advice would you give to other women entrepreneurs?
Do what you love and go for it. Be persistent! Building a business is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. Most importantly, enjoy the journey!
What three traits define you?
Multitasker, passionate and hard worker.
What women inspire you?
My amazing and beautiful mother, who has been a teacher for 30 years, and my sister, who is also an entrepreneur.
How has being a WBENC-Certified WBE helped your business?
WBENC has been a gamechanger for NADI. It has helped me get into the meetings with buyers at particular supermarkets who value having diverse suppliers, which has been an amazing opportunity. I am still new to WBENC, but I am sure it will remain to be a wonderful resource and a support tool.
What do you see as the coolest or most important trend in your industry?
I am very new to the beverage industry, and I am learning new things each day. I have realized that this category has no limits, and it can get as creative as one wants. Lately I have noticed that CBD beverages are taking off, and that’s really interesting to me.
As a business owner, what keeps you up at night?
I am usually so tired that I sleep great. I work hard each day and give my best; at night I try to take my mind off business and read non-business related books.
What are the biggest obstacles you see for young female entrepreneurs?
The biggest obstacles I see for young female entrepreneurs are lack of patience, capacity to work hard, and education.
What do you love about being a business owner?
As a business owner, I love that I can try various creative ways to grow the business and the only limit I have is my own imagination. As a social venture business owner that has a mission to create jobs for refugees, I greatly enjoy giving back and having a team next to me who cares more about our mission than about how fast we are growing.
What’s the hardest part about being a business owner?
For me, the hardest part about being a business owner is to stay positive and enthusiastic when there is a difficult path I need to take or when I don’t succeed. It is so important to have people in your life who you can count on, who will cheer you up and listen to your worries with care.
How do you define success?
I believe each day that I do what I love with people I love and care about is a successful day.
What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received?
My longtime boss at a law firm once told me this: “Stay positive even in the most difficult situations.” As time goes by, I realize how much my own attitude can shape the outcome. So, no matter how difficult it is I try to find a positive solution.
What’s your favorite career moment?
My favorite career moment is when I realized that no matter where I will work or what kind of business I will start, it will have a mission to impact people’s lives in a positive way.
If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?
I would study physics.
What are you reading or listening to now?
Right now, I’m reading When Einstein Walked with Godel, and I listen to the BevNet podcast as much as possible.
What’s the best way to start your day?
With a smile and tea.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
How do you unwind after a long workday?
Play with my youngest son.
What do you like about your workspace?
It’s cozy, organized and has lots of wonderful paintings.
Fill in the blank:
When I face a challenge, I... get excited!
If I could go back in time, I would tell myself… you can do it!
The one thing I couldn’t live without is… hobbies.
By this time next year, I will be … selling more NADI beverages at more stores.
The best thing that happened to me last week was … salsa class with a few good friends.
To get my creative juices flowing, I …look at what the competition is doing.