It started as a casual way to brighten up breakfast in the Jivraj household, but now high school student Zamaan Jivraj has turned it into a burgeoning online business.
The West Vancouver Secondary School student — set to graduate next spring — launched the online shop for ‘The Granola Kid’ in September, featuring three healthy, homemade mixes.
The idea is “to show people to eat healthy food and show people they can do anything, just like me,” said Jivraj, who lives with Trisomy 21, also known as Down syndrome.
“I make the granola, I pack the granola, I do the finances and ship it,” he told Global News.
The idea came about when Jivraj’s brother Keyaan noticed his passion for cooking and his gift for making great-tasting granola.
“He was making it with my mom and I was like, Zamaan has a lot of potential. Why not start a business?” he said. “It shows people with Down syndrome that you can do whatever you want — it was amazing.”
Customers donated roughly $300 to help kickstart the web and Instagram-based shop, where sales have now surpassed $4,000.
His parents say it brings them joy to see him make a living out of something he loves in a world where employment and education opportunities are often limited for people with developmental disabilities.
“He needs to be able to have a viable, productive life and to be able to do something that’s meaningful for him,” said his mother, Shein Poonja.
“That’s how we started kind of thinking about this business and creating something that long-term, would be a good opportunity for him.”
Jivraj is a boy of many talents, they added. He runs, plays table tennis and golf, and has even played basketball with Special Olympics British Columbia.
His enthusiasm for the granola business, however, is a special kind of spark. He took a course in food studies in high school, they said, and hasn’t looked back.
“His eyes light up when we talk about the business,” said his father Rahim. “The whole journey from inception of the website to Instagram — we’re all learning along the way, it’s not just Zamaan.
“It all starts with just spending time with him.”
The family is building the business together, and working to adapt and create new flavours based on customer feedback.
They all make it clear, however, that Jivraj is the boss.
“He knows all the recipes — we can’t give it to you because it’s the secret sauce,” Poonja said.
Friends and family were The Granola Kid’s first customers, but sales have now extended as far as the United Kingdom.
An American company has even inquired about the product, said his beaming parents, and a former school principal has offered to become Jivraj’s newest employee.