Meet Fiona Afshar a woman whose life journey took her from software development to floral arrangements, all while raising three resilient children. Yet, in the grand symphony of her existence, she never imagined she’d one day wield the culinary arts for profit.
Her story begins in the heart of Iran, where food transcends sustenance; it embodies love itself. “The more we feed you, the more we love you,” Afshar, a vibrant soul of 57 summers, passionately declares to CNBC Make It.
In the year 2018, she embarked on an extraordinary odyssey, birthing her Instagram persona, @cookingwithfiona, with a singular purpose: to share culinary wisdom through captivating instructional videos intended for her beloved daughter.
With the passage of mere months, Afshar’s online presence swelled like a tidal wave. Her revelation? The malleability of pasta dough, a canvas for her creative soul.
Through vivid videos, she masterfully crafted, cooked, and served pasta in vibrant hues and mesmerizing patterns.
A mesmerized audience clung to her every creation. Soon, cooking classes, fruitful brand collaborations, and the birth of ‘Fiona’s Pasta,’ an online haven, became her reality.
Afshar’s charm lies in her eccentric noodles, which resonate universally. “If you examine any culture closely, you’ll find a form of pasta.
It leaves behind a warm tapestry of comfort,” she shares, her voice dripping with passion.
Today, Fiona Afshar commands an annual income of $129,000, primarily by conjuring colorful pasta spectacles from the heart of her Malibu, California, kitchen.
But let’s delve deeper into the layers of her culinary fairy tale. Five years into her gastronomic journey, food still remains synonymous with love for Afshar.
The difference? Now, her passion has found a stage, and she shares her love with an ardent following of nearly half a million enthusiasts. In the quietude of her home, nestled in Malibu, California, she orchestrates culinary symphonies that have earned her $129,300 in the past year.
The genesis of Afshar’s pasta empire is a tale spun by serendipity’s hand.
Her culinary love affair began at the tender age of nine, amidst the turmoil of the Iranian Revolution, when her father relocated her and her three brothers to the United Kingdom.
Her mother, a harbinger of comfort, gifted her a cookbook. Night after night, young Afshar caressed the pages, etching the recipes into her soul. Food became her solace, her means of nurturing and being nurtured.
The cookbook from her mother still rests on her shelf—a cherished relic from her journey, from Iran to the U.K.
Life led Afshar to California, where she ventured into the realm of software development and consultancy. In 1987, fate introduced her to her soulmate, Ali.
Together, they built a software empire before gracefully stepping back to embrace parenthood and raise three precious children.
Save for a fleeting stint as a florist, Afshar dedicated herself to the art of crafting healthy and intriguing meals for her family.
Then, her Instagram journey commenced, and the magic of pasta unfolded. Chef Thomas Keller’s tutorials on pasta-making ignited a spark within her, and her audience devoured every delectable creation.
“As soon as pasta graced my posts, the entire social media sphere exploded,” she reminisces. “I thought, ‘You want pasta? I’ll give you pasta.'”
In 2020, as the world grappled with a pandemic-induced cocoon, Afshar unveiled virtual pasta-making classes, charging $35 per eager participant.
It wasn’t about the money; it was about sharing her passion, a missing piece of her life during those trying times. At its zenith, a hundred souls would gather from across the globe for each class.
The following year, Afshar’s brother proposed a daring venture—selling her pasta creations. Reluctant at first, she agreed to a one-month trial, birthing ‘Fiona’s Pasta.’ The result? An instant symphony of sales.
Around the same juncture, the illustrious luxury fashion retailer Ssense extended an offer that melded Afshar’s lifelong love for fashion with her culinary prowess.
They commissioned her to design pasta that mirrored the aesthetics of brands like Gucci and Anthropologie, weaving a delicious tapestry of art and gastronomy. Such collaborations filled her coffers with $18,000 the previous year.
Her virtual classes added another $16,500 to her earnings.
Yet, the heartbeat of her income throbs in her pasta haven. Boxes of vibrant, floral, and designer-inspired pasta grace her website, bearing price tags ranging from $80 to $240.
Afshar’s culinary empire thrives on family values. Her labor of love demands 32 hours of her week, painstakingly crafting, packaging, and dispatching pasta from her cherished home.
Advertising expenses? Zero. Her mother and brother’s mother-in-law are her silent partners, rolling, cutting, and drying dough with love that defies monetary value.
“Fiona’s Pasta, Cooking with Fiona it’s more than a business; it’s a passion,” she declares. “We’re not driven by profit.”
Her pasta flourishes with vibrant hues, infused with the freshness of parsley and beets, procured from a local market.
Despite her six-figure earnings, Afshar remains resolute—her purpose transcends profits. Her culinary journey is a bridge that connects people through food, a means to pass on her heritage to her children. Expansion? It’s a notion she cradles like a newborn.
Her art is deeply personal; she fears that mass production would strip it of its essence.
In a world driven by commerce, Fiona Afshar stands as a beacon of passion and authenticity, a reminder that the most delectable creations are born from the heart, not the balance sheet.