‘The Always Pan is our answer to a simple question,’ says Shiza Shahid, founder of the kitchenware brand Our Place, who is bringing fresh perspective to cookware for the contemporary kitchen. ‘Why do we need so many pots and pans of specific shapes and sizes when one pan could do so much more?’ 

‘It’s one pan that replaces eight kitchen pieces, shallow enough to flip a pancake and deep enough to make soup. It comes with a nesting spatula and a steamer basket that doubles as a colander. It has an exclusive non-toxic non-stick coating that makes clean-up a breeze, and it is so beautiful you’ll never want to put it away.’

The Always Pan made by Our Place in light gray with steamer and spoon

The story behind Our Place

The design of the pan was inspired by Shahid’s own childhood in Pakistan, where home cooking was at the forefront of her familial culture but for which her mother and other relatives only ever used one or two pans. 

When she immigrated to America, Shahid noticed that there was a proliferation of unnecessary cookware on the market, but not any products specifically designed for a multicultural kitchen that were easy to use and celebrated the food traditions of diverse cultures. Her brand Our Place, of which Always Pan is the signature product, was the solution. 

Our Place founder Shiza Shahid with the brand’s Always Pans
Our Place founder Shiza Shahid with the brand’s Always Pans

It should be noted that beyond her career as a kitchenware entrepreneur, Shahid is a celebrated activist and women’s rights advocate. She is the former and founding CEO of the Malala Fund, an international, non-profit organisation that advocates for girls’ education around the world, and mentor to the world’s youngest Nobel Prize laureate, Malala Yousafzai. 

Cookware may not seem like the obvious next step for an important activist, but to Shahid, the move was a logical and necessary one. ‘In food media and mainstream kitchenware industry, home-cooking traditions of communities like my own have often been erased, co-opted or overlooked. I know what it means to me to have my traditions recognised, to feel seen, and that’s what we try to do at Our Place through our storytelling, our product design, our give-backs, and our platform.’ 

Our Place Always Pan in pink with wood steamer

Beyond the Always Pan, the brand’s inclusive mission is realised through its Traditionware collections. ‘Our Traditionware collections are designed to celebrate home-cooking traditions: from Nochebuena to Lunar New Year, Shabbat to Ramadan, we create collections that honour all traditions,’ says Shahid. 

‘Sometimes that means sharing very specific items that are on the table during the celebration. For Nochebuena for example, we sourced hand-carved molcajetes made from volcanic rock, and mezcal glasses made from recycled glass from our artisan partners.’

always pans by our place in pink, dark grey, blue, and green

When it comes to these collections, it is important to Shahid that every one of the products is created by local communities. ‘For each Traditionware collection, we partner with the community that celebrates that tradition from start to finish. Whenever possible, we work with the community itself to make the products.’

‘For Nochebuena we travelled to Oaxaca, Mexico, and partnered with several artisans who are preserving indigenous crafts, such as backstrap loom weaving, and using sustainable materials. We spent a lot of time with the artisans and were honoured to bring their beautiful craftsmanship to a wider audience.’ 

In this way and more, Our Place is a brand made for the modern era, with an insistence on diversity and social consciousness underpinning its mission.

Our Place Always Pan in green alongside our place kitchenware

In just over a year since its founding, Our Place has built a leadership team composed primarily of people of colour and women, donated 250,000 meals to Feeding America, and partnered with Vote.com to create a national billboard campaign featuring immigrant voices in key swing states. 

All in all, Shahid’s goal is to create objects that facilitate two fundamental human needs – to eat and to communicate. ‘As immigrants, my partner and I literally found our place by cooking and sharing foods with our new communities,’ she says.

‘That’s why we created Our Place – to bring people together. We make it easier to cook at home so you can spend more time sharing a meal with your chosen family.’ §