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Meet David Barron and Khalida Brohi of The Chai Spot in Sedona

Today we’d like to introduce you to David Barron and Khalida Brohi.

David and Khalida, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
My wife and I come from opposite ends of the earth, literally. She comes from a tribal village in Pakistan, while I grew up in a progressive family in Los Angeles. Yet somehow, despite our countless differences–cultural and personal–we fell madly in love. We overcame so many impossible challenges to bring our lives and our families together, and in doing so built a bridge where others could join us on our colorful, flavor, and vibrant journey. We call it The Chai Spot.

Our love came at a time when the world couldn’t be more divided. While the Internet and the 24-hour news cycle have made it seem like Timbuktu was just out our back door, the result has been fear far more than excitement.

So, when my wife and I fell in love in 2014, both of our families vehemently opposed the idea. My wife, Khalida Brohi comes from an indigenous tribe in the mountains of Baluchistan. Since her teenage years, she has worked tirelessly as an advocate for women’s rights, especially in rural communities. In contrast, I have lived the life of a middle-class urbanite. enjoying the best schools, movie theaters, and hot showers whenever I wanted them. That our worlds collided at all is absurd, and our love is nothing short of a miracle. It took us both an entire year to convince our families to consider the idea, let alone meet. We witnessed fear in the hearts of those we’ve thought closest to us. We came to understand that the issue we were tackling was something bigger than ourselves, something global really, and it eats at each of our hearts. But soon we came to realize that the differences between us are what make us all beautiful, and that those differences should be celebrated rather than feared.

After a 10-day traditional and exquisite wedding in Pakistan, we decided that instead of having an American wedding for my family and friends in the States, we would launch an initiative that brought the beauty of Pakistan to America, while at the same time supporting the women that Khalida had worked hard to empower in the villages by teaching them to turn their domestic embroidery and sewing skills into sellable products. The Chai Spot was born. It is a place that provides a safe space for conversations, that encourages people to see beyond differences, that enables individuals to grow beyond mere tolerance, to appreciation. The day we opened our doors in August 2015 was the day a new kind of revolution began–the chai revolution–a delicious beverage which exists solely to bring people together, whether friend, family or foe. All while surrounded by the vibrant colors, patterns, and handmade gifts from Women in Pakistan.

Today, The Chai Spot is one of the most visited places in Sedona. People from all around the world return time and again to sip on our chai, the best chai in America, enjoy our beautiful decor and make friends, leaving their differences and their fears at the door.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
It’s been an incredible 2 years of business. Our guests have received us with love, supporting our initiatives in Pakistan, and ensuring that the business thrives everyday. Guests who make Sedona an annual, or monthly retreat, are always sure to stop by The Chai Spot. We have guests drive all the way from Phoenix and Prescott just to get a chai from us and relax in our splendid atmosphere. They respond generously to the environment of love and understanding that we have created at The Chai Spot, and the delicious chai we offer. However, since the presidential election last November when fear of others and uncertainty enveloped our entire nation, we have encountered less excitement and acceptance. People who were already reluctant, became dismissive, and those who were eager to participate are now self-conscious of appearing controversial. Our main mission to empower women in Pakistan became a difficult pitch, even if it meant making the world a better place. It has been a setback for us, but not an insurmountable one. We continue to rise and will continue to grow.

The Chai Spot – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
The Chai Spot is a social enterprise dedicated to building bridges between the East and the West while empowering women and children in Pakistan. We are a chai lounge that serves delicious tea in a traditionally inspired environment, surrounded by the vibrant decor and fashion products that delight the eye and style the body.

We offer an array of traditional and seasonal teas, accompanied by delicious local organic baked goods and South Asian snacks and treats. Our Traditional Cardamom Chai and our Coconut Rose Chai (vegan) are our signature beverages. The Chai Spot provides our guests with an extraordinary experience for all the senses: the scent of fresh spices, comforting flavors, plush seating, exotic colors and patterns, and upbeat Bollywood songs. We give our guests a place to relax, make new friends, and see the world through chai colored glasses, where everything is colorful, beautiful and happy.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
We measure success one guest at a time. Helping one person to be unafraid. We are open and engaged in sharing love and caring for those who need our help and support, both here and abroad. We inspire action, enabling people to see through all that they have been seeing in the media, making their own decisions instead.

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Getting in touch: VoyagePhoenix is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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