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Sylvia Tam - Beviva Foods

Sylvia started Beviva Foods in 2017 after finding it difficult to find food she could eat while travelling. She lives with ulcerative colitis.

In this interview she tells us more about being a business owner with IBD.

What type of IBD do you have and when were you diagnosed?

I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis in 2011. I manage my IBD with traditional Chinese medicine by avoiding certain foods and not skipping meals but instead eating little and often.

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Tell us about your business

I started a snack business called Beviva Foods with a mission to help people with digestive sensitivities eat easily and healthily on the hop. Our products are tummy and travel-friendly foods made with functional ingredients like oats and purple sweet potatoes.

People always ask me where the name Beviva came from. Well, it’s my three kids’ names put together - Benjamin, Viani, and Vanessa. The kangaroo represents the busy me hopping around with snacks in her pouch : )

When and why did you start your business?

I worked in the health food industry for quite some time and travelled frequently for business. Taking the plane was the hardest for me because I couldn’t find food to eat in airports which led to irregularly eating, bloating and even flares.

So in 2017, I decided to take this problem into my own hands and started developing Beviva’s first product - PURPO. Now I can take my favourite go-to-snack cereal to the airport because the instant oat mylk powder is TSA (Transport Security Administration) approved, it comes with a spoon so you just add cold water, and the health benefits of purple sweet potatoes make it an ideal snack for people with digestive sensitivities.    

How does your IBD affect your business?

Beviva gave me the courage to tell the world I have IBD. Now, more people turn to me with questions about digestion and as a result, I am constantly learning about functional foods and our digestion system from research experts and conferences. 

Are there benefits to running your own business when you have IBD?

Well, I have three children also, so being my own boss gives me the flexibility to juggle priorities and maintain a balance between work and family. It can also be tricky, so time-blocking really helps me focus as well as reserving some creative/planning time to myself.

How do you deal with the stress and workload of running your own business and do you think this has an impact on your IBD?

Your business will only be successful if you are healthy and happy so I focus on my four daily Bs - Body, Being, Balance, and Business. From working out and having a green smoothie, to meditating, writing messages to my family, and learning from audio-books. A good routine energises your day and helps with focus. Then I can move on to my fifth B - Beviva.

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What are your hopes for your business in the future?

Great question! Beviva products will be there to the rescue anywhere you are out and about like in airports, hospitality, hospitals and college campuses. We will be an online destination for digestion promoting food and beverage solutions as well as an information platform for herbal remedies from professionals in alternative medicine.

I look forward to the day where I can have a team to work with, as working with people is my greatest passion. 

What advice do you have for other people with IBD who are thinking of starting a business?

Living with IBD and starting a business are both not easy, but they both take people who are Incredibly Brave and Determined to succeed. Start with stepping stones and build at your own pace so you can enjoy the entrepreneurial journey.

Support Sylvia

You can find out more about Sylvia's business on the Beviva Foods website. You can follow Beviva on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Are you a business owner with IBD? Join in the conversion using #IBDBusinessOwners or get in touch to share your story with us.

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