Entrepreneur of the Year 2023: How Herbaland’s founders are chewing through the vitamin industry

Musharaf Syed and Aisha Yang have grown Herbaland to become Canada's largest vitamin gummy company

The Kickoff: The Vancouver skyline looms over the heads of Musharaf Syed and Aisha Yang as the three of us sit near the top of one of the city’s newest buildings, the Stack, where EY’s Pacific Region offices are located. I’m wondering how, exactly, the founders of the country’s largest vitamin gummy company, Herbaland Naturals, met and decided to start a family together. What brought a Pakistani engineer and a sales and marketing pro from Taiwan together, and then to Canada?

“That would take an hour,” says Yang, laughing.

“You could make a movie out of it,” agrees Syed.

I make a note to jockey for IP rights to what I can only imagine is a Wong Kar-wai–style global romance epic before the pair give me the Coles notes: after meeting in Taiwan many years ago, they decided to move their family to Canada. “Years before, I was a flight attendant and wanted to go to Canada because I had travelled to a lot of countries and the passengers from Canada, I loved them the most,” says Yang. “The culture, the cities, it’s just different.”

Action Plan: After the birth of the couple’s third child in 2009, Yang and Syed decided to start their own business. Syed was working in supplements, so they decided to stick with what they (kind of) knew. “We planned that, by the 11th month, we’d either have built something successful or we’d go back to our original jobs,” says Yang. Spoiler alert: they made the deadline. In 2013, when Herbaland’s supplier was purchased, Syed and Yang became the manufacturers. “We didn’t know how to make gummies, but we bought a machine and challenged ourselves to turn it into an opportunity,” recalls Yang.

Today, Herbaland has some 250 employees, almost all of whom are local to the Lower Mainland. And while Syed and Yang refer to the Herbaland team as a big family, that seems truer for some members than for others.

“We bring our kids to work,” says Yang.

“Child labour,” says Syed.

“He’s kidding,” says Yang, before the phrase has even fully left her husband’s mouth. “We make the working environment fun and energetic, and our kids see that and volunteer themselves to do things. Our 13-year-old is in the R&D department. Two months ago, I took my 17-year-old to a trade show in Switzerland because she speaks French and wanted to volunteer herself.”

The founders aren’t the only people with family in the company—they say that there are 17 sets of family members currently working at Herba-land. “Some have grandparents at the company,” says Syed.

Closing Statement: Richmond-based Herbaland has over 40 varieties of gummies that are geared toward everything from sleep and relaxation to hair and skin care. The company has seen over 500 percent growth in revenue in the past five years and projects $100 million in annual revenue in 2024. Local expansion is on the way as well—the company plans to add a new 150,000-square-foot office and manufacturing facility in 2025 and hopes to create 200 new jobs in Richmond by 2027.


Describe your dream employee in three words:

AY: Energy, passion, belief.

Do you have any advice for young entrepreneurs?

AY: Focus and believe. Focus on goals, believe what you’re doing. Believe you have a good team and that you can become a visionary entrepreneur and leader—that’s important.

What would your co-workers say is your greatest strength?

AY: I think we’re a good bundle. The chemistry is a good match. We’ve been married 25 years and naturally we want to highlight each other’s strengths. We make sure that we enjoy our work and that everybody else does. That’s how we bring the best value out of each person.

After work we can find you…

AY: Working out with my kids. My 13-year-old son is my personal trainer.