She's non-stop from the moment she walks into the Broadway Market. But despite the hustle and bustle, this is a bit of downtime for Bisharo Ali. She's a mom of nine.
"I like to do something all the time,” Ali, the owner of Najah Sauces said. “My kids are all in school full-time now."
Ali's story starts 25 years ago, when she emigrated from Somalia to Minnesota. She and her family moved to Buffalo about a decade ago. Since then, Ali has been trying to find her own way to share a little bit of her homeland in her new community.
"I started making this about two years ago,” Ali recalled. “Even before that, I was making it at home, canning, getting the OK from the FDA, the health department and New York State."
It wasn't easy as Ali faced a language barrier, not to mention sets of codes and regulations. But, she was determined to break down any barriers that stood in her way.
Ali got her start thanks to Cornell University's Food Venture, a center that informs and advises small food manufacturers about food safety standards and regulations.
For her, bringing the ancient recipes from her native Somalia to Buffalo is about more than the dips and drinks like apple juice and fenugreek, an herb believed to have health benefits.
"It's what my family use but also other countries,” Ali said. “They use it for many ways like diabetes, a stomach ulcer, back pain."
It's about breaking stereotypes about women.
"They are the backbone of the community,” she said. “We deliver babies, we work hard, we cook, we clean, we do almost anything in our community."
Since 2017, Ali has been selling her Najah brand at the Broadway Market. Behind her stand is the kitchen, where the magic happens.
"I want to share something with my community,” Ali said. “I don't want to be a hiding woman. I want to say, here I am, and here is my product."
In the list of her ingredients is a message to other mom's or even women entrepreneurs from all backgrounds: don't let anything or anyone stand in your way.
"You come up with whatever you know, and there's room for business,” Ali said. “There is room for business to share what you know from your home, with your new community."
Ali's products can be found not only at the Broadway Market, but also at Super Bazaar, Walden Halal Groceries and the African Market.