Like many Americans, I celebrated the Memorial Day holiday with a rooftop barbecue and friends, old and new. Among the latter, the owner of a new photography studio (the roof on which we were hosted), several photographers and even more fashionable ladies — models, entrepreneurs and one Fatima Fazal.
While the grill heated up, a watermelon salad with feta and mint was placed on the table. Having dined with Fatima before, no other guest made a go for the dish until she started passing out neon heart-shaped fork/spoon/knife-hybrid utensils. "What are these?!" I squealed — and she introduced me to her brainchild, Heart Part. After enjoying so many outdoor summer soirees and then regretting the amount of paper and plasticware left behind, Fazal created the reusable, biodegradable serving option in an effort to eat with (adorable) conscience. "People don't throw away cute utensils," she told me. #truth
It's no surprise someone with such genius serving solutions also happens to rock genius style. Over said watermelon salad and a few Pacificos, I chatted with Fatima to learn more about her business and style savvy.
- Name: Fatima Fazal
- Age: 30
- Hometown: The burbs of London town
- Claim to Fame: Creator & Founder of iHeart THIS
Julie Bensman: Tell me the 'Heart Part' story. How did the idea come about?
Fatima Fazal: For me, food is emotional and romantic and nourishes us in so many ways. I actually grew up in a big old Indian family, where eating was intimate and communal. We ate with our hands. We would tear apart a chappati and use it as a utensil to scoop up our food. When I moved to New York, it was very typical to order food for delivery, eat on the go or eat at my desk. I wanted to inject that romance and emotion of mealtime into the "convenient" way we were eating. So I created the Heart Part: a heart-shaped utensil that you physically have to break open in order to reveal two forks, two knives and two scoops. Heart Parts are biodegradable, reusable and made with 66% less plastic than regular plastic cutlery kits. We also donate a percentage of our profits to feed families affected by malnutrition around the world.
JB: What has been the public reaction?
FF: Pretty overwhelming. Strangers around the world have called or emailed to invite me over to share dinner with them. I’ve had Girl Scouts send me photos of the group using them in a 'table manners' class. I’ve had a nurse feed 400 kids in a cancer ward on Valentine’s Day with them. The stories of how such a small product has touched so many people is what keeps me motivated to keep spreading the love.
JB: Where are the products sold?
FF: You can find Heart Parts on our website, but if you are in NYC and an impulse buyer like myself, I would head to the MoMA Design Store, Thomas Sires, The Brooklyn Museum or The Future Perfect. Outside of New York, they are slowly journeying around the world, and are sold in boutiques across the US, as well as in Canada, Malaysia, Australia and one of my favorite stores in Paris, Colette!
JB: What's the best advice you could give to a young entrepreneur?
FF: To be fearless. And follow your gut (or I should say — follow your heart!). I could also tell you, in the beginning, you will probably work harder than you imagined possible. And get paid less than you hoped. Yes, things go wrong and sometimes you have to google the answers, but if you approach things with courage and listen to your intuition, you’ll surprise and amaze yourself.
JB: Which young creatives are you really excited about right now?
FF: I love what Fiona and Allison are doing at Thomas Sires – they have a great eye. I’m also in love with a brand I discovered on my last trip to India: 11-11/ eleven eleven by CellDSGN. The whole line is rooted in retaining and enhancing the inherent quality of the fabrics through Indian craftsmanship. Each garment is a tightly-curated effort, handcrafted with interesting materials and so thoughtful.
JB: What's your guilty pleasure?
FF: Dark chocolate + sea salt — in a gelato, on a pretzel or just a bar of it from the deli. I'm obsessed.
JB: Which item will you never leave home without?
FF: A Heart Part! And some kick-ass hot-pink lipstick.