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Meet Rubina Ali and Neelam Damani of Roots in Harmony in Neartown

Today we’d like to introduce you to Rubina Ali, Neelam Damani.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Rubina and Neelam. So, let’s start at the beginning, and we can move on from there.
We are two sisters, Rubina and Neelam, who absolutely love tea, and have a deep, profound respect for the healing power of Ayurveda. But, if anyone had told us even a few years ago we’d be running a tea business, with our weekends spent at farmers markets, we wouldn’t have believed them! Now, it’s all we do, with our family’s love and support. We get to share our passion with our community and spend our days hand-crafting Ayurveda-inspired teas and remedies.

It all started a few years ago with pain. Intense pain. Though Rubina always had digestive issues, it suddenly became unbearable. Rather than relying on heavy meds, she went to our mom for an ayurvedic remedy and discovered CCF (cumin-coriander-fennel). She started chewing on the seeds after meals, and brewed them as a tea, adding other herbs such as dill, ajwain, and black seeds. Not only was the stomach pain gone, but the teas helped hot flashes and restlessness. Soon, our family and even our friends were hooked and relied on the remedies to improve digestion.

We have always been taught to share our knowledge with others. This is why we launched Roots in Harmony as a farmers market business, to have real conversations and educate others about the healing power of Ayurveda. For those who may be unfamiliar, Ayurveda is the sister science of Yoga, a 5,000-year-old mind-body science about bringing balance to one’s life. Though there are certified Ayurvedic practitioners, many ayurvedic remedies are passed down from generation to generation. Growing up, we took this ancient wisdom for granted, but feel grateful to now experience and share its benefits with others.

Aside from select farmers markets, our teas are now available at local coffee shops, restaurants, cafes, and a co-op in Houston. This summer, we started teaching kids about ayurvedic teas at a summer camp, and hope to start classes for adults soon!

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Launching a business without a business background? Yeah, we knew the learning curve would be steep. There’s no one-size-fits-all guide about being a farmers’ market vendor; each county has its own permits, tax requirements, health codes, and rules. Our small budget and desire to DIY everything also meant late nights watching “how-to” videos, tons of research, and long hold times with government agencies. But the reward and savings were worth it. Doing everything ourselves – from packaging, label design, website launch, printing, marketing, tax codes – we have learned so much on this journey, and continue to grow every single day.

The weather, however, is a different story. Frigid, windy, hot, or rainy – we embrace it all! We show up at our weekly markets, regardless of the weather, for that unique opportunity to share our ayurvedic teas, and benefits of gut-healing herbs. We have always appreciated farmers markets, but as a vendor, we understand so much more. Farmers markets are places that bring together passionate makers, bakers, crafters, artists, artisans, and farmers under one marketplace. They allow neighborhood heroes to shine. They allow friends and families to discover new concepts and ideas. They allow learning to happen organically, naturally. But most of all, farmers markets allow dialogue, and genuine, real conversations. We feel a sense of pride standing under that tent, with our hand-made products laid out in front of us.

But, under that tent is also a lot of vulnerability. Perhaps it’s something every business owner experiences. I know it is our biggest challenge, but the greatest reward too. Who will we meet today? Will they like our teas? What if they’re only familiar with flavored, sugar-loaded teas, and don’t care for natural remedies? What if they don’t like our packaging, our set-up, or us? Our hero, Houston-native Brené Brown, says, “Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.” So, with courage, we put the chatter aside and show up. We find courage in doing what we love, and share our truth with others.

Roots in Harmony – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
At Roots in Harmony, we hand-craft Ayurveda-inspired herbal teas and remedies, using certified organic herbs and hand-roasted spices. Our family strongly believes in natural ingredients, so we never add sweeteners, flavors, or anything artificial to our blends. Our teas are unique because each blend incorporates ayurvedic spices with health benefits such as improving digestion, promoting female health, and increasing energy.

One of our best-known products is Golden Milk. When we were kids, we requested our mom for “yellow milk” often. It felt like a decadent treat. Her Golden Milk recipe, evolved over the years, is now bringing healing, health, and joy to countless Houstonians. This blend includes turmeric along with a powerhouse of spices such as cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, and black pepper to relax sore muscles, help alleviate inflammation, promote digestion, and improve skin clarity.

Ayurveda teaches that all imbalances start in the gut. With poor digestion, incoming food isn’t processed fully and turns into an undigested substance called Ama. Healthy herbs and spices help eliminate Ama, leading to better health, better metabolism, and healthy weight. Our passion is to share healing remedies with Houstonians, allowing nature to restore our balance and bring our roots back into harmony.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
Last week at Tomball Farmers Market, a customer said, “My daughter told me not to come home without Golden Milk.” Her daughter is nine. A few weeks ago, a gentleman said the inflammation in his knee had improved from drinking Golden Milk. Another said she takes it for her elbow. One of our customers takes Feminine Bliss Tea on nature walks, and another takes Happy Belly Tea every night for digestion. When we learn that our products are promoting healing and bringing joy to people’s lives – that is our proudest moment.

We also feel immensely grateful that Houston coffee shops, restaurants, and cafes have given us an opportunity, and carry our products. We are a small, family-owned brand, yet they treat us with so much respect and value our hand-made products. When they tell us our teas are customer favorites, it makes us smile and feel honored to be on this journey.

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