SurrounD yourself with like minded people - ideally entrepreneurs who are performing better than you, says Wajeeha Husain.
Interview with Wajeeha Husain, Founder of Chocolateeha - a company founded on her obsession with chocolate (I'm sure many of us can relate) and her desire to work for herself as she approached the age of 30.
Wajeeha is a business superstar who took the bull by the horns and quit her full-time job in London for a passion she felt compelled to explore. She invested 12k of her own money and had taken a risk of ditching the comfortable lifestyle a consistent salary offered and and delved into the unknown world of entrepreneurship. Read Wajeeha's tips about soft-launches, social media and how quitting a well-paid job can be worth it in the end...
Hello Wajeeha, thanks for joining me on the Business Spotlight page of Introvert Thoughts. We'd all love to read about your career background. How did you get started doing what you are doing now, and your journey?
I graduated with a first class Hons degree in Computer Science and worked for Nissan for 8 years since. I have worked all over Europe in Paris and Switzerland, but spent the last 2 years in London working in Sales & Marketing.
I spent my 20’s searching for something that was missing in my career and I didn't know what I was looking for, which is part of the reason why I changed jobs frequently and worked all over Europe. In September 2016 it finally hit me. My 30th birthday was fast approaching in April 2017 and it was time to reflect on what I had achieved during my 20s. The only thing that struck me was the fear of feeling disappointed with myself in another 10 years. Did I still want to be chasing something and working for someone else in my 40s. It was then I decided I had to quit my job and search for my calling.
I spent 2 months researching different industries and felt completely lost. I then asked myself, what problem do I want to solve for myself. The answer was simple. I wanted to make it possible for people to enjoy eating chocolate everyday.
I started my venture into exploring chocolate and spent 3 months purely researching what chocolate is. I made my first ever chocolate bar in March 2017 and I handed in my notice in April 2017 just before my 30th birthday!
Since then Chocolateeha launched in September 2017 and has sold over 600 bars of chocolate! We have launched 7 chocolate bars and are already innovating and thinking of new products.
• What was it like in the first week or two of starting your own business?
Crazy. The website exploded! Our social media engagement was insane. We increased our social media following by 100% and in the first 2 weeks we had a conversion rate of 20%! I LOVED every minute of the madness and wished I could go back to it.
However it was a totally new experience. Being my own boss, creating my own rules, doing what I love and making money out of it! What dreams are made of!
I come from an Asian background where success is determined by your career and your lifestyle. At the age of 29 I was working in London with a nice car and lived in a great place and therefore was deemed successful by everyone. The day I decided to quit my job, things changed and a lot.......
• How did you fund your business in the initial stages and how has that changed as time went on?
I saved up a lot of money whilst working at Nissan and invested £12K into the business. However this was not enough! I needed more and so I took out £4K with Virgin Startup which helped my fund my packaging. I also had a part time job up until the end of September 2017 so that I didn't have to rely on the business revenue to support the business.
• What's the most important thing you're working on right now, and how are you making it happen?
I am working on talking to our customers and understanding their needs and what they want to see more of. Chocolateeha is all about putting the customer at the front and developing ways for them to eat chocolate more often.
We are going to be running focus groups with our target audience and as a result we will develop products specific to their needs.
• Tell us about your support network - did you have the backing of your friends and family?
My parents were a huge support for me. Although initially they were not on board at the start, they came around really quickly. I come from an Asian background where success is determined by your career and your lifestyle. At the age of 29 I was working in London with a nice car and lived in a great place and therefore was deemed successful by everyone. The day I decided to quit my job, things changed and a lot of people did not understand why I quit such a successful and comfortable lifestyle! It took people a while to understand me and my business. When I launched Chocolateeha, they understood how happy it made me feel and were very supportive.
This also made me realise that although its great to have the backing of friends and family from the start, this shouldn’t really stop you from doing what you want. You cannot please everyone. The world is shaped on stereotypes and we all judge everyone for the decisions they make. Becoming an entrepreneur makes you challenge everything. It forces you to be comfortable outside of your comfort zone! It was then I knew that there are some people in my life who don’t agree with my lifestyle choices and therefore being around them too much will only bring me down. Yes thats right, I had to be brutal. I distanced myself from negative people and surrounded myself with people who were positive but still challenged me.
As a result, I joined an accelerator programme to surround myself with like minded people to therefore keep myself in a positive mental attitude.
• What would you say gets you out of bed in the morning?
The passion and drive to do something exciting everyday. To be Able to influence people by you and you brand. The desire to succeed.
• Tell us how you got your first few clients (include tips on attaining new business)
I setup a soft launch for my business at the London Halal Food Festival in August where I met lots of potential customers and told them about me and my brand. These people followed us on Instagram and our journey whilst we worked towards launching our chocolate bars. My first ever customer was a person I met at the London Halal Food Festival. It’s so important to get yourself out there before you launch. Try talking to your potential customers and tell them about your brand. Get them to follow you on social media so that when you launch you have actual customers.
• Can you give my readers tips on getting close to the 12 month mark?
Surrounding yourself with like minded people - ideally entrepreneurs who are performing better than you. They will inspire you to push you and your business further.
Talk to someone about your business everyday or write about it - this will help you to reflect daily.
Always challenge yourself - Even if it’s something as simple as posting a photo on social media. Think about how you can make it better.
Enjoy yourself and have a good time. If you aren’t having fun, then you are doing it for the wrong reasons. Maybe you are too stressed, so take time to unwind and relax.
• What is your commercial strategy and how do you plan to make even more money?
The long term goal is to open chocolate cafes and get my product stocked in all major retailers. I would like to take chocolateeha to new levels and collaborate with beauty brands.
• Where do you see yourself and your business in 5 years time?
Running 2 Independent Chocolate cafes with the intention of opening more. Products stocked in all premium retailers Products stocked in major premium retailers and independent cafes.
Have a team of people working all over the UK to build the brand.
Working on expanding the brand into beauty and personal care.
My name is Wajeeha and I am adventourous, passionate and crazy most of the time. My obsession with chocolate and wanting to eat it everyday was the reason why I founded Chocolateeha.
If you are someone who wants to enjoy guilt free chocolate, then check out our website:
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