As the Season 2 debut of the Sincerely Chosen show closes in on our calendars, we’ve reached our final highlight of selected season one sponsors. Throughout the past week, I’ve shared the stories of some of the awesome sponsors who helped to make our first season a great one. I truly hope you taken something valuable from each of them and have been inspired to consider supporting and patronizing their businesses.
Say hello to Aisha Al-Muid of Miss Mahogany Boutique, a contemporary fashion brand established in 2014 that specializes in accessories. Aisha and James R. Sanders (Celebrity stylist, fashion journalist and creator of #StyledByJames) styled some of my most memorable and fashionable looks of the season.
A very special thank you to the both of them for kicking my personal style up a notch!
Sincerely Syreeta: Who are you? Tell the SS readers a little about yourself.
Aisha Al-Muid: I grew up in West Philadelphia and was educated in the School District of Philadelphia. As a youngster I took an interest in high fashion magazines (Vogue, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, Essence) and always wanted to see what NYC was like since there was a fashion industry there. [I] moved to NYC at 19 and got my first job at French Connection, a chic boutique on the Upper West Side of NYC, and then moved on to Madison Ave and Barney’s New York. I also had an opportunity to intern at Essence magazine in 1999. Today I am back in Philadelphia and retired from a career in Education after 6 years at the Russell Byers Charter School (in Philadelphia) where I developed a profit generating before and after-School program, “Carpe Diem,” from scratch. After 20 months, the program was in the black $70,000 under my leadership.
SS: Well you’re certainly a woman who’s not afraid to work hard and climb higher. How and why was your business conceived? What inspired you to take the risk of starting it?
AAM: The decision to step out on faith and start Miss Mahogany came from a place of feeling unhappy with my career. I did enjoy working with children and families and providing a great service for them, however, I felt like I was not getting all of my needs met. I kept thinking there had to be another way to be of service to people and to [also] do something that I really enjoyed. I needed to feel empowered and wanted to do something that would impact my community.
SS: Overall what has the journey been like thus far as a business owner/entrepreneur?
AAM: The journey has been a roller coaster ride. There have been up’s and downs, and challenges that have pushed me to grow as an individual and as a company.
SS: Entrepreneurship is most definitely a roller coaster ride. Speaking of challenges, what is one particular challenge that you have faced and how have/did you work to overcome it?
AAM: During the winter of 2015 the weather [was] so cold and my business relies mainly on foot traffic. People were not out shopping and I had to figure out how to get people in my store. I decided to host young entrepreneurs who had products, with a pop-up shop for the day as a special event and that would get people out as well as help another entrepreneur.
SS: Challenges will force you to either fold or get creative. Your creativity clearly kicked in and benefited others in the process! So what does success mean to you and what are some signs (i.e. highlights/examples) that your business is on the road to success?
AAM: My definition of success is being happy and at peace with myself; having the freedom to be creative; [and] having prosperity in all areas of my life (spiritually, physically, and financially).
SS: How has your vision and plan for the business success changed or evolved since its inception?
AAM: My vision has grown and my business plan has evolved into a life of its own. I started out with [one] direction and decided to go in another in terms of target market. My business has been partnering with other businesses and entrepreneurs so that’s been great.
SS: How has your journey as a business owner/entrepreneur shaped you as a person?
AAM: I have become wiser and more aware about my time and my intentions. I have become more grateful and patient.
SS: All of which are important qualities. In your opinion, what is it like to be business owner/entrepreneur in Philadelphia? Would you recommend it to others in your industry who are considering starting a business here or relocating/expanding their business here?
AAM: It’s been challenging however, I have had some support. Philadelphia has a commerce department and they have grants to assist small business with various things like store front improvement, signs, video cameras–this does help and I was grateful to receive the support. I think Philadelphia has a lot of opportunity and yes, I do recommend that [they] expand their business here.
SS: Why did you decide to come one board as a sponsor for #SincerelyChosen?
AAM: When I attended the first show I was moved by the passion that came across from [you]. I thought: wow this
woman is innovative. I thought that the Sincerely Chosen show was awesome and a great way to connect to the community and be a platform for many in our city who go unnoticed for the great work that they are doing. It was inspirational and motivating. The energy was so great, I thought, “How can I be a part of this?” Since my business is fashion and I understand how important appearance is in media I thought I could help by taking that responsibility of what [you] should wear and by coming in to help in that area.
SS: Well first thank you for your initial support and help you did! What’s your key to “Sincerely Lovin’” life? (A motto or mantra that you live by.)
AAM: Do what makes you happy!
SS: Amen to that! Haha! And finally, what’s up next and how can we support you?
AAM: You can support us by coming to visit our boutique and providing us with feedback so that we can deliver the best customer service and best products!
If you would like to support Sincerely Chosen and its mission for the 2016 season via sponsorship, email: SincerelyChosenLive@gmail.com.
– Sincerely Syreeta