Today we are featuring Shehazeen Siyad, Founder and designer at Zuleiha boutique, a well-known boutique of Panampally Nagar She is known to many, she has dressed celebrities like Manjima, Augustina wife of Aju varghese. Lets get to know Shehazeen in her own words!
How Shehazeen Siyad, a techie-turned-fashion-designer, started her own clothing line Zuleiha
Even though technology is what I got educated in, right from a very young age I was always intrigued by fabrics. Being above average in education never gave me options to explore my passions thanks to the traditional approach of most parents in our generation. A university rank in college further delayed an opportunity to explore what I really loved. It was indeed the free time available in a top MNC that gave me the push to follow something I loved.
Tell us about yourself and your lovely brand Zuleiha
Zuleiha and I are interconnected in more ways than one. Ever since the start, I have been very clear that my brand should reflect me. Of course, both the brand and I have evolved, but importantly we’ve evolved together.
Zuleiha the name is of my grandmother, she for me was a role model and in many ways a perfect human being.
Zuleiha Boutique Designer Shehazeen interview
Tell us about your journey? You are an engineer by profession. How easy or difficult it was to change your line of work?
Deciding to move away from technology to fashion industry was among the easiest things for me. Of course there were difficulties in the transition, I was never trained for fashion, nor did I have any capital to start with but I was clear that this is what I wanted. Slowly and gradually things fell into place and I am so glad that it did. It is one thing working for money, but Zuleiha gives both money and satisfaction!
How did you move from the idea to actually taking your first business steps?.
Zuleiha was always a dream for me and I for one don’t do things in half measure. I learned for myself the intricacies of stitching, and the best of sources for raw materials. Colors were something that came naturally to me. Equipped with these, and my limited capital I made 75 outfits differing from Kurtis to Semi-stitched party wears, anarkalis and sarees. I had booked the hall for two days but got sold out by afternoon on the first day itself. This experience overwhelmed me. I had doubled my capital and it gave me extreme confidence to venture out and start a store of my own.
Taking the first major step and setting up a store was no mean feet. Especially for a 24-year-old. I have to say I survived the first year, only due to my husband, who was my pillar of strength. He was not involved in the business but the emotional strength he gave pulled me through.
I would say the first year is the toughest for an entrepreneur. At least it was for me. From the second year, I had a little breathing space and things just started to happen on its own.
You have beautiful and unique designs for all your dresses. Where does the idea come and who is on your team
Like I’ve said, Zuleiha boutique is but an extension of me. I select the materials myself and most of the designs are impromptu based on the materials, the colours and the design, which I feel best embodies the above.
Conceptualization is of course only a part and I do have a wonderful team that has the same passion as I. Highly skilled professionals from different parts of the country form the back-end of Zuleiha. Ably assisted by my assistant we work seamlessly to ensure each product from Zuleiha is exactly as per the customer requirement.
Any advice for the entrepreneurs who wanted to start a business like you
I would just say to believe in yourself and when you know, you just know. And also sometimes, its important to remind yourself to see the larger picture and push yourself constantly.
What is a day in a life of you like? Who looks after the children when you are at work
I am a young mother of two 9month old babies. ShanayaFathima and Samar Ibrahim and in many ways my experience with Zuleiha has prepared me well for motherhood. The attention to detail, time management, and delegation are all skillsets required for both.
Of course it is very hectic and there is virtually no difference between a Sunday and a Monday. But the satisfaction derived is definitely worth every moment.
There does exist an eco-system of extreme support. My husband more than doubles up in my absence while both sets of grand parents also ensure that the babies are never away from family. I am also blessed to have a help, who used to look after me during childhood and now is looking after my kids,s o I don’t have the guilt of leaving them with someone totally new.
How do you manage time.How do you balance work and motherhood
Zuleiha is 4 years old now.During the first year,it was almost similar to taking care of a newborn.The personal effort, time, everything was triple the time need to invest compared to the scenario now. Not to mention the emotional strain. But now, Zuleiha can operate without me for over a time.Thanks to the in-built process and dedicated staffs. Motherhood came after 4 years of building Zuleiha.So I for one got lucky there! I can afford to take a few days off and be well assured that it’s running well.
Also most customer interaction takes place directly through social media (facebook, whatsapp). That too helps.
That said, I have been working every day since the babies past the 3-month stage. I think I’m a workaholic like that, and don’t like compromising on work. Sure, the time I spent working has reduced but the usage of time while at work has doubled.
I would be lying if I say it’s easy to balance. Some days, it takes a lot. But I know that my kids would rather have a successful and happy mom rather than a mom who compromised on herself. I work around 5-6 hours a day but when I’m home, I mostly keep my phone away and are completely theirs.
Suggest an idea or a trick that has made your parenting easier
The struggle is real!There’s no trick. I would say to be yourself but I have only 9 months of experience in parenthood and from what I know; I would say to go easy on yourself. As for me, being at work helps me to maintain the individual that I am. So may be the trick is to be just yourself and not to put the burden on the kids that they are responsible for your future!
It does help though when the husband understands that babies are a joint responsibility. I’m happy to admit that when it comes to parenting we share our responsibilities equally.
Who is your inspiration and what are your other hobbies
I can see a fabric and get excited. So there is no “who” to my inspiration. I get inspired fairly easily to anything related to clothes.
I am a serious shopper and can shop for myself and for others for days and not get tired. Love reading as well, though that doesn’t happen much now in between kids and work. Travel too is something that excites me.
You can connect with Shehazeen on Facebook – Zuleiha
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