By Bebegol Lari
Marjan Sarshar was born and raised in Tehran, Iran before escaping to the U.S. as a teenager. Marjan’s journey as a refugee and immigrant has brought many obstacles; however, she considers them a blessing and positive learning experience. Kreation Organic was born out of the love of a single mother raising two daughters and a mission to put their well-being first, which transcended into a larger passion to nurture her community and herself. Marjan built an empire of thriving lifestyle kafes and organic juice bars from the ground up in Los Angeles, and she does not plan on slowing down anytime soon. Marjan is now putting her lifelong dreams into action by giving back to the community through providing healthy, local, environmentally sustainable options, while pushing toward social change and political activism.
Were you always drawn to health and wellness?
Natural ingredients and homeopathic remedies are ingrained in Persian culture and have been used for thousands of years to cure or alleviate ailments before modern medicine. Throughout my upbringing, these remedies were used as a preventative measure against illness and often as an alternative to antibiotics. Iranians use garlic, turmeric, chicken soup, lemon, fermented foods, dried fruits, and herbs in every recipe, and the food was naturally organic. I learned firsthand the power of food and its impact on one’s health.
Did you cook at home as a family?
In my family food is everything. If you respect someone, you make them good food. Growing up, my Dad’s way of expressing love was through cooking for me and my siblings. He often made vegetarian rice with lots of fresh herbs and lentils. My Mom was also a wonderful cook. Fresh and healthy home-cooked meals have been a top priority for my children. I love entertaining and creating a sense of family and home for my guests as well. Nothing brings people together like good food.
Tell us more about the inspiration for launching Kreation Organic?
Many sparks ignited the flame. I wanted to follow my passion for health, sustainability, and social change, positively contribute to my community, and still spend quality time with my kids. At the time, there were not many healthy, organic options around. I couldn’t find anywhere, outside of my home, that I trusted to take my family and I wouldn’t settle for less than the best. I had the passion and drive to be a businesswoman with a career I was proud of, and accepted the challenges I knew would arise from being a minority woman in a man’s field. I drew a lot of inspiration from Tony Robbins, Rumi, the Landmark Forum personal development and other self-help and spiritual growth programs. My own personal struggles with yoyo diets, maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle also fueled my passion.
How did you finally break the cycle of yo-yo diets?
I acknowledged this shortcoming instead of blaming myself. I used to get into a vicious cycle of emotional eating—using food as a coping mechanism. I tried practically every fad diet there was, until I realized that they were not sustainable. In order to maintain a healthy lifestyle, I switched to a consistent diet of clean, organic food, and made it accessible at all times. Today, my cravings are not as bad—but it is definitely an ongoing journey.
What does self-care and self-love really mean to you?
They go hand-in-hand. In order to love and care for yourself, you must take care of your body and mind through balance, clean eating, doing activities that make you feel good and build your confidence, and surrounding yourself with positivity. Self-love is also a continuous journey of learning and spiritual growth. I continue to develop my skills from University of Santa Monica as spiritual coach and educate myself by traveling around the world. That is self-care and self-love to me: doing things that I love while learning and growing.
Is any food off limits to you?
I eat everything! I do 80/20 (good/bad), but my goal is to reach 90/10. I’m very social and I travel a lot so it’s not humanly possible for me to eat clean all the time—everything in moderation. When traveling, I explore new and exciting foods and eat what others are eating. I can’t resist a good pasta! However, I portion control and remind myself that imperfection is beautiful, and as long as I feel good and happy, it is okay to “cheat” here and there.
What does a cheat day look like for you?
French fries, chips, Persian rice, and a good tequila!
Did you self-educate yourself on what ingredients were good for certain ailments?
A lot of my knowledge stems from cultural traditions. I’ve also read many recipe and self-motivation books, attended nutrition and health courses, traveled, and worked with nutritionists and other knowledgeable people in the health and food world. At Kreation, we promote a healthier lifestyle of using food as medicine instead of relying solely on pharmaceuticals as a band-aid for root causes. Many health related issues can be fixed with simple lifestyle changes. Of course, not everything can be healed with food, but it’s a great start.
Did you create all of the recipes?
They all have my influence and direction, but I also have the best doctors, nutritionists, healers, a great team of consultants and our beautiful Kreation family contributing their love and input. It takes a village to come up with all of these ideas, and I always select the best, most knowledgeable, reliable people based on their trade or experience. I did a lot of research by traveling and trying wellness centers around the world, not to mention the countless amazing fresh health food stores I’ve visited globally. So, it’s a combination of Persian culture and my experiences, well-educated people, and amazing employees from different ethnicities and backgrounds.
When did you decide to expand the business?
Shortly after opening; people were begging us to open in their neighborhood! We take pride in being one of the first sustainable certified green restaurants in Santa Monica. In the beginning stages of expansion, many men in the business didn’t take me seriously simply because I am a woman. I experienced harassment and undermining of my talents and abilities. It took a lot of courage for me to move forward, continue expanding and show people that an immigrant woman can be just as successful, if not more so, than a man. I want to be an example to other immigrants and minority women that you can succeed in America, no matter who you are, as long as you have the courage, dedication, and passion.
What plans does Kreation have now?
Continuing to make a positive impact in our community, creating an amazing culture for our Kreation family, and bringing social change and awareness. We are focused on giving back to the environment and promoting sustainability through minimizing plastic waste and giving $1 cash back for each glass bottle returned. What started off as a healthy marketplace, restaurant, and juice-bar, is now a widely-known lifestyle brand. We now roast our own coffee, we’re developing skincare products, and have a healthy cold-pressed juice-infused cocktail bar in Brentwood. Every day we are expanding with no plans to franchise our family business. We proudly just launched the Kreation Foundation, a nonprofit organization which raises funds and brings awareness to environmental issues, education in underprivileged communities, women and minority rights, immigration, emergency supplies for natural disasters, and many other causes that we are passionate about.
What are you most grateful for?
I’m grateful for the abundance of opportunity, and I’m humbled by the support and love we receive from our community. I am so grateful people support my vision and work with me to make people more health conscious and make healthy food and a healthy lifestyle so accessible. My mission is that every day I will work to make this company a better company than the day before.
What is your greatest achievement so far?
I’m someone that any single mother, any immigrant, any person who is an outsider or an outcast can look up to and say, “If Marjan can do it, I can do it”! I want to be someone that people know they can turn to for support in following their dreams.