My Muslim Mums in Business series focus’s on inspirational Muslim women, who are balancing the art of motherhood along with running businesses.
Please introduce yourself and your business
Hi, my name is Sainab and I run a business with my sister called Barakah London. It is an abaya brand where we custom make abayas for clients. We sell online through our website www.barakahlondon.com. We also offer a service where we meet with our clients in London, which gives us the opportunity to get to know them, measure them and help design abayas for them.
What inspired you to start working from home? Did anyone in particular inspire you?
When we first started, I guess it was inevitable we would start from home. The reason for this being because we didn’t have a studio to make all of the abayas from. We had everything we needed to start making from home so, we just started from there.
Have you always had an interest in fashion? What made you want to design your own abayas?
Fashion and making clothes has always run in our family. Our aunt and mum used to make and sell traditional clothing back home. People would come and ask for clothes to be made and they would make it for them. Growing up, we always had an interest in clothing and once we learnt that there wasn’t such a great presence of abaya fashion in the UK, we decided to start our own.
Having that interest in fashion, pretty much all throughout our lives, we both chose to study it. We then worked in the industry too. I worked as a seamstress at a couture boutique where they would handmake clothing for clients. And my sister worked at an abaya boutique where she learnt the art of selling abayas and knowing what exactly clients in London prefer.
You are in business with your sister. How do you find that? Would you say it makes it easier if you are working with a family member?
I personally really enjoy working with her. Because we understand each other creatively, it makes designing very easy for us. I would say yes, working with a family member makes our business easier. We are more understanding towards each other when personal circumstances arise. For example, if my son falls ill, it is easier for me to take a day off. I would just pick my work back up the day after or when he is better.
We liked working together so much that we recently hired our youngest sister to the team. She deals with the admin side of our business masha’Allah. It was one of our best decisions as it gives us more time for the creative side of things.
Are the rest of your family supportive of you being a working mother?
Yes Alhamdulillah our mother really likes the fact that we all work together. It keeps us close as a family. My husband really likes it too. He has always been supportive of my business even though it can be quite demanding at times he is very patient with it.
What are the main challenges you face as a mum and an entrepreneur?
Time. Trying to make time for everything! Making time for the kids, my family running the business my deen. But Alhamdulillah, because we run a family business, it does soften the blow a bit.
Describe a typical working day. Are there specific times in the day that you work on your business?
The business basically revolves around the demands of being a wife and mother for me. I am a lot more flexible with work because I run the business with my sister. It definitely isn’t a 9-5 type job. Because it is creative I am a lot more flexible with my hours because of the responsibilities of being a wife and a mother. Also, the work I do is very versatile, it’s easier to accommodate to because of motherhood. During the week we have targets to reach and we help each other in different ways with the targets. I don’t work during normal working hours, I make sure I get work done while my kids are sleeping, busy playing or when I have someone look after them.
On your toughest days, what helps keep you motivated?
Good question. This is going to sound so cliche but it’s the simple fact that I am doing what I love. It is hard in general, but seeing a client’s face after we have made an abaya they love makes it all worthwhile! I always feel a sense of accomplishment after finishing something and even more so when the client loves it too!
Where would you like to see your business in the future?
I would love to see it grow, maybe see ourselves turn more into a lifestyle brand. So we expand into selling a more variety of abayas for example, kids abayas, bridal abayas and hijabs.
What advice would you give to mums considering taking the step of being a working mum?
I say do it! If you’re like me and you find it hard to just stop doing things, then turn what you love doing into a way of making money. The great part of it is you are your own boss. Everything happens in your time.