Written by: Khadija Jafferjee
As a child I grew up watching my grandfather running his own business. I would notice his passion, discipline and his love for what he does. Being a small kid it didn’t really mean much but it always stuck with me. He would always tell me ‘Don’t ever work for anyone, build your own business.’ As time went by, pretty much every single person in my family, whether it was my mum, my sisters or my cousins, all had their own businesses and it would be a delight watching them so excited about the tiniest things. Our dinners would entail discussions about how to grow the business which ended up being a learning experience for me.
Inspired by my family, I started a small business in India called Alwajd with a team of 3 more people. It was fun and it let my creative juices flow. Alwajd started off as a brand that made unique and custom designed mobile cases and then eventually moved to designing and printing fabrics which about 2-3 years ago wasn’t too common. We knew there was a good demand for custom fabrics and at the same time extremely fun and challenging as a business too. It took a long time to start the fabric line since there was a lot of research and trials that needed to be done, but eventually we found the sweet spot and started manufacturing our fabrics and the appreciation we received in return made it all worth it. As with business, life too brings change and new paths. A year later, I got married and moved to Sri Lanka. As excited as I was about this new chapter of my life, my first thought was, ‘what am I going to do there?’ Moving to Sri Lanka meant I had to move my focus away from Alwajd and look for new opportunities.
As hard as it was to let go of Alwajd, I knew I had to start something new, something I would love doing. I would go online, look for ideas and one fine day I just thought of candles. It was a rather random thought because I knew absolutely nothing about how to make candles, what goes into them, nothing. I just knew I loved candles and I didn’t get the kind I wanted here at a sensible price. Without wasting much time I immediately sought counsel from His Holiness and started researching, learning through YouTube and after loads of trials and errors, ended up with a candle I was extremely happy with. I decided to make an Instagram page and post a picture of the candle. I was very nervous and remember thinking that I wouldn’t make a single sale. The next day I had about 3 orders and I was over the moon. The excitement I had packing that first order hasn’t changed one bit. I still get so happy when my phone buzzes and I see a message from someone wanting to place an order, I say ‘yay’ in my head every single time.
Through my one year journey, I learnt how important it is to maintain the quality of the product. Every single time I launched something new, I’d ask myself if I’d ever buy it, if the answer was yes, I would go ahead and launch it. Having repeat customers was the biggest compliment I could get because it meant I was doing something right and that is what’s kept me going. I knew I had to give my customers something to look forward to so I started launching new scents every month and now I’m thankful to have a decent list of options for them to choose from.
I can’t stress enough how empowering it is to run your own business, whether it’s small or big, it really doesn’t matter but the thrill of doing something of your own is worth all the hard work you put into building the business. As scary as it may seem, being your own boss allows you to explore so many options and take quite a few risks. Even if just one person appreciates your work, it is an immense confidence booster which in my opinion is what helps the business grow. Like any other business, I’ve had good days, bad days and really bad days too, but believing in myself has kept me going and it really does wonders.
Today I’m a mum of an 18-month old and a proud owner of a small business that I absolutely love. It’s definitely not as easy and as glamorous as it may sound, but I wouldn’t change a thing because at the end of the day, the satisfaction I get out of making even one small candle is worth it all.