Aabideen was first launched in 2014 by entrepreneur, Hemna Begum when she found it increasingly difficult to buy modest clothing for her teenage daughter. In just under five years, Hemna has been able to successfully transform Aabideen into a highly reputable and successful company mashaAllah.
Even more exciting, i’m thrilled to announce that Aabideen is set to open it’s first brick and mortar retail store in Irving, Texas in 2017 inshaAllah!
When asked about her vision for Aadibeen, Hemna explained, “I aim to bring designs that are simple, classic, comfortable and functional without compromising the tenets of modesty that our beautiful Deen teaches us.”
Having known Hemna for over 2o years, the one thing that has remained constant is her strength and reliance on Allah swt. No matter the challenges or setbacks, i’ve never known Hemna to be without a smile or cheerful demeanor.
As she prepares for the launch of her retail store, she shares her story with us, as well as some advice for aspiring entrepreneurs. In today’s interview, I hope to share some of her her wisdom and insights with you.
Meet Hemna Begum, a wife, mother, and entrepreneur. Originally from NY, she currently resides in Dallas, Texas.
Hemna Begum: I had thought about creating a line for many, many years, but SubhanAllah life happens. Each year was getting busier than the one before. In the summer of 2013, my husband really encouraged me to go forward with my vision. I said Bismillah and started. As my daughter was getting older, we found it increasingly difficult to find modest clothing that was both comfortable and age appropriate.
It seems like as the clothing sizes start getting bigger, the clothing becomes smaller and more revealing. The only other options available were abayaat that were designed more for elderly ladies.
Compromising the rules of Islam wasn’t an option. So we had to get really creative to find clothing that was modest and also something she could wear comfortably and confidently. I had some of her clothes custom made from tailors overseas and so many people asked about them. I realized that so many of us were feeling the same frustration and that furthered my desire to do something about it.
SB: What were the first few steps you took to get your business started?
HB: Ever since I was young, I loved sketching. I also used to clip inspiration pics from magazines and catalogues and had them stashed and clipped in a manilla folder. So I already had an arsenal of design. Besides that, the first steps involved were getting incorporated legally and finding manufacturers that could make my designs a reality.
It’s a juggling act on a daily basis. With a big family and the unpredictability of the babies, I don’t have a set schedule but I do make tons of “things to do” lists which helps me stay focused and on task. It basically feels like a real-life game of Tetris, where tasks are falling and you just have to fit them in. By 11pm, game is over 🙂
SB:What challenges did you face, if any? How did you overcome them?
HB: I have always been against fast-fashion which is essentially disposable clothing. Finding quality fabrics and consistent workmanship was a struggle. It was definitely a game of trial and error in the beginning. But once I was mostly satisfied with the fabric and quality, I then put my designs in for production.
SB: Whats the hardest part of running your own business?
HB: Something I still struggle with is asking for help or delegating work to others. Whenever one starts a venture, he/she has a vision. Sometimes its difficult to thoroughly translate that vision to others. But trying to manage it all on your own can get challenging and frankly impossible at times.
SB: What’s the best part of being your own boss?
HB: I had my daughter a few months after graduating college so I only worked for a few months under a boss. So I can’t make a fair comparison. And, my husband may argue that I’m the boss at home too 🙂 But joking aside, it’s nice because I can work at my own pace and schedule. With a large family, that is essential for me.
SB: What has been your proudest achievement till now?
HB: I don’t think I can say I exactly feel “proud”. The response Aabideen has gotten is a blessing of Allah and I am always grateful for that. However, when I see little girls so happily wearing their abayas, it fills my heart with happiness. May Allah swt protect them all and accept from us. Ameen.
SB: Is it difficult balancing work and family life? Can you describe a typical work day for you?
HB: It’s a juggling act on a daily basis. With a big family and the unpredictability of the babies, I don’t have a set schedule but I do make tons of “things to do” lists which helps me stay focused and on task. My husband travels a lot, so I don’t do a lot of my business work when he’s home. Although if there’s a lot of work that needs to be done, he’s very supportive and will help with the kids while I clock in a few solid hours of work.
On a daily basis, I usually try to get 1-2 hours of work done in the early morning before the children wake up. I can sometimes get work done while they’re awake as they play alongside. My little ones learned the colors really early on by playing with fabric color charts. I try to finish up the rest after they’ve gone to sleep, which also works out well because that’s when the offices are open overseas. It basically feels like a real-life game of Tetris, where tasks are falling and you just have to fit them in. By 11pm, game is over 🙂
In reality, it’s Allah swt who is in control. So we should work hard but pray harder. We should put less trust in ourselves and more trust in Allah swt.
SB: What sacrifices do you have to make in order to run a successful business?
HB: When I started the business, I told myself that my family and kids will always come first. So I try to limit my business related work to when the kids are in school or when they’re sleeping. But there have been times when I’m holding a cranky baby while helping a customer or being really busy trying to meet important deadlines. But alhamdullillah, right now those days are far and few inbetween, but that can get challenging at times.
SB: Do you have specific marketing strategies?
HB: The best marketing is the product itself. I have vended at many conferences and local bazaars. It’s nice to showcase the clothing and talk to customers on a personal basis. I prefer that the customers see and feel the fabric and try on different sizes to see what works best for them. I want them to be happy with what they are purchasing. And even if you don’t have the means to grow, always have a vision on what your next step would be and work towards it.
SB: Do you have a mentor or someone you turn to for advice when you’re stuck on something?
HB: As far as mentors, I am always bouncing off ideas with my husband who has always been an incredible support alhamdullillah. I also consult my 16 year old daughter if I am double-guessing color choices 🙂 Also, I am also very fortunate to have an elder brother who has been in the business field for 20 years alhamdullillah. And of course, I wouldn’t be anywhere without the duas and advice of my parents. When I’m stuck or indecisive about a big step, the dua of Istikhara always puts my heart at ease.
SB: If you could travel back in time and have a 15 minute conversation with your younger self, which mistakes would you warn her to avoid. Describe the conversation.
HB: Wow, that would be interesting…where do I start? 🙂 I do believe however that sometimes the journey of life teaches you so many more lessons than words of advice. So even if I could advise my younger self, I don’t know how much I would’ve understood because I needed to go through the journey. And I’m sure I’ll probably laugh at this interview 10 years from now. But one thing I know for sure is that when you’re young, you think you know everything and can do anything. In reality, it’s Allah swt who is in control. So we should work hard but pray harder. We should put less trust in ourselves and more trust in Allah swt.
SB: Do you agree with those who say women should have their own source of income to spend their money as they please?
HB: One thing to remember when you have your own business is that you probably won’t be earning an “income” for a while. You usually keep putting profits back in the business to help it grow. But I suppose having financial freedom can be empowering or reassuring to women. And to keep harmony in the home, I wouldn’t spend money on what I want that my husband wouldn’t approve of. Islam allows women to earn an income but we need to be very careful not to allow it to become a rift in a relationship. Usually simple communication can go very far in preventing that.
SB: So what kind of woman does it take, in your opinion, to start and run a successful business?
HB: From my limited experience so far, patience, perseverance, resilience, a strong vision and belief that rizq and success come from Allah, are vital in starting a business. And if you’re a mother, be prepared for tons of interruptions. I probably had over 25 while trying to finish this interview 🙂
SB: Please give some advice to anyone reading who might be interested in starting their own business one day?
HB: Be clear on your intentions. Business is A LOT of work, so you must be determined to continue through the hardship and struggles. Also, always incorporate some aspect of Deen and/or community work with your business. Whether it’s the nature of your business itself, or if you make the intention to hire people in need, or allocate a certain amount of your profits to charitable donation, always keep that aspect a part of your business. This way, your business becomes more than just about yourself. It’s a lot more fulfilling and I pray He swt accepts and puts more barakah in it.
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