She might have left Iran, as a lot of her contemporaries did, however Paris-trained pastry chef Shahrzad Shokouhivand determined to remain and work to make girls’s lives higher contained in the nation.
And the icing on the cake? She and her husband now make use of 70 folks — largely girls.
“It is solely by working right here that we’ll change issues in Iran,” mentioned the 36-year-old, talking to AFP in one among her two stylish cafe-pastry outlets in Tehran.
She and her husband do admit that at one stage they considered leaving the Islamic republic, selecting the trail of exile.
“Most of our buddies have gone to Canada, the US or Australia,” mentioned her husband Babak Mehrabani.
“However we determined to not to migrate.”
For a lot of younger graduates, financial issues affect the choice to remain of their sanction-hit dwelling nation or transfer overseas.
Such issues could also be bolstered by the protest motion that has swept the nation for the reason that September demise in custody of Iranian Kurd Mahsa Amini, following her arrest for an alleged breach of strict Islamic gown guidelines for girls.
Their resolution to remain in Iran has paid off, Shokouhivand and her husband consider.
Like many different residents of Tehran she fervently desires to hope that “issues are altering”.
“Regardless of every part, I stay optimistic for girls in Iran,” she mentioned.
That perception is shared by 27-year-old Minoo, additionally a chef, who notes fewer girls than earlier than put on compulsory headscarves in public locations within the teeming capital.
– ‘Respect the legislation’ –
The requirement for girls to put on the headband in public was enshrined in legislation shortly after the Islamic revolution of 1979.
“What I see on the faces of ladies immediately could be very totally different from six months in the past” earlier than the protests erupted, Minoo mentioned.
Not all girls really feel the identical method.
Homeira, a retired 58-year-old instructor, mentioned she “grew up with the veil”.
“Carrying the hijab is the legislation of our nation and we should respect the legislation,” she mentioned.
“Sadly, our younger folks don’t settle for it and criticise the faith,” Homeira added, whereas additionally defending the best of individuals to decide on.
Shokouhivand believes that as a lady, “you need to work so much more durable if you happen to’re to achieve enterprise, at dwelling and likewise in your social life”.
However experiencing such obstacles “additionally implies that you progress”.
It was her childhood dream to change into a pastry chef, and in 2017 she went to Paris for 3 months to the famend Le Cordon Bleu cooking college.
On her return she opened a pastry store within the metropolis centre on the location of a retailer that used to promote purses. She stored its title, Femme Stylish.
Now the well-off of Tehran flock to pattern her tarte Tatin, baba — with out the rum — and even a model of the Breton kouign amann cake.
– ‘Uncertainty’ –
Now, 5 years later, she and her husband have two outlets and a 70-strong workforce of largely girls.
The enterprise can be worthwhile, regardless of them having to cut back their margins due to the rampant inflation sweeping the nation.
However “regardless of the uncertainty, we stay formidable”.
Now she and her husband are considering of opening pastry outlets in different cities comparable to Shiraz within the south and Mashhad within the east.
And perhaps additionally overseas — Dubai or Doha if they’ll discover native companions.
They even have the “barely loopy” need to open one in Paris.
However again to the current, Shokouhivand hopes to see the lifting of the extreme, largely US, sanctions over Tehran’s nuclear coverage which can be squeezing the nation.
Due to the sanctions, she says, “it is rather troublesome to search out high quality chocolate, good butter and vanilla” amongst different important baking elements.
However even this disadvantage has a plus aspect.
“It forces us to be artistic” and make extra use of Iran’s personal ample assets of fruits, nuts and spices, like pistachios, hazelnuts and saffron.
With alcohol banned in Iran, her tackle the well-known baba is the baba Tabrizi — named for the northwestern Tabriz area — through which a syrup of cardamom and saffron replaces the rum. Scrumptious.