We had the good fortune of connecting with Maham Qureshi and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Maham, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
Starting my own business was definitely one of the biggest and hardest decisions I have ever made. It is also the most rewarding decision I have ever made.
Since the beginning, I had always known that I wanted to start my own thing but the time just didn’t feel right.
In 2021 when I started Shakkar I had already been working in the food industry for a couple of years. It was a very sweet yet frustrating experience. I enjoyed the people that I worked with but missed the creative freedom that I longed for. Going to work just meant finishing a production list which started sucking the joy out of baking for me.
I would always be tired and started feeling my back suffer due to the workload and exertion of working in a kitchen. During that time in my life, I started questioning if it was really worth it. If I was eventually going to break my back why not do something for myself and not another company that I am only an employee for.
I no longer wanted to make products that didn’t make me happy. I wanted my voice to be heard and my creativity to be seen. Being a female in the industry we are often not given that opportunity, Our words sadly do not hold the same weight as everyone else and that is why I started Shakkar to showcase my voice and the voice for other females in the industry.
What should our readers know about your business?
We are a Houston-based Croissanterie (Croissant Bakery) and we do everything croissants. At Shakkar we love creating new and distinct flavors and thinking outside the box. We are known for our Croissant Cube and Croissant Cereal. If I was to describe Shakkar I would say we are a luxury croissant brand that wants to sell the best product. Our butter is sourced from France and we make sure all our ingredients are of the highest quality. We do not believe in skimping out on quality and our customers can attest to that.
Shakkar started from our home in August 2021. We used social media as our source of getting the word out and all orders were taken through our website. Much to our surprise people from all over Houston started driving over to get their croissant boxes. I guess that is the beauty of the community that we live in.
By January we had completely outgrown the house and started renting the kitchen at Canary Cafe and that is where we are based off of right now. We still continue to take orders online but also supply croissants to Canary Cafe, Wild, Grinders, Urban Brew, and Segundo. Right now we have almost outgrown our current location too and are figuring out the next step for us.
All the growth has been so amazing and exciting but also scary. It started off with me just working from home and now we have a 5 people team that is expanding every day. It is so humbling to see the dream become a reality. We have had people visit from other cities and states and every time I am so grateful for everyone who supports my dream.
It gives us more motivation to keep moving forward and continue raising the bar of what we do.
That is what Shakkar as a brand is. We are not afraid to try new things and bring out crazy products. We love creating. Everyone on our team can attest to that. We love throwing random ideas out and brainstorming and creating together. I think that is what makes us unique and that is why I started Shakkar. So everyone would have a voice.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Haha, I am big on food so we are definitely going to all the amazing restaurants in Houston. Starting with Nancy’s Hustle which has to be one of my favorites!! Of course, Squable, Uchi, and you cant come to Texas and not have Texas Barbecue so Pinkertons has to make the list. My Pakistani roots would not let proud if we didn’t go to Aga’s at least once!! If you haven’t been you definitely need to go. Their Goat Chops are DIVINE!!
Besides food, I would definitely take them on long drives throughout Houston. It still boggles me how you can drive for an hour and still be in Houston.
We would have to go to the Gerald D. Hines Waterwall and the Space Center.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
This is a tough one. There are so many individuals who have played such a crucial role in my story. It takes a village to make anything work. I don’t think I would be anywhere without my family. My parents are the ones who have always raised me to not settle for less. My first exposure to baking was from my Mom. Even though she wasn’t a baker she would sit for long hours and watch Nigella Lawson with me and that is where I developed my interest in baking. It was not long after that I brought home an order for 500 hundred cupcakes and my Dad after staring at me for a while was like ok now what do we need to get to make this happen. They have always shown me not to give up.
Not many know that I run Shakkar along with my husband, Ali. The food industry is far from his realm of hobbies yet he helps me do everything from paperwork to shaping croissants, doing bake-offs, packing, and delivering. He will stay up night making it all possible. The success and growth of Shakkar is highly owed to him and his support. He is as much a part of it as I am.
Thirdly I owe a huge shout-out to Chef Matthieu Cabon, who has been my mentor since my time at Magnol. He has taught me immense patience and wisdom. He has supported me through a lot and continues to. Even though he is no longer in Houston we talk often discussing ways to get better and better. His work ethic is one that i admire and hope to achieve.
Catherine Li Instagram: @hellocatty