While Mona Bavar is a successful female entrepreneur, she would first and foremost describe herself as a food and wine enthusiast. Finer things in life have always captivated her, but she didn’t always have it easy.
Bavar was born in Iran and migrated to the US in 1979 due to the revolution. What was supposed to be a short stay quickly became her home. That word, “home,” is much more than a structure to Bavar. In fact, “it is the inviting smells, the melodic voices, the exchange of stories which create lasting memories, the traditional flavors,” she says.
This idea of home and foundation led to the creation of DLISH. Bavar created this concept of not only wine curation gift boxes, but also limited edition signature curated gift boxes, to pay homage to the importance of culture, traditions, and journeys. “As immigrants, life wasn’t easy, given the political and racial climate at the time,” says Bavar. “The table essentially became our refuge. A place where we could talk about everything freely, expressing our emotions – practically, a haven.”
Another pinpoint of the planet where Bavar found a home was Italy. Italy is a constant muse of inspiration for her daily life, and the surroundings helped her form the idea behind DLISH. “Having access to the artisans, cuisine, and drink of Italy daily encourages me to want to share a bit of la dolce vita with others through the products I source for DLISH,” she says. Each product is specially chosen because it is locally sourced and unique (in some cases rare or even one-of-a-kind). Bavar seeks to form relationships with purveyors and artisans, supporting their small businesses and being among the few exporters (predominantly female exporters!) of goods outside of Italy.
How DLISH Works
Working with businesses worldwide, consumers can curate their DLISH gift box and impress friends and colleagues at home with their upscale taste and savvy nature. Ways to curate the box include pairing bespoke items together, such as wine from Bordeaux with chocolate from Switzerland.
Bavar’s intention in DLISH’s creation was to curate a complete experience and produce memorable experiences for food, art, and design aficionados.
And if the boxes aren’t enough, during the first COVID-19 lockdown, the brand launched DLISH Magazine to help readers learn and discover more about where Bavar sources her products. Just as importantly, she shares the stories of creators and producers–because, as she recognized as a little girl at her family’s kitchen table–food and beverages connect humans. The magazine led to the creation of the DLISH Table, a place where humans can come together, experience delectable tastes, share stories, learn about each other’s cultures, and understand how we are so similar in our differences. Essentially, what may appear as a gifting service is breaking boundaries.
Bavar’s Female Entrepreneurship Journey
Bavar’s entire journey, like many entrepreneurs, has been a formative lesson with both hardships and rewards. Though modest, Bavar does proudly brag about her tenacity. Throughout her life, she never gave up on what she wanted. “There are many stories about my personal and professional struggle; looking back, I realize the journey is the most beautiful part of all of it,” she says.
While it may sound cliché, Bavar urges future entrepreneurs to stop wavering and just do it when it comes to taking the leap and getting their business off the ground. “It is hard, but the journey is more about establishing a successful business or creating a product,” she says. Bavar believes that the journey of self-recognition and self-awareness is the most difficult challenge. It’s rare, as humans, to understand who we are and what we’re capable of. She also feels that we shouldn’t compare ourselves to anyone else. It’s all a beautiful journey.
Within the next five years, Bavar would love to empower and mentor fellow entrepreneurs on their journeys. As for the DLISH community, Bavar would like to provide a larger arena for local artisans, farmers, designers, and educators to share their stories and passion.