I grew up in Marrakesh, Morocco. Where I come from, men are the face of business. Women play a supporting role. The men run almost all aspects of the business. They work at the markets while the women work from home.
I was fortunate to have a father who supported my entrepreneurial dreams. He knew I wanted to own my own business, to assert my independence. And he encouraged me to break out of the mold.
My father is a business owner; he sells rugs, bags, antique wood furniture...etc at the local bazaar in Marrakesh. He has been the ONLY SUCCESSFUL ENTREPRENEUR in my family. He supports his brothers, sisters and children with the income he makes at the market.
My father is my ROLE MODEL. He is the HARDEST worker I know.
My father has taught me so much about life and entrepreneurship. He’s taught me that the most meaningful part of being an entrepreneur are the relationships you build with your customers and community. Being an entrepreneur is always a new and exciting experience because of all the people you meet along the way. When I think of all the relationships I have built in my life, the one I have with my father is most important to me. He calls me every night before he goes to bed.
With my father’s support and sponsorship, I moved to the U.S. in April 2009 to experience a new life and get an education. I am currently an accounting major at LaGuardia Community College.
I still feel connected to my Moroccan heritage and wanted to express it through my love of designing and making my handcrafted bags. That’s why I decided to start my own leather-making business. To afford the costs in the beginning, I took out a tuition loan with SallieMae and invested any extra money in the tools and materials to start making leather goods. I began by making pieces for my friends to celebrate their birthdays, gradations and holidays.
My brother comes to visit me a few times a year. During his most recent visit, I gave him my bags to sell at the flea market in Williamsburg and at Chelsea Market. EVERY SINGLE ONE SOLD. That’s when I realized I had something SPECIAL. I wanted to grow in a bigger way. My next step was to set up my Etsy store.