By Deepthi Nair Khaleej Times, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Kamilla Omarzay, founder of "The Snack Society" was inspired to create the online initiative which promotes "eating clean" after suffering stomach problems....problems she was able to treat by changing her diet.
Eating clean does not mean missing out on the best things in life. This is the motto of The Snack Society, an online initiative in Dubai which offers treats free of refined sugar, gluten, dairy, additives and preservatives.
"The Snack Society is a great platform where I can share my love for healthy eating and show everyone that it can be made simple, delicious and doesn't have to break the bank," says Kamilla Omarzay, founder of The Snack Society.
It was health woes that inspired Omarzay to try out a different way of eating. "I have suffered from stomach problems since I was 20.
I have tried all sorts of conventional and Ayurvedic treatments but to no avail. In May 2015, I visited a doctor who specialises in traditional Chinese medicine and she recommended I go off gluten, dairy and follow a plant-based diet," she recalls.
Removing these from her diet proved to be even harder after she strolled through the 'gluten-free, dairy-free and organic' aisles in supermarkets.
Not only were the desserts overpriced, but tasteless as well, she found. This was when Omarzay decided to bake healthy versions of popular desserts and chocolate bars such as Mars, Bounty, Snickers and Twix.
"In the beginning, it was challenging to adjust, but once I felt the difference and how my symptoms started to lessen, I felt amazing and continued eating this way.
I would share my home-made recipes with family and friends and they absolutely loved it and it felt natural to launch into a business," she adds.
The entrepreneur launched The Snack Society in March 2016 and it has grown into a team of three people now.
"I think it's great for people who are watching their weight. A lot of people are now realising that eating all that sugar, dairy and gluten is really bad for them. But, how do you give up all that without being naughty every now and again? The Snack Society has a good-for-you answer to every naughty indulgence you can think of. By giving up all the processed and junk snacks and desserts, it could potentially lower diabetes and obesity rates drastically," Omarzay points out.
She looks up to British food blogger 'Deliciously Ella' as her business role model. "She started her empire as a food blogger and has turned into an entrepreneur now. She is very inspiring and at the same time very grounded and genuine," adds Omarzay.
The Snack Society founder aims to branch out her initiative into schools, gyms, fitness centres and coffee shops. "Many times, you catch up with a friend or have a meeting in a coffee shop and you just want a quick snack to go with your coffee. I also feel that schools are all introducing the health initiative without providing alternatives to children. Kids still want their cake and chocolates, so if there's a healthier version, why not?," she asks.
Omarzay dipped into her personal savings to launch The Snack Society. "I had to use that money as I knew this is going to be a success. When you are so passionate about something, it's bound to work out in the end," she adds.
Sharing tips about her entrepreneurial journey so far, Omarzay says: "It is not easy to turn an idea from scratch into a full-fledged business. It gets challenging and at times you will feel like giving up. The key is to keep going no matter how many times you get knocked down and no matter how much you want to give up."
The entrepreneur also points out that there is not much funding and opportunities available for expatriates in the UAE if they want to start a business, while there are lots of opportunities for UAE nationals.
Omarzay waxes eloquent on the benefits of leveraging smart media for business development.
"Social media is a great platform for startups. It has helped my business a lot since I've started. Instagram is the new search engine. When you want to search something, a lot of people first go to Instagram before Google. I think digital media is the way forward."