Today we’d like to introduce you to Dr. Ellen Sachs-Najjar.
Hi Dr. Sachs-Najjar, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
I have been involved in competitive swimming since the age of 7. As a teenager, I aspired to go college on a swimming scholarship. That dream came to fruition as I earned a 4-year swimming scholarship to Northwestern University; however, I had not put much thought in what I wanted to study. It was fortunate circumstance that my swim coach was a Ph.D. professor in dental materials at Northwestern’s dental school. She influenced my decision to pursue a French major with a pre-med course of study. I ultimately applied to dental school and was accepted to the University of Michigan school of dentistry where I obtained my DDS, followed by an MS to specialize in Endodontics. After 8 years at the dental school where I met my husband, we married in Ann Arbor the day after I graduated my Endodontic program, and road-tripped to Denver the following day.
I began my 26-year career as an endodontist with Endodontics of Cherry Creek and DTC less than 1 week following my marriage.
Unexpectantly, retirement came early due to a disability. The reality of losing my professional identify and feeling of relevance in the community, I struggled to find my purpose, and more importantly, my passion.
My curiosity and need for connection to community-led me to enroll in Yoga Teacher Training. Yoga teacher training gave me a new appreciation for the enormous expanse of the yoga industry and the time commitment, thought process, and physical demands on yoga teachers. Yoga has taught me so many life skills and continues to be an integral facet of my life.
Even though I connected to the yogic lifestyle and community, I continued to feel a persistent void in my strife for a new purpose.
Going back to my loving husband of 28 years…Back in the early ‘90s when we married, we were presented with many obstacles. Not only was I 6 years his elder, but he and his family had immigrated to the US from Lebanon in the early 1980s. The families of both my maternal and paternal grandparents immigrated to the US from Latvia and Russia and were Jewish. According to both my family and my husband’s family’s heritage, and our age differential, this marriage should not have happened. We were in love and we still are!
With our beautiful melange of cultures, our food has always been an area of passion. In fact, the first time my mother-in-law ever made for me a traditional Lebanese manoosh (flatbread baked with za’atar and olive oil), I vowed to myself that I had to marry into this family! Hence, began the inception of Moussa Hamoosa before I ever thought about the business.
Fast forward to post-retirement journey to find my passion…one sleepless night in 2019, while I was unable to quiet the chatter in my brain, I got out of bed and drew a logo of Moussa Hamoosa and the famous thyme sandwich, with the slogan, “It’s Thyme”. “Moussa” (Moses) is my father-in-law’s name. A “Hamoosa” is a folded pita sandwich usually filled with za’atar/olive oil or chicken. Inspired by my husband’s Teita (grandmother), who used to send us za’atar that she made in Lebanon, I was able to replicate her recipe after she passed. This was the beginning of Ellie’s Organic Za’atar and the 2 types of vegan Za’atar flatbreads, za’atar pita chips, za’atar Yin/Yang cashews, and za’atar P-Can toppers. Currently, we sell direct to consumer on our website moussahamoosa.com and at the S. Pearl St. Farmers Market (which ended 2 weeks ago).
I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle-free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
The road has been a journey of learning. Let’s just say that technology is not my forté. From setting up the website to figuring out social media, this has opened a whole new modality of thinking and creating. I continue to struggle to make decisions about the direction of the business, distribution of product, and understanding everything from profit margin to keeping track of inventory. I innocently just want to spread the za’atar love! I’d prefer to hire others to indulge in the technology aspect of the business.
Thanks – so what else should our readers know about Moussa Hamoosa, LLC?
I am especially proud of our organic za’atar because we have had such positive feedback from true za’atar lovers and connoisseurs. Additionally, we have tried the za’atar at all of the franchised grocers and some specialty markets, and our za’atar is not only organic, but most palatable and flavorful. Not a day goes by without za’atar in our daily dietary regimen. Not only is za’atar nutrient-dense, but also delicious in flavor! It is a salt substitute, a condiment, and is touted to aid in memory and mental acuity by some cultures.
We ship anywhere in the US and will deliver locally. Just message us on our website, moussahamoosa.com!
Who else deserves credit in your story?
I am blessed to have had amazing support my entire life. As a child, teenager, young adult my parents were always 100% behind me and encouraged me to pursue my dreams consistently throughout my years. My husband is my best friend and continues to be both emotionally supportive and incredibly helpful and supportive with the technological component in running this business, Moussa Hamoosa, LLC. He also loads and unloads the car for the farmers’ market and stands beside me at most markets.
I also owe so much to my brother who helped me initiate the business, and continues to offer insightful information and advice regularly.
Certainly, I recognize that this business would not exist without my mother-in-law and father-in-law introducing me to such a beautiful culture and cuisine.
- Ellie’s organic Za’atar 4 ounce jar $10: 8 oz. Jar $18
- The OG Moussa Hamoosa Thyme sandwich, 2 for $8
- Yin/Yang za’atar Cashews 5oz. resealable bag. $5
- Ellie’s Yummy Za’atar Chips $5
- Hamoosa Pro Vegan flatbread $3
- Email: Info@moussahamoosa.com
- Website: moussahamoosa.com
- Instagram: Moussa Hamoosa
- Facebook: Moussa Hamoosa
Ellie and Ellias Najjar
Emily Sachs Wong