With a passion to empower women entrepreneurs and nurture sisterhood, Aida Azlin sets out to inspire many through her multiple talents and skills. She successfully runs The Shawl Label, an ethical women’s fashion brand based in Morocco. But it doesn’t stop there, with her team, she also leads Woman Up, an inspiring podcast for women. Her candid and honest blog, Love Letters, brings insight and perspective to everyday life. Lastly, she runs online classes to share her skills with other like-minded sisters. And, here’s a glimpse into Aida’s creative world…
- Tell us about yourself (name, location, affiliations, your story)!
I’m Aida and I’m originally from Singapore, but I’ve been calling Tangier, Morocco as my home for the past 3 years. I run The Shawl Label full time while curiously immersing myself with learning, reading and writing about things I am strongly passionate about: my Deen, the concept of Self-Betterment, Entrepreneurship, & the importance of Sisterhood. Although my small team and I pride ourselves on creating ethical, meaningful, beautiful shawls and apparels in our studio here in Morocco, but my main priority will always (and forever) be to serve Sisters the world over by equipping and empowering them with the tools and the support that they need to pursue self-betterment, In Sha Allah.
- What inspired you to enter the field you work in?
The simple reason is this: I have never cared, connected, laughed, cried and felt these million and one feelings as much as I have now. I do what I do at TSL, because it makes me,. human.
- How does your faith influence your work?
My faith doesn’t just influence my work, but my whole life. Everything that I do, I strive to keep my Deen at the centre of it all. My biggest fear is doing work that is devoid of Ikhlas (sincerity) and the only way I can stay true to my purpose and to not be swayed by fleeting distractions is to remind myself that He is the reason I am able to wake up every day and do my work here at TSL. Everything should be for Him. As a Muslim, it is incumbent upon us to do and give our best, to honour our words, to practice kindness and compassion throughout all of our dealings. And these principles that are so closely intertwined with our Deen has helped me navigate this crazy whirlwind of a ride that is Entrepreneurship.
- What was the best gift you ever received and why?
I’ve been blessed to receive some very beautiful gifts from loved ones but if I have to choose, and this is a rather difficult task, it will have to be this beautiful leather-bound Quran with a modern phrased interpretation in English by a very dear Sister who is actually a customer-turned-friend. Any gift that reminds me of Allah and His beautiful Deen is a beautiful one, and this one was much, much more special because it’s the Book of Allah and I would never have thought that I deserve such a thoughtful gift from a Customer, no less.
- What would you like to see on Muslim Gift Guide?
I think there’s already a comprehensive and wide variety of Gifts available already, Ma Sha Allah! But I would love to see more gifts that has a deeper or interesting story behind why it is being created. Also, anything that is hand-made and/or home-made is more likely to entice me than something produced in mass!
- What does it mean to be an entrepreneur?
When I first moved to Morocco, it transformed and brought change to how I see “entrepreneurship”. Having your own business is surprisingly, the norm here. Almost everyone I know have their own small cafe, garage, school, clothing store, bookstore and many more! I personally know women who are their own bosses, providing tailoring and embroidery services from home, or have their own little “babysitting” companies. It was, inspiring. They taught me that you do not need a huge amount of capital, that you do not even need Facebook or a Website to create noise about what you are doing. That all you need is the intention to begin, lots of hard work, a bit of courage and a whole lot of gratitude, perseverance and patience.
In the beginning, when I started to put myself out there, slowly laying out the building blocks for TSL, I tried to avoid calling myself an entrepreneur. I felt somewhat undeserving of that title. But when I see my husband, my father in law (who is one awesome entrepreneur), and the Moroccan people going out there, proudly doing their own work, I sit up a little and told myself that I am capable of making change, of serving people and providing value to the world.
I told myself that I am worthy of being an entrepreneur. And that I am one. And I do what I do because I know that my purpose in this world is to serve, help and build a support-system for women through my work at TSL and I will do it every day for the rest of my life even if it is tough, bone-breaking, and full of obstacles.
Because being an entrepreneur is about giving. It is about asking “What can I give you” instead of “What can I get from you?”. It is about being present and showing up, even if the day/week/month has been excruciatingly tough. It is about pivoting yourself, and constantly finding ways to be a better person. Being an entrepreneur, for me, also means to constantly seek knowledge, to collaborate, to ask questions, to ask for help. To be vulnerable.
Entrepreneurship is humbling. You think you are helping people, but really, it’s the people that are helping you. They are your driving force, they are your motivation. Entrepreneurship teaches me that kindness really does go a long way, it teaches me that everyone has a voice and everyone deserves to be heard. It teaches me that every single one of us matter. It teaches me that sincerity is King; that people are smart and discerning and if I am not sincere about my craft, my brand, my products, my customers, then no one will care.
That all we need is the intention to begin, lots of hustle & hard work, a bit of courage and a whole lot of sincerity, gratitude and patience.
- How do you balance your creative business with personal life?
I am fiercely protective of my time. If we all manage our time like we manage our health and our wealth, we can get a lot of things done without compromising other aspects of our lives.
- Where can you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years?
Hopefully, better and wiser and more graceful than I am now. But most importantly, I pray that I will still be striving on His path, and more inspired and roaring to serve Sisters more than ever. In Sha Allah!
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Photo Credit: Aida Azlin