At just 29 years of age, she is a mother to two daughters under the age of two, an exemplary graduate of the iconic Tante Marie Culinary Academy and a pioneer in the movement towards female equality in business.
Zahra took on the task of launching her debut eatery, Feya Café Bond Street, just months after the birth of her first daughter in 2018. Following unprecedented success, DIY dessert parlour and interior masterpiece DYCE was opened in quick succession, followed by flagship Feya Knightsbridge in Dec 2019.
“I always knew that the challenge of consecutively launching my business whilst nurturing two young children was going to be tough, but I believed in my vision and I also recognised I had the opportunity to demonstrate that it’s possible to do both, whilst inspiring others to do the same.”
Her extraordinary talents as an entrepreneur, chef & mother have earned her nominations for Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2019 (Federation of Small Businesses UK), London Business Mother of the Year 2020 (Venus Awards) and Business Owner of the Year & Businesswoman of the Year at the National Women’s Business Awards 2020.
Originally from Pakistan, Zahra moved to Canada as a teenager before she came to London to pursue her passion for the culinary arts. At 23, she joined the Tante Marie Culinary Academy Cordon Bleu Diploma course in September 2014 and was the only Pakistani student that year and the only female Pakistani student the school has ever had.
“I always had a passion for travel and cuisine, I was moving around the globe and weighing up options of where to settle, but on arrival, I instantly knew London was the place. Unfortunately, the restaurant industry was and remains to be very male dominated. I knew that I had a challenge ahead of me, even more so as a female in an ethnic minority with a pre-conceived image of a traditional cook. I also had a challenge on a personal level too; in my culture being a professional means you pursue a very clear career path, in professions such as medicine or law. It took some time for my family to have faith in my new venture, but I was confident in my business plan.”
An innovator in her field, Zahra was quick to break the mould surrounding the pressures of professional careers expectations within her culture. Shaking the stereotypical perception and redefining what professional means in modern day society, Zahra went on to develop something revolutionary as a female chef.
In addition to this, Feya has launched it’s own retail line, including jams, chocolates, teas, biscuits and hot chocolates that will support the Feya Cares initiative – an initiative aimed to empower young women – through thought-provoking packaging that highlight the importance of female empowerment and 10% of the profits from sale going to the Young Women’s Trust.
With hospitality being hit hard this past year, Zahra is doing her best to over adversity and is continuing to create new opportunities amongst the chaos.
“An entrepreneur at heart and with the restaurant industry hugely impacted, I knew we had to adjust our business model during the Covid crisis. I’ve always dreamed of having my own retail line, but with the restaurant closed we had the opportunity to turn our focus and accelerate the process. This was also a clear opportunity to formalise our own initiative, Feya Cares, to give something back to young females just starting on their career path.”