A doctor, an engineer, a Cordon Bleu pastry chef, a textile designer and a landscape painter Dr. Roohi Qureshi is a true renaissance woman. A trip to Marrakech six years ago inspired her to add yet another expertise to her long list of accomplishments. While there, on a sightseeing tour she discovered a cooperative for Berber women producing argan oil, the nut extract that has now become known for its amazing hydrating properties. When she returned to Canada, Qureshi put her master’s in chemical engineering to work, using the oil to create artisanal soaps and lip balms out of her apartment. Soon her all natural, made by hand products were in demand and by 2012, Leaves of Trees skincare products was born. Now alongside her work as a doctor she has an apothecary where she creates all natural, socially conscious soaps, balms, deodorants, lotions and scrubs.
You do so much, what inspires you everyday?
My friends and customers inspire me. Hearing what they have to say about their skin care challenges and needs inspires me to develop new products. Leaves of Trees has grown a lot over the past few years, but it still means so much to read every positive review of our products and that inspires me to keep going.
When you were a little girl what was your dream?
My parents always encouraged me to pick my own career path. I was interested in medicine, but took a detour into chemical engineering, and I almost decided to follow my dream of becoming a pastry chef before deciding to buckle down for my medical studies. I had never considered an entrepreneurial life for myself. To be honest, I didn’t ever think that I could be successful as an entrepreneur, but once I started making natural skincare products and received encouraging feedback, it gave me the confidence to give starting a full-fledged business a try.
What sets Leaves of Tress apart?
Leaves of Trees (LOT) is a small business and we do everything in-house—from product formulation, to small batch production, to packaging, to shipping the product to our customers worldwide, and selling our products in our shop at LOT headquarters. We believe in making healthy products but we insist that these products must work and that they must be a pleasure to use also.
How do you stay true to your vision?
I think I always go back to the early days, and why I started Leaves of Trees… I had a personal passion for luxury skincare, and for beautiful packaging; so I always consider that original core focus when we are developing new products. The development of our recently launched Marrakech Travel Kit, both Jetsetter and Weekender versions, was an example of this type of thinking in play. We had the products for inside the kit ready to go for quite some time; but I had a very specific idea about how I wanted the case itself to look, about the standard of quality of the materials that would be used. It took longer than initially anticipated to get it just right. But I am so pleased with the result, and I do believe it was worth the wait.
What has life taught you so far?
Take life one day at a time. Plan for the future, but don’t have such a fixed view of the your future that you pass up unexpected opportunities that present themselves. Trust your intuition and don’t be afraid to take a calculated risk.