Hi! My name is Alia and I am a 33 year old Turkish-Palestinian entrepreneur. I recently moved to Canada and co-found a company called BabyMAMA which is a clothing brand meant to cater to women who are breastfeeding. My sister, Thoria, and I founded it together. Thoria is a single mom, with her masters in Biomedical Engineering, so that helped a great deal in terms of designing our clothing and finding the most efficient way to make clothing for these new moms. We initially started with abayas as our clothing items and soon transitioned to fully functioning tops and bottoms. Our business allhum became a huge success- we ended up opening a store at Santan Village Mall. Now, we are in the middle of rebranding and strategizing for the next big step.
The idea came about when one day, both my sisters were breast feeding, and my aunt said, “Why don’t I make you something more comfortable to wear?” Right then and there, the talks of a business began. We realized that we live in a world where there really aren’t many options for a postpartum mother. A lot of women’s choice of clothing is very limited after labor, and it takes a very long time for their bodies to adjust after pregnancy. For instance, how often do women breastfeed and never have comfortable, efficient clothing while doing so? It all seemed like a great idea, one that would help many women everywhere. A store for baby and mamma.
While my sisters were involved in the creative aspect, I came in with the business point of view, especially as a bachelors in Business. At the time, I personally had a job I loved. I worked with smaller companies and made them into LLC’s. I had worked with large technology firms and really enjoyed my work. However, I was still interested, because I was tired of giving my talent to the 1%.
When we eventually opened our store, it featured items for baby and mamma. We had gender reveal dresses, comfortable modest clothing for breast feeding, comfortable shoes, and more. We had events such as Eid Sale, Christmas Sale, and more. Our store was for women of all religions and races. When people bought from us, they knew they were supporting a mother. We even had a hospital ward nearby, so many dads would come to our store, buying gifts for their wives/families and newly borns.
Often, our store would have many Muslim men come to us and inquire about our success. They would often ask “How did you guys open this store? Did you have any help?”. It was funny because it almost seemed like they didn’t believe women could have done it alone.
So many women in our communities are so scared to take risks. The only thing you really need to success is faith and networking. The way my sister and I handled it was we took the hater comments in how we ran our business as feedback, and used that to turn our business stronger and better than before.
Hi! My name is Azra and I am a 25 year old full time wedding photographer for about three years now! I currently live in Toronto, Canada, and studied Computer Science at university. I wanted to be a software developer at the time and work in the medical field. I soon realized that the 9-5 job wasn’t my thing - it just didn't excite me. At the time, I was doing photography part time and was shooting weddings on the weekends. It got me thinking - I was more excited for my photoshoots than I was for my job which just didn't sit well with me. After a long journey, I decided to pursue wedding photography full time.
Thankfully, I had so many people who helped make my decision. My fiancé was very supportive about taking my business full time. My parents, having my best interests at heart, wanted me to pursue computer science and do photography on weekends. However, when my parents saw me get a lot of booking in my last year of university, they could see how much I loved doing this and how great of a market there is for wedding photography. Slowly but surely, they came around. When I look back, I’m happy I stuck by what I love doing. I don’t like to do too many things at once because I know I can’t put my100% into any of them. When I was giving myself half here and half there felt like I wasn’t putting my full attention into my business and amazing clients.
My advice to other young women who are looking to pursue their dreams is the following; If you have a passion, follow it no matter what. However, be smart about it. For example, if you want to have your own business, it might not be smart to take it full time right away. You might want to start it on the side and build it to a point where you can make as much per year as you are currently making, before quitting your current job. Strategize, think of everything from various different angles, and take a leap.
For me, becoming a full time wedding photographer first started by second shooting for other photographers, taking classes, building my portfolio, and improving my own craft. I realized that the only way to be happy with my own life, is to take steps towards what I want to do. I am so grateful that I have done so- alhamdulillah!
Hi! My name is Maryama Abdullahi and I am a 21 year old Somali-American. I am a senior studying Business Administration with an emphasis in Marketing and I currently reside in Kansas City, Missouri. My parents were Somali refugees so there was a lot of pressure on my sister and I to succeed in our education. My sister took the medical route, while I took the business route. My mother herself also had a boutique, so she understood that side of me. For my parents, they were always very supportive of our dreams and the career paths we choose to take. Their number 1 rule was for us to do what we love as long as we made sure it’s something we were going to be consistent about.
Interestingly enough, I decided to pursue Marketing because of my love for fashion. Fashion has always been my calling since I always had an eye for colors and textiles. Growing up, my family moved around a lot so I had to learn how to quickly make friends and fashion was a great help. In high school, I felt out of place and ironically invisible even though I was the only hijabi which stood out very visibly. I noticed that everyone had a hobby or a club that they identified with and I was still struggling to figure out what I was passionate about. Thankfully, I was told our school had a Design Club and I immediately joined which is where my love for fashion grew immensely.
That’s why I began my Instagram. I began to document my clothes, style, fashion sense and more. Instagram has become a platform to showcase my creativity. I feel like I belong in fashion and this industry, but I also felt like I wanted a little bit more stability in my career. I picked Marketing as my major because I wanted to make sure I combined business and fashion. Everyday, I feel a sense of belonging, which is how I know I am pursuing the right path. I finally feel seen!
One piece of advice I would give to anyone who blogs on Instagram - ONLY do what you feel comfortable doing. I realized that as creatives everything we post is art, and just like other artists our art should be published to the world when we genuinely feel like it is ready. I wanted to showcase my love for fashion when I felt the happiest not because I haven’t posted in a while and I needed to be more “consistent”. I realized that if you do something for other people and not for yourself, then you start to lose your love and passion for it which is really not worth it. Do what mentally and physically makes YOU happy. That’s really the only way to make it.