This is an interview with Sherine El Hashemi who 2 months ago set up the most delicious gourmet salad company in Buenos Aires. The interview provides an insight into her unique story and her inspiration. She also shares her tips for aspiring entrepreneurs. If there is one thing you need to do this week, it is to order a salad from The Travelling Green’s (you can get it delivered to your door as well!).
How would you define The Travelling Greens and where did the idea come from?
The idea came many years ago when I could not find a good salad here, this became a reoccurring thought over many years. I have known for a while that with my passion and experience for cooking, that this is what I want to do. Also my friends kept encouraging me to open something after tasting my salads and middle eastern dishes. Finally, this year I had the time that I could create the company. The Travelling Greens is basically, rich, fresh and gourmet salads which take inspiration from ingredients and flavours from my mother’s amazing cooking and things that I have experienced throughout my live.
How do you feel the process of turning The Travelling Greens into a real company has been and what have been your biggest challenges?
It’s now been 2 months since we opened and I feel like everything has been going well. I think for me the biggest challenge has been the social media and marketing but that is getting easier. Also, until now I have been doing everything; making, delivering and marketing. Now however, I have got a moto guy to do the deliveries which means I can just focus on making the salads, which is what I love the most.
What do you attribute to your success so far?
Marketing and branding has obviously been very important but I am sure that the most important thing is the actual salads. I know this because I now have the same customers coming to me over and over again. This makes me proud because it shows that they really like the salads.
Where did the name The Travelling Green’s come from?
I used to be a backpacker for many years and so each salad represents places that I have been and things I love. For example, Zicatela (the name of one of the salads) is a beautiful beach in Mexico. Also the ‘travelling’ part represents the fact that we do delivery
How does life, and in particular business life in Buenos Aires compare to Canada?
It’s really different! At the moment I am very busy, there is so much to think about when you are setting up a company and I have a 2-year-old daughter as well. It is my passion though so I love every bit of it. In Canada I worked for 13 years in restaurants and bars so I know how the back of house works and I have been able to use a lot of this experience to help me in my work today.
Why did you choose to setup The Travelling Greens in Buenos Aires and how is The Travelling Greens different to other salad companies that already exist here?
I have now been living here for 10 years and I plan to stay here for a long time. I feel like in Argentina they always have the same food and everyone loves salad, so I don’t understand why no one has done this before. There are so many ways to make salads so I feel like there is huge potential and in the next few years the market will grow a lot. I am really happy to be the first one and I guess this is what makes us different.
For you, what are the core values of The Travelling Greens and what is your key motivation towards success?
What I notice so much in Argentina is that you can go and eat somewhere in Buenos Aires and it will be delicious and you go back the next day and it will be completely different. That for me is something I do not like, the quality of my salads never changes. I look at every salad to make sure it is perfect. Also a lot of what I believe in comes from my mother, who is an amazing cook, and the origins of my family. For instance, I have a family in Egypt so the hummus is a secret family recipe from there. These subtle flavours are very important to me and the future of The Travelling Greens.
Currently you just have one depot in Palermo. What is your vision and where do you see yourself in the next few years?
I next stage is to get a little shop with a few tables where people can eat and I will also run the delivery from there. Eventually I hope we will have a few places across the city! This would be great because I am now getting orders from all over the city and right now I cannot reach certain downtown areas, even though the market there is huge.
What is your message for young Argentinians who want to become entrepreneurs?
You need to follow your heart. I have had this idea for many years now and the hardest part was deciding to actually do it! It is easy to be scared of the challenges but if you don’t do what you love, there is no point in doing it. I don’t feel like it is work because I love it and I have been able to be creative.
Why do you think Buenos Aires is a good place to have a business like yours?
Recently a guy who owns a load of restaurants here said that Buenos Aires is a really generous place if you want to start a business because you can just do it and see if it works out first, and then you can worry about doing things more officially. Therefore, you can effectively try it out first without incurring too many costs and this allows you to be flexible and react to different things at the beginning. For me I have an advantage because I have seen companies like The Travelling Green’s be successful in Canada and US. Here the market is more immature so there are lots more opportunities if you have a good idea. It is also cheaper and easier here but there are challenges such as, inflation. However, as we grow I will be able to get the costs cheaper.