Refugee Week

Multi-talented Syrian entrepreneur expands business into homemade organic products

Refugee and entrepreneur Ashod Paloulian is a man of many talents. He trained to become a professional tennis player in his hometown of Aleppo, Syria, before relocating to Sydney to begin a new life.

When he first arrived in Australia, Mr Paloulian connected with Tennis Australia through SSI Ignite® Small Business Start-ups. Over the past few years, he has built up his tennis coaching business, Shooting Star Tennis, offering tennis lessons and coaching to people of all ages across Sydney. 

He also offered free coaching lessons to refugees, as he knows the importance of community and connection, particularly for new arrivals.

However, tennis coaching is not the only string in Mr Paloulian’s bow. In 2018 he launched a second business, A&S Products, selling homemade organic products at his local markets.

“My father had lots of businesses,” Mr Paloulian said. 

“He believed you should never put all your eggs in one basket”. 

The family grew up on a farm, so Mr Paloulian was involved in bee-keeping, drying fruits, and roasting nuts from a young age. 

The A&S range includes organic fruit, nuts, condiments, homemade organic apple cider vinegar and honey. A&S has built up a strong and loyal following over the past couple of years, and their very first product – pomegranate molasses – continues to be one of the best sellers, thanks to its rich, tangy syrup and medicinal properties.

Mr Paloulian began selling his products at the markets. Then when the COVID-19 pandemic started in 2020 and markets began to close down, he decided to launch a website so his customers could purchase his products online, which he did with the assistance of SSI Ignite®.

 “At Christmas, we missed three markets [due to COVID-19 restrictions],” he said. 

“We lost a lot of money, and our customers were disappointed that they had to source those foods elsewhere. It doesn’t taste as fresh or as good from the supermarkets.”

With two businesses to run and a family to care for, time is precious, but Mr Paloulian says he somehow manages to make it all work. 

“It’s down to good time management, skills and trusting yourself,” he said. His wife helps run the businesses with him, and their young children are involved too.

“We talk about business at home – we talk about everything as a family – so the children are growing up around that,” he said. 

“Every day me and my family, in the afternoon, we sit and talk about what we did in the day and what we will do tomorrow. What are the good things we’ve achieved and what we can do better the next day?”

The children like to taste test the products, make suggestions for packaging, and sometimes recruit friends for tennis coaching. 

When asked whether he thinks his children will follow in his footsteps as entrepreneurs, he said with a smile, “You will have to ask them that.” 

“By the time they are older, everything will be set up for them, but I’ve told them if you want to have a successful business, you need to think big, work hard and fight for it every day.”

Click here to visit A&S Products.