بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ
Being an entrepreneur is not easy. I find that there can never be too much inspiration and so I decided to start this series where I interview creatives from all over the world and share them on here In sha Allah. The aim is to inspire anyone and everyone in some little way in sha Allah. As its #FemmeMarch, I decided to start with women. So first off is Sis Rufena of Quote Lovin’
- Please introduce yourself and tell us a little about your background?
My name is Rufena and I am the owner of the online Etsy shop called ‘Quote Lovin’. Quote Lovin’ is where you will find inspirational Islamic themed gifts. When I am not doodling or editing away, I am actually a Primary school teacher and that is my main profession.
- Did you always want to be an entrepreneur? or what lead you to start your business?
The thought of being an entrepreneur has never really occurred to me and even now I do not think I am an entrepreneur. I think I am just a girl with a big passion for art and the love for Islam which inherently lead me to put the two together to offer my art to help others remember Allah (SWT).
- How did you settle your business name?
When I started, I wanted to offer Islamic versed printables from my Etsy shop and I was thinking long and hard for a suitable name – one which would be befitting for the items I was offering to my customers, and since it was ‘quotes’ from the Quran and how much I loved them, it seemed right for them to go together nicely ‘Quote Lovin’.
- What is the overall aim of your business and what need are you seeking to satisfy?
The concept of Quote Lovin was in hope to inspire Muslims to think and reflect on Islam.
Usually, when people refer to things that would remind them of the Deen of Islam, the Qur’an, tasbih or dua books are mentioned. However, I wanted to create something which could be placed anywhere and is not restricted. For example, you could have a print on your desk at work or home, or you could have a cushion on your sofa or a notebook for your children to use daily. I am trying to promote Islamic-themed products to help people remember Islam in their daily lives. The idea is that Islam is a complete way of life and sometimes, in modern times, we get sucked into the life of this dunya and its always beneficial to have something you can look at and think ‘oh I really like that quote from the Quran’ and it also reminds us of our Lord. So, in essence, Quote Lovin is here to help remind and touch the hearts of people all over the world using the glorious verses from the Quran and Hadiths.
- What were some of the challenges you faced when you started?
I jumped straight into opening my Etsy shop without fully knowing how to build a brand, how to make people aware of my business and overall how to keep the business going. I also did not know much about digital prints and how to digitize, so really, that was a big challenge learning how to use Photoshop all by myself from Youtube tutorials but Alhamdulillah, the more you motivate and push yourself, the more you will learn.
- What do you wish you knew before you started?
I wish I knew how to balance QL and family life in the right proportions. It’s absolutely essential to have a work-life balance and when I started, I was trying to develop my page, my products, and QL as a brand really fast that all my effort was just going to one place. It was a bad use of time management and over the years I have slowly learnt to divide family time and QL time.
- What is the most satisfying aspect of your business?
Alhamdulillah, being able to draw/paint and have that artwork on others’ wall, knowing that they chose my ‘art’ to help them remember Allah SWT! I also love it when customers and followers share their pictures of my work with me. Alhamdulillah. Another aspect is being able to interact with other sisters from around the world, especially sisters with businesses and in the same field.
- How does your faith affect the decisions you make in your business?
Islam governs every aspect of your life and this also includes how you do business. Islam demands that we are clear on what we are selling and for what price, so that the customers are fully aware of what they are going to be purchasing and this is what I make sure that I do right. Sometimes, you find out that certain things businesses do are not halal for Muslim businesses to do, for example, advertising products as ”Pre-order” is not allowed as the Prophet SAW said we cannot sell something that we do not have. So decisions like this apply to my business.
- What are some of the lessons you have learnt as an entrepreneur
I have learnt that you should take ‘yourself’ out of the picture and promote your business as a business or else you will get sucked in emotionally and mentally. I prefer to keep my personal life separate and private from the business side and Alhamdulillah this is working for me.
Another advice I would give is to try and be unique with your work so that it distinguishes you and your talent from the rest and you make a name for yourself that way.
- How do you balance all your roles as a woman?
In all honestly, balancing roles can be tough but I decided to place the business second to my family, so my everyday routines and tasks I would complete during the day and when everyone was asleep, I would work on the business side at night. This was never the routine when I started, I juggled family life, teaching life and business life is and I was overlapping them but when I scheduled business related work to night time, It all just fell into place properly and there was no regret about not spending time with my family. Alhamdulillah.
- A word of advice to an aspiring entrepreneur.
I would say try and take the leap of faith and open up to selling your work and see where that leads you. If you never try…you’ll never know. And if you do try…well at least you can say you did. You also have to realise that being consistent in posting on social media and having excellent customer service is a key aspect of growing a business. Nothing will come overnight but you have to work at it and see the fruits of your hard work later InshaAllah. I never thought QL would grow like this and I am ever so grateful to Allah for allowing this to all happen. I am still learning as I grow with my business but learning something new to make you better in your field is a blessing. So Alhamulillah.
There you have it, folks. You can follow Sis Rufena on Pinterest and Instagram.
Until Next time,