Every morning for the past seven years, Aisha Chottani has started her day with a 10-minute meditation. As the creator of the meditation drink aptly called Moment, this comes as no surprise.
Launched last June with her husband Faheem Kajee, the lively beverage brand quickly permeated her into the wellness beverage industry. But the idea originated in a very different space – the McKinsey offices, where Chottani describes long hours and days without interruption. “When I needed to calm down and take a moment in the afternoon, I would have something sweet or caffeinated, but that wouldn’t help me get through the day,” Chottani tells UKTN. Instead, she tried swapping her mid-afternoon pick-me-up for adaptogens and meditation and noticed a marked change in her sanity, “my ability to focus, to be creative – I was a completely different person, ”she says. “I realized that it’s not the caffeine that keeps you focused, you need a calm mind to be able to think clearly – that’s when you can be at your best.” .
“It was a feeling that I wanted to make accessible to everyone,” Chottani tells UKTN. But sharing his new discovery was not enough to inspire colleagues and friends to engage in meditation. “People understand, they understand that meditation is effective,” Chottani says, “But starting the practice is difficult and uncomfortable, and sometimes intimidating.” It is for this reason that the entrepreneur decided to devote his life to making meditation more accessible. For Chottani, that meant creating a drink that could help others experience that sense of clarity that she found within herself.
Through focus groups with customers and rigorous testing, the company has developed a formulation scientifically proven to promote alpha brain waves associated with deep thinking and creativity. How do you feel when these brain waves are activated? Chottani describes it as that feeling when you are in the shower and your mind wanders into deep thought. “It’s very difficult to get into this state,” Chottani tells UKTN, “but meditation helps; our wording helps. “
While many of Moment’s ingredients – like the nootropic L-theanine, known to improve focus and the anti-stress adaptogen Ashwagandha – have become trending staples in wellness drinks, Chottani’s inspiration comes from home. Growing up in Pakistan, she watched her mother use Ayurvedic recipes with Ashwagandha and Tulsi. “It’s so interesting to see people going back to their roots,” Chottani says. “As the world goes global, we are starting to see the benefits of things we have forgotten or never paid attention to.”
When asked what Chottani thinks of wellness brands embracing the old ways she grew up with, the entrepreneur told UKTN it all depends on intention, “if you learn about other cultures and traditions and bring them in from other parts of the world to help you. people in a respectful manner is acceptable. I actually think it’s really positive to learn from each other.
Learning and sharing other cultures is precisely what makes Moment so special for Chottani. While the Tulsi Lemon flavor is a twist of the nimbu pani, a popular drink in Pakistan, the inspiration for the blood orange Rooibos came from four years living in the native South Africa of its partner, a known country. for its rooibos tea. The hibiscus dragon fruit is an ode to their honeymoon trip through Southeast Asia, where they noticed the fruit was common in popular drinks. Chottani tells UKTN they plan to develop new flavors with ingredients from other cultures this year, “even places we haven’t been,” she says. “Moment is more than just a drink, it’s a way to bring different parts of the world together.”
If there was a time to launch a drink designed to unite people and encourage mindfulness, 2020 surely seems like the right time. Even before COVID-19 wreaked havoc on people’s mental health, Chottani noticed that everyday life was becoming more and more stressful for everyone. “There is so much distraction and noise in life,” Chottani says, “Sometimes your neurological system is stressed out without you even realizing it.” So designing a cure for persistent stress meant Moment had exactly what people needed when the pandemic hit. They could help their customers even more by “offering a solution to some of the pressures people were feeling during COVID-19,” Chottani says.
After two years of planning and showcasing the concept on Shark Tank in November 2019, Moment was slated to debut in April 2020. Then, as Chottani says, “the world turned right before we were about to do it. launch, ”forcing Moment to take a direct-to-consumer business approach. That didn’t seem to compromise Moment’s immediate success, the startup was named one of the 45 Best Food Startups last year and won the Best Starter Drink at the BevNET New Beverage Showdown 2020.
While the last-minute pivot in responding to the pandemic challenged the small business, the online model eliminated geographic constraints for customers wanting to try the product. Chottani says he made the launch of Moment during COVID-19 incredibly rewarding. “Clients will write me three page emails telling me how Moment has impacted their lives – this is the most wonderful.”
The pandemic allowed Chottani to do exactly what she had planned from day one: make meditation more accessible. That’s why they’ve partnered up with Calm Classroom, an organization that trains kids in mindfulness skills across the country. The entrepreneur is hoping that greater awareness of the benefits of meditation will start the conversation about mental health, another of the silver liners of the pandemic she has witnessed over the past year.
Previously, the CEO remarked that “being on 100% of the time was considered a good thing and a success”. Now that COVID-19 has forced people to pause and take a step back, Chottani says it’s become more normal not to be well; to admit that you feel stressed and ask for help. “I don’t mean serious help,” Chottani says, “even little things like, ‘hey, let’s have a drink to feel better.'”
But Chottani wants to be clear, Moment is not a substitute for meditation, “it helps you access the same feeling, it’s a gateway. The CEO says she will have a moment in the afternoon when her focus begins to wane, and many people use her as a transition marker; to help fall into meditation or prolong the feeling afterwards. Chottani has found Moment useful for adding structure to the lockdown days where she says “everything is mixed up.” “In the evenings and on weekends, I have Moment as a transition point,” explains Chottani. “At 7:00 pm, I’m going to have a moment and take a break, I’m not going to work.”
When not busy running Moment, Chottani says she takes longer to experiment with different botanicals and adaptogens in the kitchen. The Entrepreneur insists his spontaneous sampling is “just out of curiosity,” but with two new flavors on the horizon this year, we feel like Chottani’s quarantine creations have our future moments in mind.