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Starting a business is a riveting roller coaster of emotions: Shifa Jalal as a Student Entrepreneur

Shifa Jalal, a student of Culinary Science at iLEAD started her own fashion brand. Sapphire by Shifa is a buzzing brand on Instagram now. She started off her journey as an entrepreneur in 2021 during the second wave of the pandemic.

Here’s her story about how she managed to execute her ideas into a successful business.

  1. What prompted you to start a business?

 Medical and Financial difficulties during my teenage, motivated me to make up for the lost time and progress. My interest and hobbies helped me align my ideas into something formidable which also helped me become financially self-dependent. The will to test my potential and explore my capabilities in serving people with customized products is what motivated me to set up this small venture of mine, from scratch. To be honest, this idea was a result of a very quick conclusion, but I hope to use this venture as a means to serve hundreds and eventually thousands.

2 What is your business about? Who are your target customers?

It’s a simple e-commerce start-up offering customized products going by the name of “Sapphire By Shifa”. My motto “Modest & Powerful” in itself is a peek into the kind of style statement that is being offered. Modest fashion is gaining momentum in today’s time, driven by social media footprint and other non-traditional channels. These previously “less cool” wardrobe styles are now en vogue and modest clothing is both a style statement and a lifestyle. Coming to the second part of the question, I feel fashion houses need to research and understand the target audience. Our thought process presently is to cater to the needs of women of all ages who are fascinated by modest clothing. Every consumer has a unique aesthetic sense, hence designs should be able to cater to their individuality. Modest fashion advocates the desire to dress up for not only religious but also social gatherings.

3. When did you start this business?

I started this business in September 2021 during the second wave of the pandemic, when our lives had taken an inevitable break. This change in my monotonous lifestyle, helped me open up to utilizing my free time. Which in turn helped me discover this idea hidden somewhere in my head. I had always planned to work on it after my graduation, but what happens, happens for the best.

4. Any mentionable achievements in your business till date?

It’s still early days so I cannot really list down any achievements as of now, but something worth mentioning in this small journey is when I received bulk orders for the first time was like getting spammed, and also not to forget the feeling of getting orders from some renowned makeup artist of Kolkata, who themselves are approached by others to promote businesses.

5. How does your present studies/course/college help in your business?

My business is poles apart from my studies (culinary science). This interest of mine for styling clothes is a home-grown one as I used to always design clothes for families & friends. I know you are thinking why Culinary science then? Why not Fashion designing? Well despite this business interest of mine, I never thought of pursuing any fashion design course as I had a greater interest in Food. But my college has helped me a lot in gaining the confidence to interact with people and speak publicly. Special mention to all those soft skills and personality development classes this college provided me with, which groomed the hidden entrepreneur in me.

6. How do you manage studies and business?

It was relatively easier back than when I started during the pandemic. Thereafter, with offline classes, practical assignments etcetera coming into play, things have become very difficult to manage. But as we say, no success comes easy. I try to balance both my professional and personal life at the same time. I have a fixed routine every week so I work and study accordingly.

7. Anything else that you would like to say related to your entrepreneurial experience?

Starting a business is a riveting roller coaster of emotions with tremendous highs and, at times difficult lows, but one thing that always helps me through the ups and downs is to connect with some of my strengths gained from the past. The truth is, business grows from just one tiny seed and there’s no “magic pill” in the world of entrepreneurship. For me, my path to starting a business seemed to me, a natural evolution. After the initial fear and hurdles, the learning curve is so great I came very close to failure. Instead of giving up, I started to develop a deep sense of passion for motivating and educating myself to reach greater heights in business and income. “My desire to build, create, and learn, surpasses my fear. Every challenge I’m faced with now becomes a greater experience of learning my true potential.” My business has evolved significantly since then, but I’m so grateful for the way I started.

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