Kareema Batal always knew she wanted to create a life of her own design, and it's safe to say she is doing just that. Today, she is the co-founder of Neo Juicery, an Edmonton-based company that aims to make healthy food more accessible to the busy bees in the world. Kareema and her partner have built a business that not only offers value to its customers, but also inspires and motivates people in the community to take health and wellness into their own hands. Keep scrolling as we dig deep with this week's Woman of Ace, and find out why Donald Trump motivates her (yes, you read that correctly).
ACE: WHAT ARE YOU UP TO? ( YOUR CURRENT HUSTLE )
Kareema: I’m up to a few things right now that are centered around the theme of local food. I pour my heart (and skills) into Neo Juicery with my partner Ala. I am also working on and in conjunction with various food-centered projects to help local food producers and processors bring their vision to reality.
ACE: WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT TO YOU? ( WHERE DID THIS PASSION COME FROM? )
Kareema: Neo Juicery is a manifestation of my commitment to a healthy food system that serves us and the environment we live in. As a Food Scientist, I feel an ethical obligation to bring healthy, wholesome food to people’s tables (whether that be on a large scale or a small one like Neo Juicery) that is free from chemical preservatives, is nutritious, and serves people beyond the immediate gratification of a tasty treat.
It is important to me to contribute to this space simply because I can. Food has become so complex for people and I take that personally because people just like me or you have made significant strides over the past 20 years to overwhelm our bodies with unhealthy food options. Through Neo Juicery, I want to provide Edmontonians – and hopefully beyond – with food choices that are convenient, nutritious and healthy for us and our environment.
ACE: WHAT WAS YOUR DREAM JOB GROWING UP? HOW DO YOU THINK THIS HAS INFLUENCED WHO YOU ARE TODAY?
Kareema: I really don’t know. I can’t recall a time in my childhood years where I had a vision of who and what I wanted to be when I grew up. I do have memories of playing office all the time, stamping things and pretending to make calls on our home phone. That’s definitely a reason why no one could get a hold of us! I also remember in high school being very interested in science and thinking I’d be a doctor one day. I learned about what an Oncologist does in Grade 10 or maybe 11 and most definitely used that to gain some cool points with my friends who all wanted to be boring old family doctors. I was naïve, though, and had no idea what a doctor did.
What I did know for sure is that I wanted to be in charge of my work and my life. That inner drive to be a leader had a significant influence on who I am today. The inherent desire I had to want to excel to leadership roles in everything I did was a fuel that allowed me to experience so many amazing things over the past 11 years. It was also a factor in why I quit so many jobs and felt the need to move on, move faster, and gain more momentum in my career.
ACE: IF YOU COULD DESCRIBE YOURSELF IN ONLY THREE WORDS, WHAT WOULD THEY BE?
Kareema: Determined, innovative, and humble.
ACE: WHO’S YOUR BIGGEST INSPIRATION AND WHY?
Kareema: My inspiration has changed many times, but as of recent, I’d have to say that I am inspired equally by Mayim Bialik and by Donald Trump. I know you’re probably gasping for air right now, but I can explain. It is the shadow that Trump’s figure in the spotlight has created that I am inspired by; most definitely not his accomplishments. Here’s a strategic businessman who has everything in the world – access, influence, power, connection, community, and wealth – and yet he does so little to improve the world and is wreaking havoc on years of progress. After his election and following the daily news of his shenanigans, I am inspired by the opportunities for positive change and growth that his negative actions have created. Women’s empowerment movements have never been stronger because more conversations are being had about women’s issues. I believe more people are inspired by what still needs to be done for our world and that is the positive I choose to feed off. As for Mayim, she’s the best YouTuber ever; one of the most humble people in the spotlight and I admire that quality in people in general; is an amazing mom, scientist and advocate; and she always puts out some of the best public criticism of the world (and Trump) on the internet.
ACE: WHAT DOES THE TERM “BOSS BABE” MEAN TO YOU?
Kareema: To me personally, not a lot. I appreciate the connotation, as it is an empowering term for all the amazing women who are leaders in their own way and that are independent and successful. The term doesn’t resonate with me in that sense as I really don’t feel like I’ve ever been or will be anyone’s boss, and I don’t feel like my personal successes have awarded me any type of independence or empowerment that I didn’t already feel as a woman. I feel too many women think that they can only be awarded the term “Boss Babe” if they own, run, or build a business and work for themselves. I think the term should be awarded, celebrated and shared for all women – regardless of what they do and how they do it – just for being a woman and persevering in a world that is harsh on women, despite much progress.
ACE: HOW DO YOU EMPOWER OTHER WOMEN?
Kareema: Every woman I’ve ever met has an amazing story to tell. I like to listen to those stories and give women the respect and space they deserve to be themselves. Women carry so much responsibility. Even neuroscientists concur that women’s minds are designed differently than men, making women the sex that is built for the tough parts of life - taking responsibility, planning, pain, and foresight. The Boss Babe brain is definitely empowered all on its own!
ACE: WHAT IS THE BEST ADVICE YOU’VE EVER RECEIVED FROM ANOTHER WOMAN?
Kareema: Be you, baby!
ACE: CAN YOU SHARE THE BIGGEST LESSON YOU’VE LEARNED FROM A FAILURE?
Kareema: To always remember that fail on the outside is not what you think it means - every failure is a first attempt in learning. I learned and grew so much from every failure I’ve experienced in my life. However, I did not have the mindfulness to realize that things will be okay in the heat of the moment. The lesson I learned is to stay calm and remember that life does go on, everything happens for a reason, and that you will always come out of every experience better than when you started it. I am now more empowered to take risks and accept failure with open arms because that is what stimulates growth.
ACE: WHEN YOU ARE FEELING OVERWHELMED, WHAT DO YOU DO TO FIND PEACE?
Kareema: I’m not going to lie and say something super fancy and inspirational. I turn to Netflix or a movie of some kind – most likely a Jennifer Aniston movie from the 90’s or 2000’s. Escaping reality for an hour and 45 minutes helps give me perspective on what is making me overwhelmed and how to calm down my paranoid and over-active mind. Jenny is the cure, ladies!
ACE: WHAT LEGACY DO YOU HOPE TO BE REMEMBERED FOR?
Kareema: I want to be remembered for being a good person and creating change – even if it’s just for one person, place, or thing.
ACE: WHERE CAN WE FIND OUT MORE ABOUT YOU SO WE CAN CONTINUE TO SUPPORT YOU?
Kareema: I am diligent about updating my LinkedIn and love connecting with people on that platform. I JUST created a personal Instagram account (@whatrhymeswithfood) and maybe one day I’ll post something on there. I run Neo Juicery’s social media, so you can definitely find me on there!
Stay connected with Kareema: @neojuicery