Herbaland named Large Business of the Year:
Aisha Yang and her husband Musharaf Syed had only $8,000 to their name when they first made their home in Richmond 20 years ago.
Today, they own one of Canada’s leading producers of nutritional products, exporting more than 40 million bottles of nutritional gummies a year to 40 countries worldwide.
Last week, the couple was recognized by the Richmond Chamber of Commerce, winning the Large Business of the Year Award at the chamber’s annual Business Excellence Awards gala.
But despite these milestones, Yang is most proud of the fact her family’s business supports 220 other families, helping them not only put food on the table and pay the bills, but also thrive in this community.
“We are a privately owned business, and a lot of people want to invest in us, but the money itself doesn’t motivate us. In fact, it’s about supporting each other and building a community together,” said Yang.
She said what gives her the greatest satisfaction is hearing that her employees don’t need to worry about just getting by, but can send money back to their family in their home country or support their loved ones to pursue higher education in Canada.
Yang said this matters to her because her whole nutritional gummy empire was built upon these two values: family and community.
“We started from a very humble beginning when we first came to Canada. We jumped between many random jobs to survive,” recalled Yang.
When their first and second children were born, they could still scrape by. But after the third, they realized the daycare costs would put them at a deficit.
“And we have no relatives here to look after our children. So we needed a backup plan.”
That’s when Yang came up with what turned out to be the bright idea of starting their own nutritional supplement company.
Syed had a nutraceutical background and had worked in the industry for years.
In 2009, Herbaland was born, and Yang began working long days, seven days a week, putting labels on products and overseeing production lines — all the while holding her son in her arms.
As the company gained traction, Yang saw international potential particularly given the global market’s trust in the Canadian nutrition industry, said Yang.
That’s when she and her husband began flying abroad to attend international trade shows.
“I am from Taiwan and my husband is from Pakistan, so I had to ask my relatives from Taiwan to take a flight to Canada to look after our three children,” laughed Yang.
Looking back on her journey of entrepreneurship, Yang said it has been turbulent, with many highs and lows, but has been a voyage well worth taking.
“It has been unbelievable. Sometimes when we walk into the factory, we are like, ‘Wow, is this our factory,’” laughed Yang.
Yang said her vision for Herbaland is to be the number one nutritional gummy producer in the global market and introduce a healthy Canadian lifestyle to the world.
Other winners on the night were:
Touchstone Family Association named Association of the Year;
Hemlock Harling Distribution Inc. named Green Business of the Year;
The Sheraton Vancouver Airport Hotel won the Outstanding Workplace of the Year Award;
Ian Wan is Young Entrepreneur of the Year;
Bright Ideas Event Agency named Innovative Enterprise of the Year;
Canadian Ecosystem Institute named New Business of the Year;
Sher-E Punjab Radio AM 600 is Small Business of the Year;
Steveston Seafood House “catches” Mid-Size Business of the Year;
Terra Nova Medical Clinic named Business Leadership of the Year.