These are no average pots and pans.
Meet Our Place, a brand new e-commerce startup from Malala Fund co-founder Shiza Shahid. Our Place has a unique perspective on home cooking in America, and is designing products that are not only hassle-free in the kitchen but center around cultural diversity, food traditions around the country and the art of coming together for a home-cooked meal.
Products like their intuitively crafted main plates, side bowls, cups and signature “Always Pan” make cooking simple, encouraging you to spend more time around the dinner table.
What was the inspiration behind Our Place?
SHIZA SHAHID: We saw a gap in the kitchenware market—there wasn’t a brand that made products for people like us, and that represented our values. So we decided to start a mission-driven kitchenware company to reimagine products for the modern American kitchen and the ethically-minded home cook!
Our products are designed to give you everything you need and nothing you don’t. The “Always Pan,” for example, replaces the clutter of 16-piece cookware sets with one innovative pan that does it all, that is also healthy and free of PFAS and beautiful enough to leave out on the counter!
What’s important to you as you build your brand?
Our brand is about highlighting the cultures and human connections that make America beautiful. We want people to be inspired to cook more at home and share food with the people they love. Because, when we cook our own food, we are more connected to our bodies, our health, our food systems, our families and friends. As an immigrant, I have chosen my family here in America, and I know that is true of most Americans. We’re all finding our place together, and at a dinner table sharing our stories around a dinner table, perhaps the best way to do that.
What has been the most fun part about launching this new brand?
It’s been wonderful to see our products simplifying people’s home-cooking routines, sparking joy and bringing them closer to loved ones! We love hearing stories from our customers and from people who are inspired by our brand. Yesterday, a customer wrote to us saying that cooking in the “Always Pan” brought her back to her happiest memories with her grandmother, cooking over an open fire in a village in Pakistan—a moment she felt most at peace. That’s what it is about for us!
What do you enjoy cooking most?
I grew up having a home-cooked meal every day. In my family, we always had fresh flatbread or rice with some variation of curry. And we ate seasonally, our cuisine rooted in Ayurvedic principles of healing and nourishing. I still love cooking that way, and I’ve been regularly making daal (mung bean soup) with rice, sautéing fresh vegetables in ghee, or just making fried eggs and toast for a quick dinner. Life is busier now, but I believe it’s important that we make time to cook at home, whenever we can.
What about Los Angeles inspired you to start Our Place?
LA is multi-ethnic at its core. It is where diaspora communities from all over the world have made their home and shaped the fabric of the city. And home-cooking is where cultural identity is most authentically expressed. We are inspired every day by this multi-ethnic tapestry. Many of our future collections will be rooted in the food traditions of diaspora communities created in partnership with these communities, their chefs and leaders. We are also very passionate about food justice in LA. There are parts of LA that are still food deserts, and we know none of us can be well until we all are. Therefore, at our launch, we partnered with the L.A. Food Policy Council to put a spotlight on, and invest in, food justice leaders in South LA who are doing important work for equity and wellness.
Can you tell us a bit more about what’s next for Our Place?
We are working on our next assortment of products, inspired by Nochebuena. All our products from this collection are designed and sourced directly from artisans based in Oaxaca, Mexico. We are excited to celebrate this joyful tradition, share the beautiful, sustainable products and to give back to the community.