Nikki Eslami may have stepped away from the day-to-day operations of Bellami, the hair extensions brand she co-founded and built into a sizable enterprise, but she is still very involved in growing things. Literally.
Eslami is an avid hydroponic gardener, whose interest was piqued a few years ago when she started thinking about her next act and went through the certification process to become a health coach. “I learned a lot about how food is grown and became really interested in that,” she recalled. “I learned how intensive traditional agriculture is and as I looked for different solutions, I came across hydroponics.”
Eslami herself has multiple hydroponic farms, both a commercial-size venture with about 500 square feet of space in a shipping container, which produces the same amount of food as five acres of traditional farmland, as well as a smaller vertical garden in her Manhattan apartment, where she grows cherry tomatoes, basil, mint, red leaf lettuce, butter lettuce (“it explodes when it grows”), peas, baby lettuce, mini cucumbers, and edible flowers.
The entrepreneur insists she doesn’t have a green thumb and said the parallels between building a business and growing produce are many. “Hydroponics thrive in the right environment – the right nutrients, enough sunlight. If you compare that to a business, it’s the same,” she said. “You have to have the right team and resources.”
“Business, it’s the same,” she said. “You really have to tend to it and if you give something love and care and you have the right people and right intentions, it makes a big difference.”
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