Tuesday, November 10, 2015


This feature is one that has particularly shook up the walls of my heart. Not only is it on women whose work I'm in eyes-wide awe of—Nikisa, Danielle, Meredith, Marielena, Rachel. It's also told through one whose path is treaded with similar skidmarks as that of mine—immigration and trauma, recovery from disservice to the body, and adapting to shifting needs. 

This lifestyle guide hands slivers of tigernut bread alongside deep sips over often unspoken conversations on eating disorders, the death card, and delicate dance of friendship. It’s a guide for which the voices of most women and men have been chiming.

Here is Nikisa of Poppy & Seed sharing her nutritional transitions, holistic cabinet, + loveline of family . . .

N I K I S A   H O N A R K A R  |  P O P P Y   &   S E E D  

Q: Tell us a little bit about you and what led you to create Poppy & Seed.
I am a seeker—I love to learn. I am so grateful for the luxury of investing so much time in learning about different elements of health and wellness. During and after receiving my BS in Business Entrepreneurship, I became certified as a yoga instructor, raw culinary chef, and reiki practitioner. Most of all, however, my biggest inspiration and what keeps me passionate is my own personal journey. As a first generation Iranian-American (I was born here in Southern California), my family really trusted western medicine. 

Through my childhood and teenage years—I was put on medications ranging from rounds of antibiotics, Acctutane (for my skin), to birth control pills, and Adderall. Birth control pills entered my life as soon as I started my moon cycle and did my body a disservice because I never learned to regulate my hormones without assistance. After college, I decided to stop taking any medication and help my ADD through my already healthy lifestyle—yoga, exercise, and a plant-based diet. 

The more I read about nutrition, the more passionate I grew. I started going to David Wolfe’s Longevity Now conferences and the Women’s Wellness Conference, I read more and more, and kept learning, kept tweaking my lifestyle. Although it all started with my devotion to a vegan diet, I recently realized healing is about keeping an open mind. With low cholesterol levels due to a plant-based diet, my body was unable to regulate the hormone imbalance, and low iron levels left me depleted, filled with lactic acid, and high levels of inflammation. 

I chose to start Poppy & Seed because of this journey that I'm still on. It’s a community, a platform for education, a lifestyle, and a commitment to nurturing our minds, our bodies, and mother nature. Living as your best self, never giving up, and elevating the world through your presence.

Q: What inspired the name?
The name Poppy & Seed is symbolic in many ways. I’m Persian, and the Poppy flower is the national flower for Iran as well as the state flower for California (where we are based). It represents getting back in touch with our roots on every level—using age-old methods of making things from fermentation to DIY beauty to medicine. It's important to stay connected as we grow in this new world of instant gratification. Don't get me wrong—I love technology (hence an online start-up) and Google is my super-smart best friend that I take with me everywhere, but there’s something to be said about slowing down, being patient, and going within. This is where the “Seed” comes in. Seeds need love, they need the basic elements of air, water and sunlight to grow—and when you are truly connected, when you have that clear mind, the possibilities are endless.

Q: When you are not working on Poppy & Seed, what else do you like to do?
I love to travel—I usually end up in tropical places and have made a commitment to myself to go on 2 yoga retreats/year. I live near the beach so I also love to take my super magical Siberian Husky, Cessna, down to the beach with my fiancé, Eric. I love hosting people at my house. I have been thinking about starting a pop-up breakfast at my house—because paleo pancakes are too good not to share with others!

Q: What keeps you going? Do you have a daily routine, ritual, or a mantra?
Movement-—I like to move every day whether it’s strength training, yoga, or walking my dog. Recently I’ve been meditating on the idea of the other person is you. I feel their pain and suffering through compassion, but I also understand my boundaries—this really reminds me to take responsibility for my perception of others and understand there’s no need for judgement.

Q: What are some of your favorite snacks or foods that fuel your creative process?
Herbed, Pitted and Sun Dried Botija Olives—these are the best olives you will ever have!

I love Tahini—I make my own dressing with lemon, spring water, sea salt and fresh ginger. My favorite snack for when I'm in the office is sliced Persian cucumbers with my tahini dressing. It cools me down in the summertime and keeps me going.

Chocolate—I love chocolate! And the fact that dark chocolate contains iron is even more satisfying. My favorite chocolates are Zenbunni, Sacred Chocolate, and Lulus.

Q: What are your three staples for glowing health?
Spring Water // SWEATING // Elemental Wizdom Human Strain Probiotics

Q: What would be an ideal day for you?
I love Saturdays because I wake up and walk over to the Farmers Market with Eric and Cessna. We like to walk down to the beach really early in the morning so Cessna can run off leash and go in the water. Running after her and playing around in the sand is just the best! Not to mention, it's so healing—digging my toes into the sand releases any tension, grounds me, and clears my mind. 

I love going out on the water in our boat or renting an Electric Duffy and enjoying hor’dourves with friends—water and food are a big part of our lives! Ending the day with a small dinner party with friends or family at my house with the food from the farmers market + and a deep, full-bodied cab is the cherry on top! I feel lucky to live so close to my parents. 

Family is everything to me. Eric and I started to build our own family with Cessna and it’s important to me that we prioritize that as we continue building our lives together. My immediate family is also a big part of my life—it brings me so much joy knowing I can just call them up and have tea in the morning or lunch or dinner with them anytime because we live in the same town.

Q: Who are some sources of inspiration for you?
My family! My mom experienced a great deal of trauma in her life—her dad was executed in the Iranian Revolution when she was 12. Her family lost everything because the new government took it all away from them, except a tiny apartment that was purchased under my grandmother’s maiden name. 

My grandmother was left a widow at age 35 with 4 kids to raise and no income. They were such warriors working together to make ends meet—saving up money to eventually build above and below the apartment so they could rent the top and bottom units out for a steady income. Tears still stream down my face as I listen to or retell her story—almost as if it has affected my life through intergenerational trauma and suffering. 

My mother is so brave—she was very close with her dad, the same way I am with mine. They had such a strong bond and at a young age she accepted the reality of life + death, something our society struggles with. My mother and my father were engaged when she was 16, married when she was 17! She was so young when she moved to the U.S., leaving her family behind to be with my dad and his family. Thirty years later, and my grandmother recently moved to the US for good, and the youngest of the siblings is now moving here in the next 2 weeks with her family! My mother is such a kind, loving woman—teaching me to find joy in the essence of life rather than material things. She is so kind, loving, and generous. Growing up, if there was anyone working on our house, cleaning, or gardening, she would invite them in to have lunch with us. She feeds anyone that walks into her home and can whip anything up in 10 minutes. Her energy amazes me!

My father is a true source of inspiration for me as well. He has also gone through a lot in life. He moved to the US in his twenties, before the revolution. He came here to go to college, barely speaking any English. While he was here, he dealt with a lot of hate crime—signs on the restaurants saying “no dogs, no Iranians." 

He doesn't like to talk about it, but I couldn't imagine living here during that time. He kept his head down and focused on getting an education and a job—he worked as a bus driver, in an ice cream shop, and as a bartender. He inspires me to work hard every day of my life. He brought his entire family over to the U.S., and at one point 12 of them lived in a small house together, with my dad supporting everyone. He helped them get on their feet—he started his own clothing company and his parents, my mother, and his siblings all had a role in the business.

He grew that business until I was about 8 years old when he decided to get into the wireless industry. Watching him build his business from scratch and creating jobs for everyone in his family and supporting them as the business developed has been a big eye opener for me. He has instilled in my sister and I at a young age that family is everything, never get upset over anything monetary, the more you give the more life gives you back, and education is king—no one can take knowledge away from you. Hard work, dedication, and generosity are 3 amazing qualities of his and I admire him so much. I strive to build my life based on the principles he has taught me.

Q: What are your go-to products in your holistic medicine cabinet?
Oregano Oil for when I feel a sore throat coming on  // NAC (N-Acetyl-Cysteine) This stuff is the best! I tend to bruise easily and my bruises can last for weeks, so any time I have a fall I take NAC morning and evening, and the bruising either never shows up or goes away within days! It's a powerful anti-oxidant that is a good idea to take regularly // Turmeric Whether it's cold pressed turmeric juice, or cut up and placed directly on a certain inflamed spot, or eaten as a snack (my mom makes the best turmeric chips), I can't get enough of this orange super-herb in my daily regiment.

Q: What moves you through fear + brings you into bliss?
Kundalini Yoga. Before working with my teacher, I felt I had a pretty good understanding and awareness of my fears and anxiety—I could manage and communicate, but it was an after-thought. Kundalini enables me to work through my fears at a different level. To rise above and start moving deeper into those fears to release the thoughts preventing me from being in the present moment. Learning to manage my own energy brings me closer to a constant state of bliss.

Q: What’s on your reading list currently?
The Fear Cure by Lissa Rankin—about to take her workshop at Esalen in October!

Q: What is your next big vision for Poppy & Seed?
Poppy & Seed is a lifestyle editorial that will expand into events, product collaborations, beauty, and clothing. The editorial is the main component of the site, but we are looking to go beyond that, to connect with our readers on every level. What you read, how you choose to exercise, what you eat and cook, where you purchase your food+household products, the music you listen to, what you wear, what goes on your face—they are all connected. We are interested in empowering our readers to create a life that feeds their soul on all levels—it's possible to have high standards to live by, there's no need to compromise integrity.