ASIM AND Qasim Khan, founders of Milwaukee- based beverage business ZYN, immigrated with their family from Pakistan to the Chicago suburb of Itasca when they were 8 and 9 years old, respectively. They went on to attend Marquette University in Milwaukee and both forged careers in finance afterward, landing them on opposite coasts—Asim in New York and Qasim in San Francisco, with stretches for both in Chicago. Their wives brought them to back to Milwaukee, but it was a return trip to Pakistan in 2016 that brought the brothers together in business.
The long flight was difficult for their father, Salahuddin, bringing on severe diabetic nerve pain in his foot, leaving him unable to walk. His sister, Amna, with whom they were staying, made a paste with turmeric powder and olive oil and applied it to his afflicted foot. After an hour, Salahuddin’s pain had disappeared entirely, and the brothers had their a-ha moment. “The ancient wisdom of mother nature really inspired us, and turmeric brings us back to our roots—literally and figuratively,” says Asim with a smile in his voice.
Throughout the brothers’ lives, natural healing and ayurvedic medicine had been utilized for everything from colds, to indigestion, to reducing inflammation. These real-life experiences of nature as medicine, paired with their father’s recovery from pain on that fateful family trip in 2016, brought Asim and Qasim to realize that the power of turmeric was something they wanted to share with the world. And they wanted to do it together. “We’ve always been super close growing up and attending Marquette at the same time. Putting our talents together to try to do something great for the world was our lifelong dream.” explains Qasim.
Diving into research led the brothers to discover that the immunity boosting, inflammation reducing, and healing powers of turmeric come from the tiny compound curcumin. They also found that many of the turmeric teas on the market do not have enough turmeric to match what research suggests is the minimum daily dose of curcumin, so they began crafting drinks in their kitchens with 10 to 15 turmeric roots in each, combining them with the black pepper extract piperine, an adaptogen that boosts absorption. “Coming up with a flavorful recipe took a lot of time. Our wives and kids were our guinea pigs as we wanted something that they would all enjoy the taste of as well. We stained quite a few pots along the way.” chuckles Asim.
After testing the recipes on themselves and noticing that everyday aches and pains subsided, the duo felt rejuvenated and inspired, and ZYN was born. Asim and Qasim introduced the recipes to family and friends, then to local grocery stores and hospitals. Now, ZYN is available nationwide. Their turmeric comes from a part of India where it has grown for hundreds of years, harvested specifically for the curcumin. And because they are based in Milwaukee (where sunshine is not what one would call abundant), the brothers include a significant amount of vitamin D, about 50 percent of the daily recommended value. Each flavor also contains 120 percent of the daily value for vitamin C.
ZYN is especially loved by athletes in need of a natural recovery drink, including professional football Linebacker, Brennan Scarlett, who first discovered ZYN at his training facility. “For me Drink ZYN has been such a crucial part of my career and my life in the last couple of years as it relates to living a healthy lifestyle. I’m making sure that the products that surround and support that lifestyle also align with the values of how I want to feel and how I want to live my life.”
From the beginning, it was of the utmost importance to the Khans that they be a Certified B Corp, which requires audits that look at how they conduct ZYN—from supply partners, to HR practices, to how they allocate their capital, to charitable causes. It also means every supplier they work with has to have good practices in governance, manufacturing, and farming. They spend a great deal of time identifying partners they are comfortable with that fit their mission of doing good for the world. They also hold a Non-GMO Project Verified certification.
Asim and Qasim founded ZYN to promote balanced health and wellness lifestyles that incorporate the endless goodness that nature provides, in a socially, ethically, and environmentally responsible manner, and their mission of doing good in the world goes into every ounce.
ZYN is available locally at Jewel-Osco in Lake Forest, Highland Park, Deerfield, and Libertyville. The Khan brothers anticipate the release of a new travel-friendly powdered option in early spring. To learn more, visit drinkzyn.com.