Ayman Saifi, owner of A Spice Affair in Montreal
Spice merchant Ayman Saifi built his business by creatively fulfilling his customers’ culinary needs. And when the pandemic hit, his company A Spice Affair got creative when it came to its handling of employee affairs. By taking genuine care of his people, Saifi took great care of his business. Learn how they all thrived.
“Don’t ever stop chasing your goals, dreams and do NOT let your creativity die. We’ve all gone through hardships and times where our creative juices seem to have been drained, but there’s always learning experiences and time to reflect on what brings the best out of us!” – Ayman Saifi owner of A Spice Affair.
It could be argued that Ayman Saifi was born with the entrepreneurial spirit; his family has been in the spice trade for well over 100 years. After graduating from school, he became a fourth-generation spice merchant and joined his father in the family business. In 2016, he took over and launched A Spice Affair. Its goal was to turn novice home cooks into seasoned professionals. This mission resonated with department stores who have grown to represent half of A Spice Affair’s sales. When the pandemic hit, it forced these same retailers to close down, and Saifi to refocus his business online.
When ramping up his eCommerce site, Saifi saw an opportunity to make people’s imposed time at home more fun. “From our latest Bold BBQ or Arabian Nights kits to our Plant-Based Recipes Pro Kit, we’re putting our best foot forward to help our customers cook restaurant quality meals at home.” The response was phenomenal, and customers have been eating up these new gourmet products.
His spices have become people’s go-to. For him, the same could be said of his employees; they’re the foundation of his business. He knew he had to ensure they would be properly taken care of during the pandemic. And like a cook, he got creative. He immediately implemented stricter safety and hygiene measures, and reduced the number of employees in the factory to allow for safe distancing. Saifi also provided rides for employees who relied on public transit and gave his team of essential workers a 10% premium on their salaries. Staff have appreciated all that he’s done, and it’s encouraged them to stay positive during this challenging time.
Saifi’s leadership and creativity has allowed A Spice Affair to burgeon across North America, and he feels incredibly optimistic even in today’s crisis. “Focus on the best side of you and stay positive. Life has a way of working things out. I may sound a little out of touch, but we cannot change what’s out of our control. We can only control how we react to it and move forward from there.”
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