Mar 18, 2021
CEO and Founder of Mason Dixie Biscuit Co - Ayeshah
Choosing a career path is
challenging. Not everyone has the opportunities and means that
others enjoy, which can further limit our career choices. You may
even start on one path, only to end up with a completely different
career than what you intended.
In today’s episode, Ayeshah
Abuelhiga shares her serendipitous journey toward being an
entrepreneur. She talks about how she went from having a successful
pop-up store to a successful big-time business. Ayeshah also shares
some of the challenges she faced and how she keeps her busy life
If you are an aspiring
entrepreneur or have a business of your own, then this episode is
Here are three reasons why you should listen to the
- Gain valuable insights from Ayeshah’s journey
as an entrepreneur.
- Discover the most challenging part of being an
- Learn how to have a balanced life.
- Ayeshah grew up in an underprivileged
lifestyle. She was forced to go to college but had no idea what
- Her career options were doctor or lawyer, but
she did not want to be either of those. She went into international
- Different opportunities opened up to her when
she started working to support herself.
- Her fine dining experience at Passion Foods was
her favorite work. She learned a lot, and it influenced how she
operates her business until today.
How Ayesha Started Her Pop-Up
- Ayeshah left a well-paying job because she
wanted to be her own boss. She went back to her roots in
- She was inspired by her parents carrying out
and serving comfort food to people.
- She came up with the concept of Mason Dixie and
started with biscuits inspired by the Panera
- Before the pop-up, Ayeshah was in a Kickstarter
campaign. She gained attention, and people wanted to taste her
- She teamed up with a guy who owned a gelato
factory who wanted to promote his coffee. Her pop-up store became
The Pop-up Experience
- There was a long line of people, which led to
Ayeshah holding a semi-permanent pop-up store at a food
- At the food hall, Ayeshah was discovered by
Whole Foods. They offered to launch her consumer product
- The product line was not her initial goal, but
it happened because of the people’s attention to and enjoyment of
- There was no contract at Whole Foods, and it
was tough to stay on top and continue to grow, but it was
- Her products started to take on the market
share, and she was considered a competitor.
First Disappointments and Setbacks
- When they first launched the product line,
Ayeshah had no idea that the baking powder had aluminum, and
neither did Whole Foods.
- When authorities started doing label scans,
they were flagged for the presence of aluminum in the
- It cost a lot of money, and they had to
- Nevertheless, it was a massive opportunity for
the company to be the cleanest label biscuit.
Pursuing the Business
- At first, the product line was great for
marketing the restaurant, but Ayeshah saw how much money they were
- Ayeshah and her team went to Southern grocery
stores and walked away with 1,100 stores.
- Her products were growing a lot in sales in the
- She could not manage to get ahead of the demand
and thought of finding a manufacturer.
The Most Challenging Part of
- The most challenging part is knowing when and
who to hire.
- You have to trust your gut and trust somebody
because you cannot do it on your own. Find the right
- Fundraising is always a challenge.
- You have to learn your strengths and get a
partner to help you progress quickly.
Ayeshah’s Business Partner
- Ayeshah entered and won a pitch
- A guy was interviewing them. She learned that
he was a freelance writer but owned a nut company and made nuts in
the same facility they were making biscuits.
- The guy developed a nut allergy and cannot make
the product anymore.
- Ayeshah offered a business deal to the guy as
she needed all the help she could get in her business. They
eventually became partners.
How to Have a Balanced Life
- As an entrepreneur, you end up sacrificing your
time with friends and family.
- Ayeshah goes on long walks with her phone off.
She notes that this kind of quiet time allows her to think
strategically and creatively.
Ayeshah’s Daily Non-Negotiables
- Ayeshah has an 80-20 rule she applies in any
relationship. She uses this to score people, things, and
- In the 80-20 rule, Ayeshah ensures that 8 out
of 10 things are successful.
Ayeshah’s Advice for Suffering Women
- Have confidence. If you believe you can do
something, you will.
- You can excel in whatever you do, and you have
to believe in that early.
- Be ready to set yourself on the path and stick
to it, and it will lead you where you want to be.
5 Powerful Quotes
“What a wonderful time to be a
woman entrepreneur because there are so many technologies that make
it more accessible than it used to be.”
“Many entrepreneurs start out
thinking it's easy to make money. And it's not—it is
“The act of being found was
probably the most serendipitous part of this whole
“I don't think anything's a
disappointment. I think you learn from every mistake you make, and
for every bad thing that happens, a good thing is on its
“It's always more important to
realize that, especially early on, you have to give 100,000% in
business so that you can afford one day to kind of step back and be
proud of what you were able to achieve.”
Ayeshah Abuelhiga is the founder and CEO of Mason Dixie foods.
Her focus is disrupting the conventional and highly-processed dough
and frozen bread category. She was the first to launch frozen,
clean-label biscuits, zero-prep scones, and sweet rolls on the
She grew up in the kitchen of
her parents' Soul Food carryout restaurant in Baltimore. It made
her passionate about Southern cuisine. Years later, she creates one
of her childhood comfort foods—biscuits. She firmly believes that
mentorship can genuinely impact the trajectory of a person's career
and life, so one of her goals is to guide and teach skills to
Connect with Ayeshah
through LinkedIn and Instagram.
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