Please introduce yourself
Asalamualaikum, my name is Farhat Amin and I am so happy to have a business that helps Muslim children understand their amazing deen! When I started The Muslim Sticker Company 8 years ago I wanted to create colourful stickers that would get kids excited when they were learning about Islam and help parents make teaching Islam fun. I have 3 kids: 2 boys and a girl. Like so many other Muslim mumpreneurs it was a lack of creative Islamic resources that drove me to start my own Muslim business.
I decided to make stickers for Muslim children when my eldest son started madrassah and I began homeschooling my daughter, I was eager to find out how the Prophet (saw) raised his children and how he taught them about Islam. Every hadith I read described how loving, considerate and kind the prophet (saw) was towards his own children and he (saw) instructed Muslim parents and teachers to be patient and compassionate when teaching children.
Unfortunately, I found there was an anomaly between the sunnah of the prophet (saw) and the reality of how some Muslim teachers taught Islam to their students. I could be accused of generalising here however; many mums would agree that they do not have fond memories of the heavy-handed discipline meted out in Quran classes and madrassahs. Hence, I wanted to help Muslim parents and teachers educate and discipline their children in a positive way, rather than focusing on the negatives.
I had worked in a state school and was impressed by the positive behaviour strategies that teachers used i.e. reward stickers and badges, class reward charts, praise certificates. Very often, the students were motivated to work and responded to positive feedback rather than being told off and reprimanded. At home I was making my own Islamic behaviour chart and certificates, initially I looked for Islamic stickers that I could use but was unable to find any. Later, when I worked in an Islamic school I found that teachers faced the same problem and spent a ludicrous amount of time producing their own material. So, I was using stickers at home and school but I wanted stickers with an Islamic focus, I suddenly realized that what I should do then was follow my instincts and design some myself! I used these products every day. I understood them. So, therefore I was in the position of the consumer, and didn’t need to do tons of research; I was the target audience!
Tell us a bit about your business
There are 4 main parts to the business:
1. Stickers: Can be used by parents and teachers to motivate kids to pray salah, complete their work, reward good behaviour. I have recently designed Arabic stickers as I know that’s a language that many Muslim parents want their kids to learn.
2. Sticker activity books: Parents had asked me for sticker books so I thought I would design a few and see if they would be useful. Alhumdulillah, we now have 4 sticker activity books, inshallah each one makes learning about Islam fun.
3. Teaching resources: Every teacher/home schooler needs time-saving resources to help encourage their students/kids to learn and mark work quickly. So our pre-inked stamps, certificates and medals are very popular.
4. Muslim festival decorations: Eid, Ramadan, Aqiqah, Hajj and Umrah: I am pleased to be one of the first companies that mass produced Eid decorations, 8 years ago there was hardly anything out there and now there’s so much variety for Muslims! We should all make a big deal of Ramadan and Eid, you don’t have to buy my decorations inshallah you can make your own at home, that’s what I used to do.
5. Muslim Dolls: This is a new area I’ve decided to explore, mainly because I didn’t have any dolls when I was growing up! Seriously, I approached sisters who sell Muslim dolls and unfortunately they couldn’t sell them to me wholesale, so I decided I would start making them myself. I love sewing, I used to make dresses for my daughter and nieces so Alhumdulilah, I’m getting to use my sewing skills again.
What are the biggest challenges you have faced?
When I first started out large Muslim shops run by men demanded 30-day credit for payments or they wanted to be the sole distributer of my products because I was naïve and didn’t have a lot of business experience (I was an English teacher after all!) I agreed. Unfortunately, I ended up wasting so much time chasing late payments but it did toughen me up. I always ask for upfront payments now and never agree to any one person being the sole distributor of my products in a particular country or area. Another problem I face are companies copying my ideas, now that is inevitable and I do believe imitation is the sincerest form of flattery so it just comes with the territory.
How do you balance it all? Family and work?
I organize my day as follows, in general I wake up early, work on the business and do housework when the kids are at school, go to the gym 3 times a week (womens gym), work on the business again, then stop once the kids come home. I’ve trained my kids to be productive i.e. study, cook, wash up, hoover, tidy up and help with the business. Although I left full time teaching 2 years ago I still teach by tutoring GCSE students at home on the weekend. It’s nice I can just focus on teaching rather than disruptive behaviour or unnecessary paperwork. I also make time at least once a month to write an article for my blog, this month I wrote about ‘Prom Stress’ – should we allow our kids to go to their school prom?
Have you got any advice for aspiring mumpreneurs?
1. I would definitely recommend working from home and being your own boss, I am so happy I started The Muslimsticker Company.
2. Make everyone pay for their goods/orders before you send anything, it doesn’t matter if the order is big or small.
3. Don’t be intimidated by larger Muslim companies, if your product or service is good, you decide the price and don’t give in to demands for ‘discounts’.
4. Don’t make a large quantity of one product until you’re sure you can sell it.
5. Don’t worry about your business, your rizq it has already been allocated to you by Allah, just do as much as you can and then trust in Allah.