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Shazi Visram helped feed both of my babies — and there’s a good chance she helped feed yours, too. That’s because Visram is the founder Happy Family Brands, a company that began with a line of premium, organic frozen baby food called Happy Baby and grew to be the biggest organic baby food company in the country — not to mention the company that brought the world the now-ubiquitous baby food pouch.
As a new mom who was hell-bent on making my own organic baby food but also, you know, a working mom who was very tired, I remember discovering Happy Baby’s frozen cubes in the grocery store and feeling seen. Visram started the brand, which she led until 2018, for moms just like me, who were looking for not just an alternative to the jar, but an alternative to homemade. Her goal, she says, was “to make a huge difference in the way children are fed.”
Well, goal achieved. These days, Visram has a new baby, and is hoping to disrupt yet another category: the $60 billion diaper industry. For the past two years, she’s been working with doctors, scientists, and biologists to launch a new line of non-toxic disposable diapers, as well as an accompanying line of EWG-verified cleaning and skincare products; the new company, dubbed healthynest, launched in September.
“It’s really an extension of my mission with Happy [Family],” she says of her new endeavor. As Visram was growing her first company, she was also growing her family — she and her husband are parents to a 10-year-old son, Zane, who has autism, and a 4-year-old daughter, Asha. “I realized that there was so much more in our environment [beyond food] that needed to be cleaned up for our kids to make a difference,” she explains. “Healthynest is my answer to take it to the next level. I just saw an opportunity to kind of disrupt the space and create something where parents can feel totally certain that the product is what it says it is and is safe.”
Visram isn’t stopping there, either: Next up for healthynest is a prenatal vitamin. Oh, and beyond the health benefits to moms and babies of the products she’s creating is the benefit to Mother Earth — because Visram is also dedicated to eliminating single-use plastic where possible, which is why healthynest’s cleaning and body wash products are concentrated, multi-purpose, and available in chic refillable stainless steel containers.
And yes, those are certainly more crowded categories than the baby food industry was when she upended it, but for Visram, that’s not cause for concern. “I don’t really care about competition,” she says. “I only care about doing things the way that I wish I had known better to do, and where I see possibilities for innovation.”
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The podcast I’m listening to right now on repeat
“I love to listen to podcasts that teach me something, inspire me, or entertain me. As a person obsessed with building and creating things in general, my favorite podcast of all time is Guy Raz’s How I Built This. Hearing the stories of so many people I look up to inspires me and sparks creative ideas. I love hearing about the underdog overcoming adversity. I did an episode back in November and it was one of the highlights of my life!
“I rely on Raising Good Humans by Dr. Aliza Pressman for all things mindful parenting, based on today’s latest thinking and science. She’s so friggin’ smart yet relatable.
“Lastly, Jo Piazza’s podcast Committed is just smart, entertaining, and relevant to me. It’s about relationships and the joys of partnering up. Jo is also hilarious.”
The books my kids are currently obsessed with
“They’re both sort of at the same comprehension level. Zane is 10 and a very different learner with his autism. He only started speaking in the last two years, while Asha just turned 4 and has a vocabulary that suddenly rivals mine. Both of them meet in the middle, so it works out that we read together. Right now we read James and the Giant Peach, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, and Room on the Broom in some combination every night.”
What I’m currently reading for myself
“For pleasure, I’m re-reading City of Thieves by Davies Benioff, who co-created Game of Thrones. It’s an amazing historical fiction book about the siege of St. Petersburg that you cannot put down. It’s funny and sad and everything that makes a novel perfect. It’s also set during crazy unthinkably desperate times and makes you feel really grateful for everything right now.”
The store-bought snacks I always keep on hand for my kids
“Hard to not be biased here! I founded Happy Family Organics in 2003 and ran it until 2018, and couldn’t be prouder. What used to be under the radar are now some of my favorites staples. Our rice cakes slathered with Kween Granola Butter make for the most amazing gluten free, nut free, and dairy free treat.
“The other brand that’s huge in my house is Simple Mills, which is mostly almond, coconut, and cassava flour. My daughter loves to bake their brownies and muffins, and I feel good about her eating as many as she likes.”
The beauty product that’s always in my bag
“I’m not a cosmetics person, per se. I still have all the makeup from my wedding in 2007! But I love skin care products that actually support healthy skin. It’s still in development, but I love our healthynest all purpose balm. It has Manuka honey and probiotics, and is just a perfect salve for chapped lips, soft hands, or rough un-pedicured heels. I also love Red Flower Cardamom oil as a moisturizer. It smells like happy childhood memories.”
The apps that makes my life as a parent easier
“Any.do is one we use at home to manage grocery lists, meal planning, and to-dos.”
The parenting accounts I love to follow
“I love ScaryMommy and SaraBlakely for humor and relatability. Tacanow and RaisingGoodHumanspodcast for actual parenting tools, and Thetot for curating safe products for our families and making it stylish. I also love all the accounts that show newborn baby pics and new mamas in real life, stretch marks and all — those are my absolute favorite because there’s nothing more beautiful and vulnerable than perfectly imperfect new life.”
The non-screen activity that keeps my kids occupied
“This is critical to our life….thank heavens for the TRAMPOLINE.
A second would be a sensory swing, and the third would be an old golf cart my husband painted with our family sigil on it, which happens to be a lion and the profile of a labradoodle that’s monogrammed with our hyphenated initials!”
The kid-friendly music I don’t hate playing around the house
“As a family we are into Paul Simon Radio, the Stand By Me Soundtrack, Manu Chao (Zane’s favorite), Bob Marley, and of course Jack Johnson. His 3R song (Reduce Reuse Recycle) is my company’s on-hold music and inspired our corporate name, Fewer Better Things!”
The subscriptions I love
“Alaska Seafood Co, which is where we get our wild Alaskan Salmon. It’s been hard to consistently get wild Alaskan at the market and I really try to make the kids salmon four times a week because I know how important the DHA is for their brain health. I totally love the experience of the brand and managing the subscription is so easy.
“I could write a chapter on the best probiotics in the world that are personalized and on subscription. Sungenomics.com is my favorite.
“We love Highlights magazine, which is dorky but good. It’s a classic, and the science behind the sticker exercises is great and helps Zane’s ability to focus, and it gives us something to do together with Asha at mealtime instead of a screen (not that she doesn’t find a way to get an iPad because she certainly does and I’m not going to feel guilty about it!) During Covid she has learned to purchase all sorts of junky baby games and watch these very terrible unboxing videos of plastic toys that she has now learned how to put into the Amazon cart. It’s hilarious to see what’s in the cart sometimes! This brings us full circle to why Highlights is so much better.”
My favorites for kid bath/skincare
“Again, totally biased, but because I have a strong desire to reduce single use plastic in our world, we worked to develop the most premium, plant based, EWG-Verified and plastic-free skincare line for little bodies. The healthynest mom/baby body wash concentrate with the accompanying stainless steel foaming dispenser is the shampoo and body wash for our whole family. I wash my hair with it and it leaves it shiny and clean but it’s gentle enough for a newborn. What’s even better is the concentrate makes enough for 200 baths and eliminates 10 single use plastic bottles!”
The under-the-radar kid brands I love
“I don’t know if they are under radar really but I love Primary for baby clothes. The site is so easy to shop quickly and the classics are easy to buy in a variety of basic colors with good quality cotton. I loved their zip up baby onesies and their tees.”
“I’m also a fan of Tea Collection. I love the idea of exploration of different cultures through fashion and prints for kids. Japan was an all time favorite collection — baby kimonos are too cute. I’m trying the boys play pants for me in the largest size. I’ve always been a tomboy so dressing like Zane is fun.
“Another real favorite that people may not have seen yet is COS for baby and kids. Asha and Zane always seem to look like little modern architectural models in their clothes. They are minimalist and chic and surprisingly affordable.”
The clothing brands I love for myself
“I’m the kind of person who buys three of something I like and just wears it until it’s totally unusable. I still have clothes from 9th grade. I am usually now found in Nili Lotan pants that have been my favorite go-to trouser for years, white v neck t shirts (like the Hanes my dad used to wear) from James Perse. And I like Marsell shoes and a tote from Proenza Schouler.”
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