Beauty, Blog, Culture, Entrepreneurship

Substancial Living with Mahin Arastu

Have you ever felt like all was in the right place but something was missing? Mahin Arastu– the founder of Substantial Living answers our questions on food, purpose and how to live fully.

Kamila and Mahin Substancial Living & Style

Mahin Arastu in conversation with Kamila Dmowska. Both wearing Caroline Dress. Photographed by Aliona Kuznetsova.

Q: What is substantial living?

Substantial Living is a company that creates experiences that connect people together in a new way. We use elements of neuroscience, nature, and beauty to showcase food, style, and the power of authentic conversations.

I believe that Substantial experiences can inspire people to connect to craftsmanship, beautiful design, philanthropy and healthy living…and that’s what I create.  It more than just aesthetics, it comes down to our values.  How do we cultivate our values to make our lives happier in a sustainable manner?  Through curated experiences.  There is a concept in neuroscience called neuroplasticity that means that powerful experiences can change the way the brain is wired.  That’s what I help people do, live happier through cool, connected events and coaching.

I make all my food from scratch, infusing Eastern and Western flavors in a creative way.  I feature seasonal, simple ingredients, recipes, dishware, and styling in the form of private and public events and supper clubs.  Oh, and I have great stories that go with my food!  Some events, like ours, are in collaboration with local lifestyle experts whose work is similar to our company philosophy.  My hope is to create a Substantial San Francisco community where food and style are the vehicles to stimulate the art of conversation and connect people together in Substantial ways.

Q: How did you transform from neuroscience to what you doing now?

I got to a point in my life where I had “everything” and I wasn’t entirely happy.  I was looking for connection.  I realized that in today’s technologically advanced world where values of individualism and monetary success are encouraged, and while good for innovation and the economy, these values can leave people often disconnected in many other ways…ways that are much needed for the heart and soul.

Shortly after this realization, a friend and I were sitting on a farm on Martha’s Vineyard, where the conversation led to re-creating some of my life experiences to inspire others to connect and live life substantially through the patterns and elements I learned. As I thought about the modern world, and the increasing struggle for people to connect to each other in a meaningful way, I created Substantial Living. I found that authentic human connection comes from food, travel and philanthropic experiences, the simple things that we can all do, where we could connect to anyone and anywhere.  So I packed up my bags in Cambridge, and bought a one-way ticket to San Francisco and went to business school.


Pickled Mixed Vegetable Achar by Mahin Arastu

Q: What is one thing in our life we can change to live better?

Start making bread from scratch!  Yes, it’s that profound and a game-changer.  Then invite a friend over to share it with delicious cheese, fruits, or wine.  Breaking bread together is the simplest form of a Substantial Living experience.  It is simple, natural, 4 ingredients.   It helps people relate to ingredients, watching the process of nature and chemistry, and connecting to other people, and nothing smells and tasted as good as a loaf of fresh bread.  When I used to live in Cambridge, MA, instead of bringing wine or flowers to parties, I used to bring freshly baked bread-it was a hit!  I never buy bread anymore in the store.  If you have no idea of what I’m talking about, you can sign up for my “Breaking Bread” Supper Club!

If you want to learn more about Substantial Living join Mahin Arastu and Kamila Dmowska on April 22nd for Substantial Living “A mindful food and style event” in San Francisco.


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