International Women’s Day - Interview with Jess, our DIRTEA COO


As the world comes together to celebrate the brilliance and resilience of women everywhere, we couldn't be more excited to introduce you to the powerhouse behind DIRTEA’s operations, our very own Chief Operating Officer, Jess Salmanpour!

Today, amidst all the hustle and bustle of global recognition, let's take a moment to kick back, relax, and bask in the glow of Jess's incredible journey. From being one of the brilliant minds behind DIRTEA’s inception to steering the ship as our COO, Jess embodies the spirit of leadership, innovation, and empowerment.

But hey, it's not all spreadsheets and strategy sessions with Jess! We've also got some burning questions about her passion for mushrooms – after all, who better to ask than our very own mushroom queen?

So, grab your favourite cuppa, cosy up, and join us as we delve into Jess's world of business, mushrooms, and everything in between. It's bound to be a brew-tiful conversation!

Jess, tell us about the events that led you to DIRTEA. 

My professional background has always been in startups and taking companies public. I thrived on leading dynamic teams and propelling businesses forward. However, after becoming a mother to my two children, I yearned for something with a deeper purpose, something that could make a real positive impact on the world. I toyed with various concepts and ideas until fate introduced me to Andrew and Simon, whom I affectionately call the mushroom brothers. After hearing their vision and experiencing the transformative power of mushrooms myself for a week, I vividly recall telling my husband, "I've found my calling. I'm going to build a health brand that not only makes money but also heals the world." COVID served as a stark reminder of the importance of mental health, immunity, and community, values that align closely with DIRTEA’s mission.

Functional mushrooms have gained popularity in recent years. What trends or developments in the industry have you noticed, and how has your DIRTEA adapted to them?

The pandemic underscored the significance of our health and spurred widespread interest in adaptogens and natural remedies. Ancient ingredients, such as mushrooms, are now in the spotlight. While some products may follow fleeting trends, at DIRTEA, we remain steadfast in our commitment to quality and efficacy. We've surrounded ourselves with experts in mycology, nutrition, biohacking, neuroscience, and therapy to ensure our products are crafted with the utmost potency and integrity. We've expanded beyond mushrooms to incorporate other powerful adaptogens like ashwagandha and moringa into our super blends, staying true to our ethos of providing top-tier products with customers at the forefront of our mind. 

What is it like working at DIRTEA?

It is full-on! It is an ever-changing market of do’s and don’ts that we need to follow. Having a mission to want to improve people's lives and being a health and wellness brand is not easy, but I wouldn’t change it for anything. We have an incredible team and vision, and it feels like we are working on an overall purpose, which is a privilege. Every day is different. 

As a female leader, what perspective do you bring to the brand?

I am through and through an entrepreneur, and things such as empathy, drive, and positivity are at the forefront of how I lead. I always have an open mind; I believe you must take responsibility for your actions and lead by example. Everyone has a voice, and I am always trying to evolve and improve myself. 

How has DIRTEA evolved since you started? 

Originally, we launched with our pure mushroom products. However, we quickly recognised that people have established daily habits they prefer to maintain while seeking enhancements. Our core values of integrity and excellence have become more prominent. We prioritise educating individuals in the wellness sphere, aiming to lead by example. Through this journey, we've fostered a community of individuals eager to share their experiences and innovative ways of integrating adaptogens into their diets.

How have you evolved since you started working with DIRTEA?

I am a very driven person, and morals and values are super important to me. I don’t let others bother me and don’t surround myself with people who are envious or negative. I care what I think of myself. I think kindness and compassion go a long way in life, and that is how I lead. 

What is one trait of yours you’d hope to lead / inspire others with? 

Having core values is important to me, both personally and professionally. I lead by example and your gut instinct is normally right. I always say that I hold myself to a higher standard than everyone does and that is important to me.

What advice would you give to other women who aspire to become leaders?

Don’t over-explain!  Women have the tendency to hate discussing money or over-explaining themselves. I say if you have an opinion, don’t be afraid to speak up and always have the data to back it. 

Do you think it’s important to have a mentor? 

Absolutely. I'm fortunate to have several mentors whom I greatly admire and respect. I firmly believe that having guidance and learning from others is invaluable.

Who inspires you? 

  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg, renowned for her advocacy in advancing women's rights and gender equality.
  • Esther Perel, known for her insightful perspectives on relationships, intimacy, and the importance of setting boundaries.
  • Brené Brown, whose work has illuminated the transformative power of vulnerability and courage.
  • Gabor Maté, recognised for his profound insights into the impact of stress and trauma on mental and physical health.
  • Gabby Bernstein, celebrated for her teachings on the potential of manifestation and harnessing personal power.
  • Marisa Peer, who guides individuals on enhancing their self-worth and unlocking their full potential to live a glorious life. You need to believe in yourself and what you do. This resonates with me as I believe in DIRTEA and all we do as a company.

Let’s just say I have a few and I draw inspiration from all.

What are some of the biggest challenges you have faced as a woman in leadership?

I often didn’t feel heard. I would shy away from certain topics and doubted things or overanalysed everything. Now, however, I follow my gut and intuition. 

What advice do you have for individuals interested in incorporating functional mushrooms into their daily wellness routines?

Do your research! If you are going to try them, take them daily for a month and document how you feel. It is not about reinventing the wheel, just upgrading whatever you are doing. The blends are the easiest way to do this. If you are a coffee lover, try our mushroom coffee blend.

What’s been the most exciting project / partnership or accomplishment while working at DIRTEA?

There have been several highlights, including launching the world's first mushroom bar in Selfridges and embarking on the DIRTEA Truck Tour across the UK to introduce mushrooms to the masses.

Which DIRTEA mushrooms do you take and when? 

I am obsessed with DIRTEA Coffee, I have it every morning without fail as it provides me with a much-needed energy boost without any jitteriness, while still giving me that satisfying coffee kick. In the afternoon, I indulge in DIRTEA Matcha for its smooth flavour and additional vigour. As the day winds down, I opt for DIRTEA Cacao, which has a calming effect on me, helping me unwind and relax.

How have the mushrooms impacted your life?

Mushrooms have enhanced my focus, resilience, and overall well-being. They've transformed my skin, hair, and nails, and allow me to show up as the best version of myself constantly.

And for one of our favourite questions - If you were stranded on an island, which mushroom would you want with you and why? 

That is a hard one. It would have to be one of the super blends as they have multiple products in so I would say the DIRTEA Coffee. If you tell me that is cheating, then I would say Tremella. I love the taste and it makes my skin feel hydrated and my hair and nails feel great.

As we celebrate International Women's Day, Jess's story serves as a reminder of the boundless potential within each of us to effect positive change. Her commitment to integrity, innovation, and empowerment not only propels DIRTEA forward but also ignites a spark of possibility for aspiring leaders everywhere.

With Jess at the helm, DIRTEA continues to innovate, educate, and empower individuals to embrace holistic wellness and unlock their full potential. As we raise our cups to toast to Jess and all the trailblazing women like her, let us be inspired to pursue our passions, uphold our values, and leave a lasting impact on the world around us. Cheers to Jess, to DIRTEA, and to the limitless possibilities that lie ahead!