Please introduce yourself
My name is Sabah Nazir. I am the founder and creative director of Islamic Moments - UK's first Islamic Greeting Card and stationery company, which I founded in 2004.
I am married and blessed with four children and live in Leicester. As well as running the business full time, I am a student of advanced Quranic Arabic at the Markfield Institute in Leicestershire.
Some time after the birth of our third child, I started researching into various business ideas as I knew that working for somebody else wasn’t for me. More importantly, like alot of Muslim women, I wanted to be in control of my working hours so I could be there for my husband and children.
Tell us a bit about your business
I started analysing the market and talking to my contemporaries. I discovered there was a real lack of celebratory cards, gifts and decorative products for Muslims festivities available in UK. I also noticed that the young professional Muslim was demanding innovative Islamic products and services to meet their lifestyle.
So I created a platform with the intention of becoming an aspirational Muslim lifestyle brand - I had two goals in mind:
No 1: To design and produce high quality, products that would fit in accordance to our Muslim faith.
No 2: To ensure that these products were easily and widely available in the mainstream market place.
We initially started with a small portfolio of Eid cards, however, within a short space of time, our portfolio has vastly grown to over 400 Islamic design led products from greeting cards to notebooks, eid party supplies to art prints and we have recently launched our homeware collection of mugs and scented candles. From a one man band back in 2004, (we’ve been going for nearly 13 years Alhamdulillah) we now are a team of two full time and 3 part time staff and supply to over 300 stockists in 26 countries around the world.
What are the biggest challenges you have faced?
When I set up the business, I started at grass root levels. I had no idea about pro formas, international shipping, conversion rates and the dreaded tax man! My husband who runs his own business was a real rock and mentor. As the orders became larger, he took over the shipping and logistic side of things.
My biggest challenge back then was lack of space, as we gradually grew our product lines, housing all the stock became a real issue in our house, so we had to look for business premises not only to accommodate the stock but more importantly for stock control. This was the best business decision we made as it really did ease the burden of running a business from home. Things became a lot more swifter and professional I believe from then on.
How do you balance it all? Family and work?
I speak on behalf of all women entrepreneurs when I say this is no doubt the most challenging aspect of running your own business. The constant guilt and balancing work/ family life is non stop and is all part and parcel of being your own boss. Although I love every minute of it and wouldn’t change it for anything. Ive learnt to be super organised although I have days when I will procrastinate absolutely everything and then the work load just piles up!
I have learnt to take time out on weekends to catch up with my family and I am lucky enough to work from home so I don’t have to worry about child care when the children are off school.
Have you got any advice for aspiring mumpreneurs?
1- Firstly, be organised - Im a huge advocate of micro management. Setting up and running a business requires a lot of running around and if you can organise your workload to some extent, it really will make your life that little bit easier.
2- I know its an obvious one, but it really is a must have! a business plan - It will help you stay motivated, focused and make you work towards your goals. It’s all too easy to procrastinate when you are working for your self.
3- It is also very important to keep an eye on your expenses - its very easy to go overboard when your starting off.
4- You have to be passionate about what you do, stay innovative and keep improving your product/services. The one thing that I have stuck with right from the beginning is constantly review my designs and products.
To me it is absolutely paramount to bring new and innovative designs into the market place each season so as to keep our ranges fresh.
1- Don’t get disheartened on the first few hurdles, it takes a lot of time, hard graft and patience building a business from the ground up
2- By all means, listen to others advice, but don’t get too swayed, it can be overwhelming, stay true to your instinct.
3- Lastly, if your are thinking on embarking on your entrepreneurial journey, there will no doubt be highs and lows, you will be putting in a lot of extra hours, you’ll become quite unsociable at times, you'll get tested physically, mentally and emotionally. Try not to lose yourself in all of this. When things are not going quite your way, take a step back, always have faith in the All Mighty and remember Allah is with those who are patient.