Launching Fast, Embracing Risk, and Getting Hailey Bieber as a Customer
Launching Fast, Embracing Risk, and Getting Hailey Bieber as a Customer

"I think what struck me was the difference that you could make in your life with supplementation, especially when you're at that point where you're not necessarily feeling like yourself anymore." 

- Siff Haider

This week features Siffat Haider, co-founder of renowned wellness brand, Arrae, which has taken social media by storm with its groundbreaking Bloat and Calm supplements and IG-worthy packaging and aesthetics. Siff talks to Elizabeth about her personal health journey that led her to explore holistic remedies, unveiling the immense power of alternative herbs in addressing women's day-to-day health issues. She details how she and her husband Nish embarked on a mission to create Arrae, and why you don’t need things to be perfect before launching your business. Siff discusses how she got the courage to take a risk in starting a brand, the dynamics of working closely with a co-founder, especially when it’s also the person you are living with, and the beauty of taking a break from work, even if it’s just a one day staycation. Siff shares her favorite morning rituals and gives us a sneak peek at the exciting new products on the way at Arrae.

 

  • PODCAST TRANSCRIPT

    Elizabeth Stein 00:00
    Hi, everyone. I'm Elizabeth Stein, founder and CEO of Purely Elizabeth. And this is Live Purely with Elizabeth, featuring candid conversations about how to thrive on your wellness journey. This week's guest is Siff, Haider, co founder of Arrae the wellness brand that you've probably seen all over Instagram for their bloat and calm settlements. Before launching or Arrae in March of 2020 Siff was a content creator with the wildly popular blog, icing and glitter. In this episode, we talked about Siff's own health journey, looking for more holistic natural remedies to feel her best. How she quickly realized that these alternative herbs had the power to address women's toughest day to day health issues and began building Arrae with her husband Nish to share these solutions with others. We talked about her strategy for launching the business and standing out in the category, lesson she's learned along the way. What it's like working with her husband, some of her favorite ways to feel her best in the morning, like journaling and moving her body and so much more. Keep listening to learn all about Siff, and Arrae. If you haven't had the chance to try our grain free granola yet, head on over to Walmart to now find them in the gluten free Healthy Living aisle in select Walmart locations. Our grain free granola's have crunchy clusters of nuts, superfood seeds and creamy nut butters, all baked with organic coconut oil and sweetened with coconut sugar. They are gluten free paleo and keto certified. Use the link in the notes section to find Purely Elizabeth products at a Walmart store near you. Siff, welcome to the podcast. It's so nice to meet you and I'm such a huge fan of your brand. So I can't wait to hear all your backstory and everything that's going on with you.

    Siff Haider 02:00
    Thank you so much for having me. I mean, I was telling you offline a little bit but we always have a pack of your granola in our pantry, like I sent you a picture of when you'd originally DM'ed me so big fan of your brand as well.

    Elizabeth Stein 02:14
    Awesome. Well, let's start with your journey and really first just getting the foundation of what originally inspired you to start Arrae, as we said offline that you just started in March of 2020, which is unbelievable to see how much you've done in the last couple of years. So what was leading up to it?

    Siff Haider 02:36
    So I don't know, like I didn't think of all things I'd be working on a supplement business. You know, something that is interesting about me is that I'm not someone who is inherently like, oh, I want to start a business to make money. That's never who I was, I was just always someone who's very fueled by purpose. So my backstory is that, you know, I've struggled with health issues. For the majority of my life, I just had a very weak immune system, and ended up fracturing my rib from a chronic cough in my early 20s. And when I went to my doctor, I was prescribed codeine. And at that point, it just, it felt like it wasn't going to do anything for me. You know, at that point, I was just like, Okay, well, how do we make sure it doesn't happen again, and there were no answers. And so that's kind of what got me into holistic health and wellness, and went down this rabbit hole, kind of being my own guinea pig, and seeing huge changes in my own immune system from what I was doing. And from there, you know, troubleshooting everything else, from digestion, to anxiety, to fatigue, and all of these kind of issues that we deal with on a day to day basis, I realized that they could be treated pretty holistically.

    Elizabeth Stein 03:57
    What were some of the things you were doing at that time that you felt better for your immunity, like what, what was a couple of the big changes, I guess?

    Siff Haider 04:06
    Honestly, it was from a supplement standpoint, it was understanding how to dose myself with really high doses of vitamin C, akinesia, umcka, oregano oil, like literally understanding all of the immunity boosting supplements and no one had told me about this stuff. And mind you this is like, you know, almost 10 years ago, I would say and back then the information just wasn't there that we have today. You know, there was no Erewhon there was no cool wellness girlies like it was very much quite granola people thought you know, holistic wellness was very weird. I was one such person I was very just, I didn't really believe in it. And it wasn't until I tried out of desperation that I was like okay, wow, I see the change in myself. And of course, like there were lifestyle changes as well like understanding how I should nourish my body. So all of those things made a difference. But I think what struck me was the difference that you could make in your life with supplementation, especially when you're at that point where you're not necessarily like feeling like yourself anymore. So stomach issues was another big one, you know, I was someone who had a ton of food sensitivities. And so anytime I'd go out to eat, my stomach would hurt. And I understood how to kind of treat myself with herbs and minerals and vitamins to help that as well. And so, going down this road for myself, my husband and I, back then my boyfriend, now my husband, he's my co founder, Nish, and I realized that there was this huge whitespace in the wellness industry whereby, you know, if you look at skincare, you can go to sephora or credo, wherever you want to go, and you can get something for your dark circles, your acne, whatever your skin concern is, and these things are typically formulated by a chemist or a Derm, you know, you're going to see results. And it's quite user friendly, and also really beautiful. So the consumer wants to touch and feel it. And they're actually excited to do good for their skin. And I remember my mom's generation, that just was not the sentiment around skincare, skincare was exactly where wellness is, or was a few years ago in my time. And so I was like, Okay, if this has happened in the skincare industry, just in the last 20 years, then I just felt like it had to be the same for wellness. And so we decided we wanted to start a brand that created targeted supplements that you could feel the impact of immediately and was formulated by a doctor, really beautiful. So consumers would also want to touch and feel it and feel really excited to treat those issues that were bothering them.

    Elizabeth Stein 06:51
    Love it. Alright, so let's dive into kind of getting started. So you have this idea. And certainly, you're so right that where the supplement world is was very different from skincare. It's one thing to have just like this idea of starting, it's another to move forward with it. So first, what were you doing career wise, while you were having this idea to move into creating a brand?

    Siff Haider 07:18
    I was a content creator.

    Elizabeth Stein 07:20
    What was your husband doing? Or your boyfriend too.

    Siff Haider 07:25
    Back then he was in FinTech. So we were in completely different career fields. And I think that that's what makes our partnership so successful as well, because he is so good at the things that I am so bad at and vice versa. So we just knew that we'd be really good co founders, and I'm very lucky to get to work with him.

    Elizabeth Stein 07:48
    So at the time, did you like what were the initial first things? Did you put together business plan?

    Siff Haider 07:55
    No, absolutely not. And, you know, this is why like conversations like this are really interesting, because we have two founders, your company has been around for 14 years and has really like stood the test of time here. And mine is like newer, but hopefully I'm doing things right to hopefully get to the 14 year mark. And last. And I think that people psych themselves out when they have an idea. And they're like, I have to get this like great business parent, like no, you figure things out along the way. And no one goes into their first business. I don't know, like, unless you're a Harvard MBA grad, I certainly wasn't, I just figured things out. And so the first thing we did was honestly speak to doctors. So first, actually, even before that it was triangulating a theory we had and our theory was that everyone was bloated and anxious. And so you know, we would hear about it anecdotally from friends. Anytime we went out for dinner, it was just this common conversation that would come up no matter whether I was at brunch, or just like, wherever I was, everyone was apparently bloated and anxious. And so we were like, Okay, what's going on here? Can we speak to doctors and really understand whether number one it is as common as we think it is? And number two, are these two issues actually as linked as they seem? Because everyone was either or both. And so that's exactly what we did. We went and spoke to doctors and what we realized is that bloating and anxiety is, in fact something that impacts specifically women, like a lot of women, it's very common amongst women. And number two, that these two issues are intrinsically linked. So when we are anxious our bodies go into fight or flight mode, which makes digestion really difficult. Similarly, if you think about when you're dealing with digestive discomfort, it takes up so much mental real estate and, you know, it's just a cause of like such anxiety and rumination. And so we realized that in order to address, One we kind of had to address the other as well. And so that was number one was like the research and just triangulation, and number two was finding someone who would formulate it with us. So we went and spoke to a bunch of doctors until we landed on the right one, who we thought was the right fit to formulate the product that we had in mind, who is a real expert in her field. And yeah, that was awesome. We were off to the races.

    Elizabeth Stein 10:28
    And then for you, as you were thinking about it, you were a content creator, so you certainly knew the value of what it had, I would assume but it had to look like and yes, really creating the beautiful aesthetic that you have. So I'm curious, were there many rounds? Did you automatically see like this is it and launch with that? Or did you launch with a different look?

    Siff Haider 10:57
    So even though I'm a creator, and I wanted the product to look a certain way, and be very, like Instagrammable, I also don't come from a graphic design background, you know, so it's not, these are like two very different things, knowing how you want something to look versus like actually being able to translate it. These are two different skill sets. So we worked with a branding agency to help our vision come to life. But definitely, this is not the version that we went to market with like, I mean, I'm sure if your listeners have been following our brands for a while, you'll know that we've like updated and upgraded our packaging over time, because, you know, we've leveled up and our whole, like our whole go to market strategy was go to market. And we could always iterate and improve down the line, like, our website looked like trash when we launched. I mean, it was just this Shopify theme.

    Elizabeth Stein 11:55
    Another good lesson, again, is you don't need to have everything perfect. And you'll never launch if it is.

    Siff Haider 12:02
    Yeah, and I think that if you, if you keep waiting for perfection, you've probably waited too long, because someone else is going to come out there and like, you know, be a little bit scrappier and a little bit quicker and bolder. And that's kind of how the best businesses grow. You know, like, we look at tech businesses like Uber or Amazon, do you really think that their final version that we see today was version number one? Absolutely not, you know, you iterate on these things. And so that was our whole theory as well. So even the first version we launched with in terms of the packaging, had like a base level of like, really, like beautiful and aesthetic. But of course, we've improved since then, as well.

    Elizabeth Stein 12:40
    I love that. I think that's such a really great lesson for people, whether it's starting business or anything, I've just like, it doesn't all have to be perfect.

    Siff Haider 12:49
    Yeah, absolutely.

    Elizabeth Stein 12:51
    So you mentioned earlier that you launched in March of 2020.

    Siff Haider 12:56
    Yeah, what a time!

    Elizabeth Stein 12:58
    Pre lockdown post lockdown. And then what was that moment that you were like, should we launch should we not launch like, well, whats the world that we're in right now.

    Siff Haider 13:07
    It was during, the good thing was that we didn't have this like huge budget to do like this, like massive launch, launch party glam. Like we didn't have any of that. Okay, we were just, you know, we started our company from our apartment, we had no idea what was coming our way or like how quickly the company would grow. I still remember this is like the funniest story and mission, I still talk about it where when we started, we were like, Oh, my God. And this is like, obviously, right before, right before we knew how long COVID was really going to last. But yeah, so we were we were talking about we're like, oh my god, once we hit $10,000 in revenue, we're gonna go to Tulum to celebrate, like we thought $10,000 was like it, you know, like, we were the biggest company. You just have no idea, you know. And so we launched March of 2020. It was an operational nightmare, to say the least, because we just didn't know what was going on. You know, I remember taking product down to the post office. And we were back in Canada back then. Because we're from Toronto, and the guy at the post office being like, well, I don't know if this is gonna go across the border, because we don't know what's happening with mail in general. And Nish and I were like, well, we're gonna leave this here, and you're gonna take it because we're not taking it back to our house, that's for sure. So it was stuff like that, and, you know, having to do so much on our own because we weren't able to hire and then we went on to hire like our first person for packaging who was laid off from Nish's old company because people were making all these cuts during COVID and it was just it was wild. So it was a crazy time operationally to launch but I think from I guess like a consumer needs perspective, it was the perfect time to launch because people had this renewed interest in health and wellness. Everyone was at home, anxious watching the news and eating pizza then bloated. Exactly. And you know, there we were at their service. So that's kind of how it went.

    Elizabeth Stein 15:20
    What do you think gave you the courage to just jump and take the risk and start this business? Because I think it can seem very overwhelming for a lot of people. And I think it's like being circumstantial, either like you're in the right mindset, because something has happened, or that's naturally who you are. But for you, what, what do you think that look like? And any tips that you have around getting in that kind of zone?

    Siff Haider 15:47
    So I'm someone who is very open to risk. And always, yeah, always, I've always been that way. Like, when I went full time into content creation, I left my job in 2016, to go full time into content creation. And back then, being a creator was like the wild, wild west. I was, like, I had just started to make a little bit of money. But I just knew that if I didn't go into it, I wouldn't know. And for me, I was like, I would rather just fail and know that this was not worth it or not, like over not trying it at all, you know, so I've never been someone who's fearful, I'm quite open to risk. But thankfully, as well, like from from starting a business perspective, I think that that's a skill. That is it's like a good thing, right. It's a good personality trait, because you are, I think if you're overly cautious, you think 100 times before, like going full on into something, I'm the very opposite end of the spectrum. However, as a business owner, I like that I have Nish as the co founder, because he's a little bit more risk averse. So we tend to balance each other out in terms of how we operate in the business itself.

    Elizabeth Stein 16:55
    Yeah, I was gonna ask you, how has that dynamic played out over the last couple of years?

    Siff Haider 17:01
    It's been awesome. Honestly, like, I of course, like, there's good days and bad days, like with everyone else, you know, like, last night, we got into an argument. And I was like, I'm just I'm leaving you and going out for a walk, you know, things like that happen, which is normal. But I think, for us, our dynamic just works because of how complementary skill sets are, and just how compatible we are. And like communication, like we've been together for 11 years, we have a lot of respect for one another's unique skill sets. And also, I think, because we stay in our swim lanes, which are just so inherently different, there's no real chance to like necessarily overlap or get into a big argument when it comes to like, who has the last say on certain things. Like, I know what he has a lot of say on and I know what I have a lot say on and then there's like certain things that we make a joint decision on. But that's kind of how we operate our business. And it's worked really well for us.

    Elizabeth Stein 18:05
    Do you have any rules? As far as like, we're not talking about work. after this time? We are?

    Siff Haider 18:12
    Yeah, I mean, it's not. It's not like a blanket rule in terms of like, this is our cut off time, but rather, we have learned to vocalize things. So you know, certain days, you're having a great day, and you can continue to talk about the business, you know, well, after the workday is over. Other days, it's just been tough. And you don't necessarily want to talk business, you just want your husband to be there for you. And just to like vent or just talk about something different entirely. And so I think over time, we've gotten really good at that whereby I say like, okay, Nish I don't want to talk about work anymore. The only standing rules that we have is that we don't talk about, like the problems at work during date night, we can talk about like fun, exciting things that were like looking forward to like, growth opportunities, or I don't know, like some crazy idea that we have that we're really excited about. That's that's okay. But we're not going to talk about the fact that there was an operational nightmare at work at date night, like that's not sexy, you know. And so we have that one day carved out, where one night a week we go out on date night and work is off topic. And then the other one we have is I'm someone who likes to go to bed early. So Nish is a night owl, and I'm a morning bird. And so we have no, we have a rule now that like you know, about an hour, hour and a half before I go to bed, especially if I'm in the bedroom. He is not allowed to talk to me about work because early days, this would happen where you know, he'd come to the room to say bye to me or whatever. And we talk about work and then I'd be up for like three hours and I'd wake up in the morning so tired and I was like what's happening? Why can't I sleep? It's because I'd be thinking about that work thing that was brought up. So those are like two big rules.

    Elizabeth Stein 19:59
    Since the beginning Purely Elizabeth has been committed to the healing power of food. We believe there's a direct connection between the health of our farms and soil and the health of our food. That is why I'm so excited to announce our newest product launching. Our number one selling our Original Ancient Grain Granola is now available in an 18 ounce value size made with regenerative organic certified coconut oil and coconut sugar. For those who are not familiar with regenerative agriculture, it focuses on improving soil health, which is known to help improve crop yields, biodiversity, carbon emissions and water conservation. You can find our value size at your local Whole Foods Market or on our website at purely elizabeth.com. If you're interested in learning more about our sustainability journey, and how it impacts the delicious food you enjoy, please visit purelyelizabeth.com/journey. Enjoy. Let's talk a little bit about your day. And kind of any routines that you have, any morning routines, any night routines, let's start with that.

    Siff Haider 21:09
    I am a stickler for a morning routine, I feel like it just kind of gets me through the day. And I think I need some structure in order to perform and like have that structured time for myself in order to perform like my best self at work as well. So morning, non negotiables are journaling. I feel like that's my time to be introspective. And kind of, I don't know, like put down what's on my mind like center myself for the day on some sort of movement. So I love going to the gym. So I go to the gym, usually in the morning. Now sometimes I go in the evening as well. But if it's not the gym, then it's a walk like a long walk. So some sort of movement.

    Elizabeth Stein 21:50
    What are you doing in the gym? Strength training or?

    Siff Haider 21:53
    Strength training, yeah. So I strength train three times a week and then I do cardio two times a week and then tennis once a week. So yeah, strength training primarily is what I go to the gym for. So yeah, those are my two big ones. And then while I'm walking, I like to listen to a book or a podcast. So I just love to take in that information and knowledge first thing in the morning. It gets me really like excited and inspired for the day as well. So those are like my my three big ones, I would say.

    Elizabeth Stein 22:22
    Are you in an office or you..

    Siff Haider 22:25
    Our house is our office. Yeah, so we have a back house, actually one of our team members is visiting from Florida. So she's living in our back house for the next two days. And that's also used as our office.

    Elizabeth Stein 22:37
    And how's that been growing a team and doing it remote and all of that.

    Siff Haider 22:44
    So when we started the company, obviously we were like deep in COVID. And we didn't know what to expect. We were also in Toronto. So when we initially started hiring, it was kind of between Toronto and just happened to be LA as well. Now we hire strictly in LA just because this is where we are. And this is kind of where we want to base our team as well. So we work together once a week, sometimes two times a week, but once a week is like absolutely yes. And typically it happened like like some team members come by twice a week, three times a week, whatever. But the once a week is everyone's in office, office is in our house. But it's been fun, honestly, like I think like growing a team and having a really good culture around our company is one of those like very motivating and fulfilling things about being a leader because Nish and I wanted to build a workplace that we always wanted to be a part of. And I think that that's something that we are really proud of having accomplished at Arrae and it's something that we continue to strive to do as we bring on new team members like ensuring that everyone's the right fit. And you know that we kind of nurture the right values as well.

    Elizabeth Stein 23:58
    Yeah, I think I couldn't agree more. I think for me starting out, it was like, I've come from an office environment that was not so great. But I knew immediately like, this is exactly what environment I want to create. It really set the stage for creating an environment that I feel really proud of. Yeah, it's the best. It's the best because even yesterday, like we had our like we have our team come and work at from our place on Wednesdays like that's our in person day. And everyone was leaving. And you know, Nick and I were going somewhere at the same time and we were like, oh my god, like we love our team so much like these people have made the company what it is and like everyone treats the company as if it's their own, which is really like exactly what you want to build as a founder. So it's been something that's so fulfilling, and I'm so grateful for them because we would not be where we are without our team. So as you think about next stages of the business, what excites you the most, and what are you most nervous about?

    Siff Haider 25:04
    Ooh, that's a good question. I think what excites me is continuing to get our products into the hands of people that really want them. I think the most and best part of being a founder is like hearing stories from your customers, you know, and I read a lot of these emails, you know, sometimes Nish and I go into customer support. And when I read things, like, I was not able to go out to eat, without like, severe heartburn until your heartburn capsules came into my life, or I have colitis and your bloat capsules are the only thing that helped me like it these are just things that I'm like, why I like what an honor, that is, you know, so I think just that like continuing to grow and like get to more people is something that really excites me, obviously very excited about new launches and stuff that are coming up, also very excited about optimizing parts of the business, you know, so, for us, we have like a slow and steady release kind of philosophy, where we don't have like six, seven products that we release every year, we do like two, so we like really take our time. And we use the rest of the time to optimize everything else, which is also really exciting because it makes you realize how many different levers you have available to you, as the owner of a company and how much there is to improve upon. So that's really exciting. Challenges, honestly, everything is like there's a challenge every day, you know, and I think I can't point to like one thing that I'm like, I get nervous about or challenges that I like see coming up or anything like that, because I think you go day by day, and you're hit with challenges, and you don't expect them. And I think part and parcel of being an entrepreneur is like learning to deal with those challenges. And I think it makes you very resilient. So I welcome them.

    Elizabeth Stein 27:03
    Totally, I think being one of the best pieces of advice someone gave me at the beginning, who was it was actually Justin from Justin's nut butter had said like, this is going to be you know, a roller coaster. And as even keeled as you can be through it is like the best way. And thankfully, my personality is very even keeled already. So that wasn't really a struggle. And I think that's a great area of success for a lot of entrepreneurs, when that is inherently who you are, versus really feeling those highs and lows, which could ultimately just get you like, it's so stressful to begin with that then that creates a whole different dynamic.

    Siff Haider 27:42
    Well, you know, I think that when someone starts a business, I think that it's pretty natural to feel so emotionally tied to it that you are rocked every time something goes wrong. And every time something goes right, you feel like you're on a high, you know, and I think if you want longevity in your business, a certain degree of stoicism is actually necessary to preserve your mental health, which is, you know, like very sound advice coming from Justin because that, like that's how I feel, you know, and I remember earlier days of the business, like, you know, our first year, oh, my god, like my entire wellbeing was tied to like how the business was performing, you know, and on bad days, it's like everything else would like my entire life would stop and I stopped taking care of myself. And I think over time, like we're going into year four of this business. And I'm like, Okay, I mean, I can't just be thrown around, and I can't be so delicate, you know. And so I think stoicism really helps kind of preserve your mental sanity.

    Elizabeth Stein 28:48
    Absolutely. What are some of the things that you do for yourself really, to feel your best in addition to some of your morning routine things? What do you turn to when you're not feeling you know, or just to keep you 100%?

    Siff Haider 29:02
    I think movement is a big one. Number two is I would say friends and community. I think that that is something that is so incredibly important. And I noticed that at times where I'm like, very down, it's because I've like not turned to people who also nourish my soul. So for m

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