- Why did you join EWI’s Entrepreneur Training for Success(ETS) program?
“I had recently become Coordinator of a MD-based group called Muslim Women in the Arts in January 2011, and it was the first time I found myself in an Arts Administration position. Marga was led to me through a mutual friend, and after a conversation and interview with her, I was convinced that the ETS program was the perfect place for me to gain and refine the skills I needed to successfully lead a non-profit arts group. “
- How has your business grown/changed since graduating from ETS?
“Well, first of all, in the time that I was enrolled in the ETS program, I had a major shift of focus from wanting to start a non-profit arts group, to building my own professional career as an independent artist. I started making jewelry and other hand-made items featuring parts of my paintings for the first time in my life, and the initial success of sales was extremely encouraging. Towards the end of the ETS program, I had already started setting up and selling items at my “NJARTitecture” art booths at various venues and events. Since graduating the program, I have been extremely prolific in production, sales and marketing. I’ve had a steady calendar of events mixing my interests of the business side of the arts, with the spreading and education of the necessity for the arts. My fan base has widened from continued social marketing on the web, and from attending countless events all over the East Coast and in Canada. Just recently, I was able to take a hiatus from accessory production to focus uninterrupted time on producing paintings for my first solo show in Washington, D.C. last month.”
- Can you share any of your favorite moments from your time in training?
“One of my favorite moments from the ETS course was a class where we broke up into small groups of four students, and one mentor. Each student was given the opportunity to present what they felt was their main challenge or hindrance in their personal pursuits, and as a group, we offered solutions or tools for that student to reach their own solution. That exercise was extremely enlightening for me because prior to that, I don’t think I realized just how overlapping our struggles were, despite the fact that one of us was an artist, a fashion designer, a cook and a house cleaner. It was incredible to have been reminded of the benefit of learning from your classmates, no matter how different they were from you.”
- What was the most valuable lesson?
“To follow your gut. In listening to the stories of how other women were led to the ETS program, and in my personal struggles and meetings with mentors at EWI, I was reminded time and time again — follow your intuition — you already know what’s best for you, you already know what you have to do, stop holding yourself back and don’t be afraid to turn your passion into a daily reality!”
- What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs like yourself who are interested in taking their business to the next level?
“Every time you come up with a reason to talk yourself out of doing something you really love, tell yourself three more reasons for why you should do it, and remind yourself of those three things over and over in your moments of doubt.
Every honest, sincere thing you do will take an amount of risk, and faith — you have to be your biggest believer. Don’t worry about how others will respond or if they’ll like what you’re selling — an act done in harmony and love will be transparent all on its own, and those that are their to support you will somehow find their way to you.
“Even if you feel downtrodden by financial woes or wavering motivation, never stop creating, designing or producing — everything is a potential muse, and what better way to channel energy than to use it constructively and positively in developing the thing(s) you love.”
“Humble yourself. Meet the people you need to meet, speak what you need to speak, reward yourself for your accomplishments, but get up the next morning and get back in the grind. Don’t lose your sense of self. Be critical of yourself, constructively, and be kind to yourself. “
“Think big. Be your own mentor, but also confide in a mentor(s) more experienced than yourself. Let them be your cheerleaders. Don’t ever let money stifle how big your dream is. The money will come, and it is not the most important currency of life.”
“Work hard. Work hard. Work hard.”
- Where have you showcased since ETS? Any upcoming events?
“A few too many places to list, to be honest, but if interested, you can visit my “Art Shows” albums from 2011-2012 on my Facebook fan page “NJARTitecture” to see the variety of events that I’ve been present at. As I mentioned before, I recently had an opening night for my first ever solo show at BloomBars in Washington, D.C. in March, entitled “She Comes With A Past :: The Art of Healing.” A really exciting event that’s coming up for me is a showcase this month sponsored by a group called RAW Natural Born Artists (http://www.rawartists.org/washingtondc). Basically, this group helps emerging artists gain exposure by hosting a showcase that lasts 4-6 hours on a Thursday night of each month, and each showcase features 15-20 different artists. Other artists, gallery curators, directors, professionals, etc. are invited to help the featured artists network and meet potential customers or gain gallery representation. This also happens in twenty other cities all over the US, and interestingly, the February opening showcase in Washington, D.C. this year had a record-breaking 500 people attend — most people ever to attend the first show of the year in any city in the US, which is really exciting! “
“My showcase will be on April 12, from 8PM-12AM, at Cafe Asia in DC, and I’m going to be exhibiting new paintings, jewelry, and an exciting new product — phone and laptop cases featuring my art work! Tickets are only $10 pre-event, and you can purchase them here (http://www.rawartists.org/njartitecture). I would love to see some of the EWI women out there! :) It’s such a great place to meet other emerging artists in the area; please be sure to check out RAW DC’s main page — there are some really great musical performances and even a fashion runway show that’s going to happen at the event as well! “