This week, we talk to Dr Ali Karami, founder of NudeHerbs, purveyor of a range of brewed herbal and floral tonics. Drawing not only on his education in science but also on his Persian heritage and that region’s ancient health recipes, Dr Ali set out to develop and introduce a beverage that is not only healthy but also sustainable. Since launching in 2017, NudeHerbs has grown into a brand with a presence in wholefood stores and cafes, as well as its online store.
ISB: How did your interest in herbal and floral tonics come about?
AK: My journey towards NudeHerbs started at home, as a child. I watched my parents’ garden together in harmony, and stretched my innovative soul, building an electric generator that turned auto exhaust into energy, supporting the environment. My parents would talk about the importance of health, and the ancient recipes their family had held for generations, something I heard many times over, fading into the background for many years, only to come back in the biggest way. My childhood was not always harmonious, though. In 1984, in the midst of the Iran-Iraq war, I was two-years-old living in a city called Ahvaz, situated in the south-west of Iran, close to Iraq’s border. Suddenly my mum hears a massive explosion sound followed by shattered windows and smoke running into the house. She runs into the yard finding me laying on the ground and crying. A rocket had landed less than 50 meters away outside the walls. Walls protected me against the rocket shreds but the sonic boom. My mum says I didn’t stop crying for a few hours and had some major hearing problems for a few weeks. Apparently, it made its impact on my unconscious, turning me into a person seeking peace and hating wars. To pursue a peaceful world we need to have a healthy body and mind, and that is where I found my purpose; creating genuinely healthy products that help people to stay healthy and make the most of their lives, and hopefully, defend global peace.
ISB: What was the most challenging aspect of becoming an entrepreneur considering your science background, and how did you overcome it?
AK: Running a business is certainly way more challenging than being an employee. Financial uncertainty is the main challenge. Working crazy hours, and handling an extreme level of stress are among the other challenges that I have faced. I have pictured a clear and solid vision for my personal life and business, they are the light of my challenging journey.
ISB: What were the early days of the business like?
AK: The main difference between me and most other entrepreneurs is that I simultaneously made two major moves, migrating to a new country where I knew nobody, and starting a business. Bringing in ancient brewing techniques from the middle east to the humid heat of Queensland was an exciting and challenging venture. My crops were so elaborate that they aroused suspicion from the local police, turning up one day to inspect what I was doing. Upon realising the true intention of floral and herbal brews, they returned regularly to get an update and see the progress.
ISB: What is the significance for you of making use of ancient recipes handed down from generations and introducing people to them in the process?
AK: Ancient civilization did not have the interventions and misdirection of modern food science that have introduced sugars, artificial colour, flavours and preservatives into our diet. NudeHerbs’ mission is to bring ancient wisdom and medicine to modern societies. It means introducing pure and highly nutritious products to the consumers. This is why NudeHerbs is considered a functional beverage; it does not hinder the system but enhances it instead. NudeHerbs proves you can have all-natural ingredients in a competitive market that requires a substantial shelf life. It dispels the myth that preservatives are essential.
ISB: What is your vision for NudeHerbs in a couple of years?
AK: The vision is to expand internationally as we educate and promote health-conscious behaviour. This month we are launching our biggest campaign yet and are working with investors closely to bring NudeHerbs to the world.
ISB: What is the most important lesson in your business journey that you’d share with others looking to start their own business?
AK: Set a vision and stick to it, be ready to sacrifice a lot for your vision, no matter what! If it was easy, everyone would be highly successful.