Innovator Voices: Herbaland Founders, Aisha Yang and Musharaf Syed
When Aisha Yang and Musharaf Syed launched their Vancouver-based nutra-pharmaceutical business to support their growing family, they couldn’t have imagined that Herbaland would become Canada’s top gummy manufacturer of more than 600 private-label and Herbaland-brand vitamins and nutrient-rich snacks. Through Yang’s sales and marketing experience and Syed’s engineering and production background, the couple have built a market-leading, global phenomenon based on their ingenuity and adherence to professional and personal values.
Neither of you had a background in gummy supplements. Why did you decide to start Herbaland?
Yang: In 2009, when we had our third child, we realized we didn’t have work-life balance. We decided to start something of our own to fix that. We wanted a health product not just for those in North America, but one that addresses dietary restrictions around the world. That’s why we chose gummies; they can be enjoyed all over the world. We really wanted to create something that was global. We began by buying from a supplier, but in 2013, we started manufacturing for ourselves. In the past three years, we’ve seen the gummy category increase three to five times.
Herbaland’s gummy products accommodate many customers, including those who are vegan, gluten-free and sugar-free. Why is this a key part of your business?
Syed: We build with an inclusivity mindset. We have many international clients in the Middle East, Asia and Europe. We need one product that meets all the government and cultural requirements. When we say vegan, that means we don’t use gelatin. Our gummies are pectin-based, allowing them to be shipped to countries with very high temperatures without compromising the active ingredients. The pectin isn’t just acceptable for vegetarians and vegans, it also meets religious restrictions for customers who are halal or kosher.
Herbaland’s recent rebranding includes completely compostable packaging. Why did you want to lead the market in this innovative way?
Yang: The rebranding allows us to be more aggressive in communicating our sustainability mission. We are in the midst of becoming B Corp certified, which means taking on social responsibility within the business. One of our main goals was to bring in zero-waste, zero-plastic packaging by the end of 2025—we’ve brought in our sustainable packaging two years ahead of schedule! We’re also using stainless steel moulds in our manufacturing. Our machines save a lot of water and energy, and we’re forcing that as an industry trend. We’re definitely the first in the nutra-pharmaceutical market to provide a zero-plastic solution.
Your company is driven by its core values of sustainability, inclusivity and community. Why do you stick to these values?
Yang: We have 200 employees who speak 27 different languages, which is something we’re very proud of. We want to do right by our employees who are trying to raise their families just like we are. Taking care of our team is the first step, but we also give back to our community. For example, we donated 37,000 bottles of gummies to front-line workers during the pandemic. In addition to giving back to people, we want to make sure we’re giving back to the planet. We are very grateful for the energy of our Herbaland team. That’s the magic that keeps us growing.
Read more about Herbaland’s gummy vitamins and snacks.