I always assumed that networking was for high flying professionals who just handed out business cards and drank Prosecco. But when I was kindly invited by Sister Hanifa, the amazing mind behind Sisters in Business to give a short talk, I was suddenly thrown into the world of networking.
All the way there on my way to London I had images of what I THOUGHT the day would hold but it was soo much more than I expected. May Allah swt continue to aid Sister Hanifa and make her businesses thrive, Ameen.
A GREAT RECEPTION
When I got to the venue, tired from the train and tube journey (I’m from Birmingham lol), I was delighted to find a nice drink of something fizzy and most importantly food. One thing you’ll find in the last trimester of pregnancy is that you;re constantly in a state of flux between chronic heartburn and sheer hunger!
Croissants, fresh fruit, water, juice and non- alcoholic wine, crisp, I was in pregnant lady heaven!
The smiles I got were big and genuine and sisters were already starting to mingle which was great.
I was one of three female speakers at this amazing female only event. The other two were Sister Rasheedah who is the creator and owner behind Noorah Gifts and Nazia Nasreen, the founder of the UK’s leading online Islamic toy store Ibraheem Toy House. I must say, I was a little intimidated when I found out who the speakers were. They both already had fully fledged, money making businesses so the self doubt for me slowly creeped in. But when they both started to speak, I discovered we all had one thing in common. We ALL had that little bit of self doubt in ourselves despite being in a room of loving supportive listeners. By the time Sister Hanifa was finished with us, as she told us from the beginning, there was no room for being shy!
Sister Nazia spoke first about how to practically create a work/ life balance and tips on how she personally created her own. Sister Rasheedah chose to share her own very personal journey about Islam and business and I must say, it brought tears to my eyes. Masha Allah she’s such a humble loving sister I just wanted to hug her and thank her for sharing her gift with the world.
Then there was my talk. I spoke about how to have an optimistic outlook on your business and life. Being a life coach, this was a topic that was close to my heart. We all experience ups and downs so I really wanted to give good practical advice on how I deal with the pressures myself.
NETWORKING WITH LOVELY LADIES
I met SUCH amazing ladies at the event. The sheer determination they had to get their businesses off the ground was profound. I was truly inspired by how all of us had taken the same inspirational lady, Khadija (ra) and used that as a catalyst to launch ourselves into the world of business.
Here are just SOME of the gems that I found there on the day:
Imaan & Co – a young sister making waves by creating ethically sourced prayer beads whilst donating 10% proceeds to charity. And she’s from Birmingham like me!
Anafiya Gifts – a revert sister, like myself, who was inspired to start her business to give her kids the same excite for Eid that she had for Christmas as a child
Saraiya Bah – a spoken word artist that will blow your mind!
Saffiya Styles – this sisters abayas are STUNNING. She’s already making waves amongst the modest fashion community and she incorporates African fabrics as well on request
Modest Curve – two sisters determined to bring confidence to women who have curves and still want to dress modestly
Body Bare – a soulful sister who started making her own organic, vegan body butters for her children and turned it into a money maker
Aisha Davies Cupping Therapy – based in London with years of experience Aisha provides hijama for sisters and is currently undertaking a personal training certification as well.
Lila and Tiny – if you’re looking for Islamic themed bedding for your little one, check this sister out
24Thirty1 – bringing corporate and modest into the same arena. I spoke to her before the event on Instagram and couldn’t wait to meet her
Activities on the Day
Unlike your average networking event where you stand around feeling awkward trying to pick out people, Sisters in Business was a breath of fresh air.
The first activity we did was to put one of our shoes in the middle of the room and pick a different shoe. Find the sister that owns the shoe and CONNECT. I picked a lovely brown boot and found Sister Aisha, an experienced Hijama Therapist based in London. I was inspired by her personal story and how strong and determined she was. We ended up having a three way conversation with a sister called Maryam who is launching her online business Lila + Tiny.
The second activity was for the sisters to split into groups, those who already have a business and those looking to launch. For those that already had businesses, they had to critique their businesses in their groups. For those that didn’t have a business they had to create one on the spot. I had the pleasure of being a judge along with Sister Rasheedah.
This is where the “Khadija-ness” really came to the forefront. The winning business idea was a group of sisters who created a product line called Nature’s Baby. An organic spray oil for mothers to use when changing their babies nappies. Even though it wasn’t a real product, everyone in the room unanimously said they would buy the product TOMORROW if it was on the market. So if you see it on the market, know that I had a little hand in that business venture!
The winners received a personalised Sisters in Business mug, for all those late night coffees.
The last activity was for every sister with a business to do an elevator pitch. 60 seconds, no more, no less to tell us exactly what your business is about. No one came prepared for this one but subhanAllah you’d never know from the pitches. After pitching, we all had to follow the sister on Instagram to give her business a boost.
It was a great idea having these activities to break up the day and it really added value to the whole experience.
There’s soo much I could share with you about what I learnt that day. And there’s another article to come with my points that I shared in my speech. But I though’t I’d choose my top five and share them with you here.
- There’s no such thing as a perfect mom. Mom guilt should not be a reason you give up on your business
- Always believe in the power of Allah swt and take lessons from every hardship
- Find the work/ life balance that works for you
- Make a time table you can stick to
- Learn to make time for yourself and rejuvenate your spiritual side
Would I Do it Again?
YES! I’ve always gotten a rush from public speaking and this time was no different. The feeling was intimate, open, fresh and empowering.
I would encourage all of you, whether you have a business already or you’re thinking of starting one to attend the next Sisters in Business Networking Event. It’s the ultimate experience for the entrepreneurial Muslimah.
Also, as a thank you, all the guests received boxes from the sponsor of the event Regalo Box. Every box contained a pen from SHO Marketing, a hair scrunchie, a moisturiser and a little handbag sized bottle of ZamZam water. I always have a soft spot for people who give me ZamZam water so jazakillahu khayrun for that Sister Hanifa.
What’s your experience of networking? Where are you in your new business venture? Comment below and let’s see if we can help each other out insha Allah.