A Note For Mothers Who Want To Be Entrepreneurs: Don't Be Afraid To Shake Up The Status Quo
In terms of advice for fellow mothers and women, we'd like them to understand that contrary to traditional opinion, we can have it all. The world we live in, especially post-pandemic, has given us all impetus to think outside the box.
This article has been co-written with Geraldine Beacon, co-founder, Ineza.
Women have been striving for gender equality long before the suffragette movement of the early 20th century, and over the decades, they have been successfully pushing the envelope and steering themselves successfully in positions on boards and in senior management roles, and not confining themselves to the boundaries that have been set historically.
Indeed, the C-suites of most industries are now seeing a new level of female representation. In addition, with the naughties witnessing the explosion of the Silicon Valley space and startups, women are finding themselves stronger than ever in creating success stories of their own in leading businesses.
As such, the story of how we launched our company, Ineza, is perhaps not unique, but it is certainly peppered with empathetic anecdotes that we are sure will resonate with many women and mothers. To go back to the beginning, the two of us started our careers together back in 2011 in a luxury boutique integrated communications agency, where we worked with top tier brands on propelling their brand growth strategies.
Working in an emerging market as expats, it was an enthralling time in our careers, where we had a very productive professional relationship and a strong friendship to match. It was an exciting time where life consisted of working hard and playing even harder, where we organized and frequented some of the biggest and best events and launches of the region, and enjoyed somewhat of a hedonistic lifestyle.
As time progressed, our career paths met again- this time, we worked together in-house in one of the world’s biggest energy companies. Did destiny have a hand to play in it– well, who knows? Having said that, it was wonderful to be working together again, even though the stage in which we were in life had changed. From unstoppable career women, we had now become mothers, and whilst embracing the seriousness of the corporate world, we had to balance it with the responsibility of motherhood.
This balance was sometimes a juggling act, but to our credit, we had mastered it. However, the perspective we had toward work had changed. Working mothers, especially those with young children, can often find themselves always on call- they do not have the luxury of turning their phones off, and they have to be ready to travel at the drop of a hat. Generally, there is much more planning to take into consideration in such a role.
The term “mum guilt” is a perfectly coined phrase that describes how one navigates through this half-way house of being everything. The reciprocal is that as working mothers, we do it all, and we do it extremely well. We concurrently manage both jobs to the best of our ability, and in theory, we are flourishing in a capitalist ecosystem built to make all those who are in it to thrive with opportunities.
As such, we cannot deny that there are many doors that one can open- but mothers also need to be supported in progressing forward, especially when you consider those facing difficulties in this juggling act are often left behind. It was upon the respective birth of our second children that we began to ask ourselves a couple of key questions, starting with: “Are we harnessing the best versions of ourselves?”
We then followed that up with: “At this life stage, can we achieve (and allow) an environment where we have a work-life balance with our children? Do we need to reassess our life choices?” It’s by answering questions like these that we started to aggressively assess the market for gaps and trends that aligned with our experience and skillsets, and then work out where we sat best on that axis.
That’s how we stumbled across a particular décor trend that was new and innovative in its aesthetic. From catwalks to concerts, from private members clubs to fine dining establishments, there was a sleek and sophisticated new aesthetic being created with balloons, and as much as it was a trailblazing trend in the events space, we also saw that more and more people were wanting to make use of it in their occasions.
Knowing that the Middle East was not one to be left behind, we extensively researched the market, and we failed to find an effective comparative. This led us to Europe to personally undertake a course in London to understand the mechanics ourselves. The rest, as they say, is history: we are now over a year since Ineza’s inception, and even through a pandemic, we’re proud to be a growing business with a plethora of top-tier corporate clients.
However, at the heart of it all is a deeper question: “Did we achieve what we set out to?” We built a brand from the ground-up, utilized the skills from our corporate backgrounds, and built on our tacit knowledge to create a credible and successful brand. If you were to ask us what does success look like, we’d reply that we are still on that journey -although it has been peppered with several milestones already.
And so, as we reach each particular rung of success, it opens new doors for us, but we also have to admit that it is an arduous and hard task to run your own business. After all, when you’re an entrepreneur, ultimately “the buck stops with you,” but that said, having committed to this journey, we do feel a sense of achievement, and if success were to be mapped in terms of reaching one’s objectives, we feel like we do not fall too short from that.
In terms of advice for fellow mothers and women, we’d like them to understand that contrary to traditional opinion, we can have it all. The world we live in, especially post-pandemic, has given us all impetus to think outside the box. We are defying odds in every sphere in life, and pursuing a career need not be a conventional one- pursuing a passion is more important.
We turn up every day, for our families, for our children, for our homes, and it is equally important that we turn up for ourselves in creating a blueprint of what we feel success looks like. It will not always be what you expected, and you may have moments of self-doubt, but your story may be one that inspires another generation of mothers and women to shake off the shackles of the status quo, and join a new wave of entrepreneurs.
Zahra Jaffery is the co-founder of Ineza. Founded in January 2020, Ineza offers bespoke luxury décor curating and styling services. The inception of the brand took place when the founders observed a gap in the UAE market offering bespoke décor solutions. Centered around principles of innovation and creativity, the founders believed in the idea of artful décor such as floral arrangements and balloon displays that can enhance a space, along with being a perfect and classic gift for loved ones.