Name and company : Muhayo Aliyeva, Founder of Bibi Hanum™ Women Artisan Group
Website : www.bibihanum.com
Where are you based? : Tashkent, Uzbekistan
NDA : Tell me a little bit about your business...
BH : Bibi Hanum is a socially responsible enterprise. We design and make garments and accessories using traditional hand-woven textiles from Uzbekistan. My mission is to support local women while preserving cultural heritage. I opened the workshop in 2006, with only couple of women, using the old garage attached to my mother's house. My older sister ran it till I took over when I finished an old job.
NDA : Where are your products available?
BH : They are available on our website and in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. We also regularly exhibit at trade shows in the U.S.
NDA : What is your biggest achievement so far?
BH : Introducing our work to a global market despite our being a small enterprise. Also, participating in the International Folk Art Market in Santa Fe with our revived traditional kaftans. I believe this is all due to our hard and creative work. These developments are wonderful, as we can support the women who work for us, as well as create more workspace for even more women.
NDA : What is the toughest decision you had to make in the past few months?
BH : This is a difficult question to answer. In business every decision is hard, I think finance and knowing where to spend money raises difficult decisions. It is like figure skating - you won’t learn it if you are afraid of falling. I have grown the company from the ground up, with very little investment to play with or experiment. Financially it is always tough, because you need to continuously invest what you earn in order to develop.
Also, knowing when to upscale at all levels brings difficult decisions. We recently moved to a new and more spacious location that needed a lot of construction work doing, redesigning etc.. Which, again, requires funding.
Personally, I think it isn’t easy to be a female entrepreneur, and I have come to understand that whatever decisions I make need to be made in unemotional state. I tend to leave important issues to steep and go back to them with a fresh outlook and generally the outcome will be different from my instinctive reaction.
In addition, time allocation is difficult. Our enterprise comprises entirely of women, we all have families and this means we all have twice the responsibilities. We can’t afford to stay late and finish up the work, because we need to make sure that our families are well taken care of.
NDA : What’s the best piece of advice you have been given?
BH : My father-in-law always says that “life is like a mirror, whatever we do that is what we get in life - good or bad. So better to choose good will. God rewards even smallest goods deed in multiple quantities”. Always to stay optimistic and keep a positive attitude, regardless of how hard the situation could be. Even if you fail there is a lesson to be learned in order to avoid future bigger mistakes.
NDA : Many people only contemplate setting up their own business, what advice would you give to spark the catalyst?
BH : That is true, many people contemplate but very few actually have the courage to get up and do it. My advice is to forget about the money, think about the work, love what you are doing and do good to people. The money will follow by itself.
Also make sure you do sport and eat well. If you are fit, you are happy and energetic, you can do anything.
NDA : Do you have any favourite tips and tricks to stay healthy and happy everyday?
BH : Just put your sports kit on or put your yoga mat out!! Fight the laziness, it is easier than you think. Once you have done that the rest will come by itself. And it doesn’t take much time. Only one hour or 40 minutes and you are happy.
NDA : Do you consider yourself a ‘healthy eater’ and are there habits you wish you could kick?
BH : I do try not to eat too much. I love fruits and vegetables and stay away from sugar and bread as much as possible. Thankfully I am able to avoid drinking and smoking.
NDA : Lastly, how lucky are you, and why?
BH : With God’s will, I consider myself very lucky. I have reached all of my childhood dreams, married a good person whose character perfectly matches mine. I have two wonderful children. I have worked in a few dream jobs and I love the work I am doing. All this makes me very grateful. I pray to God to reach the future goals that I have set.