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Mumpreneur profile: Yazmin of Lovedesh

10 October 2013 No Comment

Yasmin choudharyTell us about your family 

Single mother of a 12 year old lovely daughter.

What did you do before coming up with your business idea and how was it making the transition? 

Lovedesh™, a British design brand and my niche volunteer run charity Amcariza Foundation™, are my ideas to try and support some of the poorest folks from poorest nations, also commonly known as ‘Third World’. I want to stop us only seeing and hearing about all the bad stuff and get us to learn about all the good stuff that we miss out on.  To encourage people to travel responsibly out there.  Both these concepts introduce my idea of FABB™ (Find or Fund A Body or Business)- an idea to help those of us in UK or richer countries, to seed fund or support folks out in poor nations.  My first career was in Public Relations – I worked in consultancy and in-house. Then I left to pursue a career in acting, while my daughter was a baby.  I loved it but making a living from it full time was very hard. So I made the choice to start my own business. Why? I want to combine philanthropy, creativity and business, to not only make a new career for myself but along the way, to bootstrap poverty struck artisan folks through food, fashion and travel, especially young women or mothers in the poorest nations in the world.

 When did you launch? 

I am about to. Right now you can find my fashion project online at Kickstarter here.  It tells you more about why my social business idea needs funding.  As I do it all alone, it is unlikely I will meet my goal but it has gotten me attention from some great business experts who love what I am trying to do and want to help me.  Soon the fashion items will be available online but more importantly via third party boutiques. Also the Lovedesh™ Artisan Slow Wood Fired Curry is now here in the UK. , a new (yet ancient) cooking technique for us Brits who love our curries. Hailing from Bangladesh.  I plan to get this dish out onto the menus of country pubs and any venues interested. Soon, via Lovedesh Voyage™, I will create boutique trips to some of the most poorest nations in the world (e.g. Bangladesh, Ethiopia), where you stay in nice places and join a small group of fellow travellers to explore the world of, and meet with food, travel and design artisans in third world nations. Watch this space.

Atelier rangeHow did you get started? 

I was really inspired after the deaths of 1,217 garment workers in Bangladesh in May 2013. Originally though, my idea was borne after the death of my beloved father in 2004. This life event affected me deeply.  More about him can be found here.  You see, I had never helped him when he was alive with his charity projects in Bangladesh and despite his insistence, I always said no as I was a London based city career woman at the time. A great regret of mine but better late than never!

I run Lovedesh™ alone & Amcariza Foundation™ with the help of my best friend Nursel, also a working mum.  We have literally nobody to guide us.  I learnt the hard way, stumbling and making mistakes.  It has been frustrating and sad at times but made me more determined and knowledgeable.

What’s your favourite thing about running your own business?

The ability to set the agenda and do what I feel passionate about! I started Lovedesh™ after I found charities were not interested in me, as I was told I did not have relevant experience.  I am now learning to drive the business to also help accommodate my work life balance. To make money and volunteer for people who are dear to my heart.

What’s the thing you least enjoy about running your own business 

Being alone.  Finding the right partners takes time, patience and energy.  You need to kiss a lot of business frogs before you find your right prince/princess! So until then, it can be a very difficult experience as you have nobody to really use as a sounding board.  This is why finding business mentors (which I am in the process of getting), who are equally passionate about my cause, is a great way to combat this.  They want to see me succeed without compromising my philanthropic values.

What has worked well about your business? 

My creativity, evidence of risk I have taken by visiting Bangladesh alone for business and my passion seems to encourage people to assist me.  For example, while I do run it alone, a few experts and high profile people in their respective fields aer stepping forward to help me. They say, Lovedesh™ & Amcariza Foundation™ are new ideas,  new grass roots concepts, which combined with the love I have for artisans across the world, in the poorest nations, intrigues successful experts enough to give up their precious time to help me.

What’s been your biggest business mistake?  How did you deal with it? 

I found people and organisations especially in public sector or charities, who promised and should be helping me did not. Even some friends, who said they would come on board but then realised the effort involved and dropped out.  I spent time and energy and it became demoralising.  Also after the deaths of garment workers of Bangladesh, apparel brands I have contacted, show no interest.  I soon realised when you are unknown, opening doors is hard.   I am also learning how to be more discerning and astute. Also to get others more high profile, to help me.  I still make mistakes. When you bootstrap, you have little money, and do not have access to expertise that can help you avoid headaches – e.g. accountants or lawyers.  Plus, I used to get terribly upset when things did not happen the way I had planned it. I took it personally.  Now I realise, the only thing you can do is to be kind on yourself, learn and plan as much as you can and not to trust people too easily.

How do you fit in work with the family? Is your partner supportive of your business? 

I am lone parent so in some ways, I do not have to worry about anyone at present but my daughter. I don’t get any financial support for her, so it is tough.  She is happy because I am happy, even though it does get hard on her at times when I have to take that trip abroad.  I struggle with childcare as cannot afford an au pair or nanny. So I rely on wonderful friends. I help my daughter to understand that a role of a woman is not just being a partner and mother. First and foremost, it is about being comfortable in your own skin and finding your talent to do whatever it is in life that gives one deep, personal joy.  A life, where you are true to yourself.   Once you are happy in your own self, then those who love you, will see and understand and accommodate this. I think this is the core to contributing to an individual’s happiness and in turn, a family’s and a partner. Many women (and men) end up in unhappy relationships and unable to find someone who will take interest in, support and champion their dreams and goals outside of the usual bills, childcare and monotony! I know as I used to be one of them!

Are you working towards a financial goal for your business? 

Yes. I do want Lovedesh™ to be a profitable entity.  Not just for the company, so that we can share the profits amongst the artisans AND push the current boundaries of fair trade. As a lone parent I get it.  How you just need a break.  To really lift up and socially mobilise some of the most poverty stricken folks (especially mothers and young women) in the poorest countries across the world. They number hundreds of millions.  But I will start with a handful. Both Lovedesh™ and Amcariza Foundation™ is for them; a means of income and a voice for the folks out there. A chance for a new start.

Would you ever give up your business to do something else? 

Not at the moment.  I cannot think of doing anything else.  It is like an addiction and I cannot stop until I see its success.

Do you have an exit strategy?  

No. Lovedesh™ requires massive commitment. I drive it as am pretty much an expert on Bangladesh now.

Have you had your ‘I’ve made it’ moment?  Tell us about it.  If not when do you think it will come?  

Not yet.  But I hope this time next year Lovedesh™, will be showcased internationally through events during London Fashion Week.  By 2014 people will be people getting buzzed about food, travel and fashion from ‘Third World’ countries via eating the Lovedesh™ Artisan Slow Wood Fired curry and my fashion range such as Lovedesh Army™, where you wear a bracelet to promise to visit a Third World nation once in your lifetime.

Where do you hope to be in five years time?

As the founder of a globally recognised brand Lovedesh™ and of the charity Amcariza Foundation™, which has changed people’s lives, smashed stigma and puts me in a position to be listened to by world’s leaders. Only so I can say: “can you see what happens when you invest in people on the ground and create a marketplace for their goods amongst excited consumers who want to buy?”

If you have a flexible working business opportunity, please explain briefly what you offer and how people find out more. I am seeking ad-hoc people who might be on maternity leave who can work on project basis. It can be from home.  Or anyone who wants to volunteer for Amcariza Foundation (my charity). Great way to update your CV when returning to work after being a mum or carer. I know as I have been there!

Your website link.

http://www.lovedesh.com/ and http://amcarizafoundation.org/

Lovedesh Artisan Slow Wood Fired Curry film http://vimeo.com/70863116

If anyone wants to stock my Lovedesh™ fashion accessories range called Lovedesh Atelier™ and Lovedesh Army™, to book the Lovedesh Artisan Slow Wood Fired Curry experience™ or fancies a once in a lifetime holiday,or to just say hello or ‘hang in there Yasmin’,  then email hello@lovedesh.com.   

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