Welcome to yet another edition of The Times Of Amma Mompreneur series where we talk to mothers who have transformed their passions into money-making ventures. From online jewellery stores, to handmade craft collectibles to potential actualizing workshops and much more. We hope that their accounts of the highs and lows of their entrepreneurial journey will inspire other mothers to hold on to their dreams and follow them through.
Today we speak to Faiza, the entrepreneur behind Earth and Ethics - a home based firm that works in bringing you closer to nature and with the artisans and weavers of India. You can learn more about and follow Earth and Ethics here and here.
From an MBA in Finance and Marketing to a firm focused on creating a and sustaining a toxic-free world. As a little girl had you ever imagined that you would be working in fields as diverse as these? What did you want to be when you grew up?
I am trying hard to remember what I wanted to be when I was growing up. As far as I could remember, I wanted to study business and work and that was all I had in my mind. However, that didn't come very easily for me since I belong to the first generation of women who stepped into college in my family. I used to be that ambitious and determined girl who always wanted to stand out from the crowd. I pursued by MBA with the dream of getting into the corporate world. It all appeared fancy and nice. Remember that scene in the movie Pursuit of Happiness when Will Smith sees the happy crowd at the Wall Street and gets inspired ? I was like that. But I soon realized that is not the world where I am going to live my life and I stepped out. I think I made a wise decision.
What inspired you to create Earth and Ethics?
I love nature so much and used to enjoy every little thing that God has created which is absolute and perfect. When I was in school, I read a very interesting series written by late Dr. Nammazhvar in a Tamil magazine called Ananda Vikatan and was deeply inspired about our environment and organic farming. After becoming a mother, I started paying attention to the food and cosmetics that we consume as a family. Living in this part of the world (UAE), I found it very hard to develop an eating habit that is free of nasties and find cosmetics that are at least free from carcinogens. As I was progressing in this journey, I realized that food and cosmetics were just the beginning and started paying attention to many things in our home. I understood how our homes are filled with toxins and the impact that it leaves on our health and that of our environment's. With a strong urge to do something post motherhood and the opportunity that I saw which would make a meaningful impact on the lives of the consumers as well as the makers, I started this humble venture of Earth & Ethics.
Have things gone according to your business plan?
Yes and no. There are many things I learned only after starting the business and I am glad that I learned through my mistakes. Initially I started with Organic cotton towels that were listed in a premium online retailer. It is so strange thinking how I even stepped into that without even knowing how listing on an ecommerce site would work for a micro/small business like mine. It costed me a lot of investment in both the product and the transportation. I came out of the web of large quantities and retailer's margins and started focusing on keeping it small. I buy directly from the makers in small quantities, to try them out for myself and sell them to my close circle, who have been supporting me from day one. If it goes well, I keep more stock of it and even if it doesn't, I would at least be glad that I left a small, but a meaningful impact on the makers lives.
What were the challenges you faced in setting up the business?
Finding the right suppliers was one of the biggest challenges that I first faced. I know what I wanted but I didn't know where to start. I am very particular about the quality of the products I sell on Earth and Ethics and I believe in developing a strong relationship with the makers and merchants. I slowly began finding them and establishing a good relationship with them, all thanks and praise to the Almighty. The next challenge is the transportation as the products like cast iron are very heavy and quilts occupy a lot of space. I am slowly finding a way out.
Who was your biggest support while transforming your passion into a business?
My family. My parents and my brother were always pushing me to do something, to pursue my career and not confine myself within the four walls. My husband has been a big pillar of support, Alhamdhulillah (all praise and thanks to the Almighty). From endless trips to pick up the consignments to taking care of the kids while I am at the market day, he has been very kind and supportive and helped me achieve whatever I have today, by the will of God.
Tell us more about your team and processes.
Currently it is a one woman army and there is no team as such. I am just the face of a huge body of works that are undertaken by the artisans and weavers of India. I believe in simplicity and Earth & Ethics reflects that. We have essential products for the home- under the Kitchen, Home Linen and Bath categories that meets these criteria:
It is a result of the wonders the hands can make-so the products are handmade, hand seasoned, hand block printed, hand woven in a hand loom, hand carved, etc
It is ethically made, empowering the makers
It is sustainable and earth conscious
The products are offered as the best, natural replacements for the toxic household items that are used so widely. Consider the teflon coated pans which emit toxic fumes when heated up and the microfiber filled comforters that make us sick and pollute our seas. We offer traditional cookware like hand seasoned cast iron, which would replace the chemical coated cookware. Likewise our super-soft pure cotton Jaipuri quilts replace the synthetic home linen that we use regularly.
What has been the highest point/happiest moment in your entrepreneurship journey so far?
I don't remember having a highest point in my journey so far. It is filled with small moments of joy and happiness and a satisfaction that I doing something which is ethical and meaningful. I started valuing small things in life that are beautiful and that little dose of happiness and calmness is very precious to me
Could you give us a glimpse of your typical working day?
I start with my cup of tea and begin working after my kids go to school. There is no particular order, but I keep myself active on the social media the most when my kids are not around me. My days are filled with updating about the products in social media accounts, taking pictures, dispatching orders. Then on some days I discover new products and meet new artisans which is the most exciting part of the whole story.
Would you say that being a mom is advantageous or disadvantageous as far as starting a business is concerned?
Definitely advantageous. I think the mommy brain trains us to become experts in fields which we wouldn't even have thought about earlier. It was because I was concerned of my children's wellbeing that pushed me to pursue my passion.
Most mothers are expert multi-taskers. As a business woman and expat mother of two when is the most you have had to multi-task?
All goes well until the routine is broken. Imagine a sick child or guests at home. That would be the most demanding time and have to do many things at the same time. Honestly that would be a very difficult time for me, managing many things at a time. Somehow I think I am not very good at multi tasking and I feel drained out at the end of the day.
What is the one piece of advice that you wish you had received while setting up your venture?
Don't fall for things that are appear ambitious and fancy. I was thinking being associated with big names would make things better but it was not the case. A small business thrives well on it's own than being associated with a big fish.
What is next for you?
I've been working on the website for a very long time. I hope it gets done soon, in sha Allah. I am also contemplating on Ethical Clothing for women and children and promote Slow Fashion.
What has your favourite piece of client feedback been so far?
I have been blessed with a beautiful circle of people who have been supporting me since the day one. Every word of encouragement and repeat orders is a big milestone for me and the best feedback was when a client from Saudi sent me a very emotional message. She had ordered the products through her sister who was visiting Dubai and I just gifted her a couple of very tiny, handmade soaps. She messaged me saying it moved her so much and that she recently lost a child and she felt so good for that small token of love. That is a very precious feedback and I am so thankful for that.
Thank you Faiza for wanting to be the change and leading the way on the path to sustainable living. You are an inspiration and we wish you and Earth and Ethics, all the very best.
If you are an Inspiring Mompreneur or you know someone who fits the bill, get in touch with us here or on Facebook.
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