With a comedic yet caring personality and a big, contagious smile, you can tell when you speak, Ayham Al-Mashni truly wants to listen.
Ayham is a bilingual Jordanian lawyer and partner at Haobsh & Mashni Advocates & Legal Consultants, and while he’s only been a member at the Foundry for one year, he feels like a permanent fixture..
Ayham moved to Canada in April 2022 to help take care of his dad. His parents had retired in Collingwood and although Ayham had visited several times in the past, it was never for a very long stretch of time — and never in the winter. It was a sizable uproot from his familiar life in Jordan, and little did he know it would be the beginning of one of the most transformational years in his life.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
Ayham was born and raised predominately in Jordan, and before becoming a lawyer, he had wanted to be a historian. He has always been fascinated with history and our ability to see how life now compares to life in olden times.
“My parents didn’t like the idea, so we compromised,” he laughed.
He left home quite young, around the age of 16, to go to school in the United States before attending law school in the United Kingdom. His parents moved to Canada for work around the same time, so after he graduated with a Bachelor of Law from the University of Bristol in England, he moved back to Jordan on his own.
He has since accumulated extensive experience in international law, governance, NGO, policy advice and governmental law at top law firms. He has also worked on dozens of arbitration agreements, and gained significant experience at top global centers in London, Geneva, Paris, Dubai, Doha, Muscat, Abu Dhabi, Riyadh, Beirut, Cairo and Amman, to name a few.
Then, back in Jordan, he co-found Haobsh & Mashni with his partner, Jansiet Haobsh, in 2020, and it quickly “flourished.”
“We complement each other very well,” Ayham said.
Haobsh & Mashni has grown to be a dedicated full-practice law firm based out of Amman, Jordan, but through a network of affiliates, serves clients in 22 jurisdictions around the Middle East and North Africa regions.
Fortunately, the majority of the business was virtual even prior to the pandemic, so it allowed Ayham to move to Canada without too much disruption.
He also felt that after over a decade in law, he’s accumulated the experience that has allowed him to start to relax in his career.
So, when he’s not advising the Government of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan on its international treaty obligations, including the Ministry of Water and Irrigation or the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources, Ayham is likely grabbing a drink, deep in good conversation with a new friend or colleague here in Collingwood.
Well that, or he’s dealing in coins.
If you’ve spent any time on the top floor of the Foundry over the past year, you’ve likely noticed Ayham hard at work, hunched over piles and piles of shiny little objects being sorted, stacked or separated into little bags waiting to be shipped.
Well, those mysterious “objects” are actually ancient coins that could date as far back as the time man first began using tools.
For many collectors, their love of history inspires their journey through coins, and that’s exactly how Ayham got hooked when he was just a young kid.
It started as a hobby, purely out of interest, and it wasn’t until he was studying in England that his pastime developed more professionally. The U.K. had a big market for collector coins, so Ayham started helping in auction houses because of his interest in numismatics — the study of coins and other currency units — but he never thought of doing it as an actual job.
Then, during Covid, everyone had extra time on their hands, so he started to invest more in it. Ayham would procure coin collections, sort through them, preserve and restore the ones he saw fit, and then resell them in online auctions. At the start, he was preserving about five coins a day. He loved it.
“It’s fun work,” he said. “And it was making me money.”
When Ayham’s dad was diagnosed with an illness and he uprooted his life to take care of him, he found himself in need of a distraction from both his life and his legal career, so he became even more consumed with coins.
And business took off.
“The funny thing is, my dad always warned me that if I studied history, I would never make any money from it,” said Ayham. “See, I ended up making money through history!”
He began buying and selling all types of ancient and modern coins and paper money through his business, House of Caesars and Caliphs, and started building a small team.
Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for him to learn that a hobby is no longer a hobby once you put a price tag on it, and the business started to consume his life.
“When I made the very conscious decision of making this a business, it was to help escape the stresses of law. Now, the operation has become more stressful than my legal career,” he said.
He still loves the physical act of preservation, so he is temporarily dialing back the coin business, but he said he has no plans to give it up altogether.
“When I was doing this in the beginning it was so fun because one, it was making me a bit of money, but two, I really loved it,” he said. “It’s enjoyable when you are doing it on a small, controllable scale.”
As well, while Ayham was battling with what to do in business, he was also fighting an internal battle. Ayham ended up losing his father a few months back, and as the holidays approached, he realized he never really gave himself the time he truly needed to heal. His father was his idol, the strongest man he had ever met, and when he lost him, he felt he had lost a piece of himself.
“Home to me was gone,” he said.
With that came the ultimate decision to move from Collingwood, where he first landed in Canada, to Toronto.
“I have made a very healthy amount of relationships and connections here, they are the hardest to leave,” he said. But with everything that has happened in the past year, he is finally giving himself some time to “reboot.”
At the same time, there are a lot of exciting developments happening in his legal business, so he said it’s also time he shifts the majority of his focus back to his partner, and being in the city will help him do that.
That said, Ayham will be back in Collingwood often visiting his mother, so he’s traded his full-time desk at the Foundry for a community membership and plans to continue to foster the relationships and connections he’s built in this area.