Where to begin with this inspired muslim women in business movement? I learned about this event just a few days prior and was so glad Nida could accommodate me (even so last minute) to attend the launch. My week in Toronto was bookended with weddings, with sessions throughout the week, and I had intended to drive back to Ottawa on Saturday – so I feel like it was kismet! I was so happy to learn about it, because this is near and dear to my heart. It’s hard enough as a woman in business, but when you’re a muslim women in business (and sometimes visibly so), it’s a whole other ball game. This really has to do with culture and the way we navigate the business world. We lack resources to help us see success, especially in business education when it comes to building an empire that will cater to a diverse clientele. It’s definitely part of my long term goals to develop courses for creative entrepreneurs! Comment and let me know if you’d like to see something like that.
When I called Nida, I think I went on about the need for this muslim women in business movement for several minutes. I’ve been in business for seven years now, and one of my chief concerns are I came up was the serious lack of support and community among muslim women owned businesses. The Real W Squad was created to celebrate and empower muslim women in business, the founder, Nida is a boss and mom of four kids under four (yes, you read that right). All the kudos in the world for her drive, passion and planning to make this happen. Let’s talk about an Ottawa chapter 😉
The day opened up with coffee + croissants – followed up by a workshop from Saima Malik on the way that digital media is changing the way we interact. Saima is so impressive! Her workshop walked us through how to also define ideal clients and solve their pain points and build ideas for great business. Saima is the leader of the TD Women in Leadership program for the digital and payments area, which helps to see an increase in representation of women in leadership positions.
First on the panel was Kulsoom Kazim, a high performance coach and motivational speaker. Sidra Sayed is a talented artist in many spheres, a mom of two and owner of Sidra & Co and Sidra Art Boutique (from which I own an original photo that sits on my art gallery shelf!). Hafsa Pathan is a trailblazing woman, with a side-hustle called Honey Lemon events (planning + seasonal party supply shop) – which comes after a full time job as a PR & Marketing executive and a mom of two. Even though I’ve known Hafsa for a while, I learned a lot more about her path to success and I respect her so much more (is that even possible?). Lastly but certainly not least, Irene Sarah joined us from Sunny Los Angeles, where she is a successful blogger + influencer. Her path is anything but conventional, which we learned in her intro speech. I met Irene back in 2014 at IMFDF briefly after I had started to follow her journey. All I can say is, she makes me feel like anything is possible (which is what I felt the first time I saw her work for Miss Universe – yes she was the official photographer for them!!!).
After a delicious lunch, we regrouped for the $5k Pitch. Think Dragon’s Den, but the pitchers were small local businesses and the Dragon’s were a trio of inspiring women in business – who grew themselves in the GTA.
Shahad Mahdi – a bright entrepreneur and CEO of Black Orchid – a fashion line to depict a modern muslim women.
Salima Jivraj – the founder of Halal Foodie Blog and the Halal Food Festival – yep, THAT one. It’s enormous success is only thanks to the hustle of this strong, savvy and motivated business woman. Thanks to Salima, Muslims have a consolidated and trusted source for good halal food in the GTA.
Zehra Allibhai – A woman with a mission, Zehra is a fitness expert and business woman who’s goals include sharing accessible workouts with everyone (but especially moms). I’ve been following her journey and have tired her workouts – they are NO joke. Zehra is also now the resident fitness expert on City line. She’s created a movement – with thousands of women joining her fitness challenges.
I loved seeing the pitches that were presented to the panel, and especially was happy to see my dear friend Amanda Saab there to pitch her business, Butter Bear Shop (a bakery that gives back!). After 5 pitches, the judges deliberated and awarded the $5K to Scoria World, a local business who creates slip free yoga mats while also supporting charity.
It was a great launch, and I look forward to future workshops and events. I even hear there is a retreat being planned – would you want to attend? I’d love to hear about your business – comment below and make sure to leave your website.
Event: The Real W Squad
Venue: Space Bar Co-Working