Fatin Kwasny, a first-generation American, launched Mezze Culture in 2015 as a way for fellow Americans get to know the world firsthand through the origins of the international people and places around them—not just through traditional mediums about countries. Always finding international inspiration in her backyard, she ultimately invested time into traveling to 13 countries over a 5 year period while still working full-time. She started Mezze Culture because while there are about 200 nations, our world has over 6,000 cultures which are able to transcend traditional borders for people to connect.
Q: What's your background, and what are you working on?
My professional background includes over 15 years spent in marketing for professional services companies, from IT to digital media, focused on driving sales opportunities and revenue. My passion projects for the last six years have included those focused on changemaking, including a social good platform for the hospitality industry, which allows influencers like chefs and founders of food and beverage establishments to serve as conduits for overcoming culture barriers within their communities by sharing their stories and hosting pop-up tastings which foodies can subscribe to on our platform.
Q: What motivated you to get started with Mezze Culture?
I started Mezze Culture in 2015 by holding in-person chef tastings events for foodies to learn about their cultures. I launched the concept back then because while there are about 200 nations, our world has over 6,000 cultures which are able to transcend traditional borders for people to connect, and local businesses like restaurants are portals into the hospitality of these cultures. The platform's mission is to enable greater knowledge, respect, empathy, and love beyond borders. By knowing more, we can start to overcome travel barriers, span cultural distances and bridge cultural divides, just by stepping into our backyards. As a first generation American I have also been fortunate to travel to 13 countries over the course of my life, but have always found inspiration in my backyard and found those boundaries to blur when it came to differences, because the people who represent those cultures aboard are the same people who show hospitality locally.
Q: How have you grown your platform?
Through organizing local meetup groups for foodies who want to begin to see food beyond its value to themselves, in Austin, New York City, and Washington, DC, as well as finding mutual synergy with local chefs and founders who are keen on sharing their stories through food with a similar mission in mind at the heart of their inspiration for starting on their food and drink journey.
Q: What are your goals for the future?
For the platform to enable chefs and founders across America to be changemakers, for their stories to be known and the tastings they host to showcase their cultures and enable their stories to be a force for good.
Q: What are the biggest challenges you've faced so far?
Generating awareness of our platform among foodies who have been conditioned to evaluate food and drink establishments based on their value to themselves (photos and reviews), and to encourage these food and drink establishments to activate their stories and give them a platform to do so easily.
Q: What's your advice for female founders who are just starting out?
Don't get too attached to an idea. Learn to take a step back from it and to stand on the outside of your ideas, in order to be receptive to its evolution so that the best version of it can conceptually take form and you can see it objectively. It's okay to pivot because, like we enjoy saying in our popular culture, that's an idea becoming a better version of itself.