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  • Writer's picturePradnya Punekar

From starting entrepreneur journey at a young age to owning fashion brand which is breaking barriers

Updated: Dec 27, 2020

Read inspiring story of this Fashion Entrepreneur from Manchester. UK who started her entrepreneurial journey at a very young age and today owns a fashion brand which envisions to break barriers and empower women through their unique and bold creations.

“I started earning and supporting myself from a very early age, although my family did not support us working outdoors, we were always encouraged to work from home, so I have always been an entrepreneur” Shaheena Shaikh- Founder- Falcon Fashion-Manchester, UK

It was a cold autumn morning in London and as I was sipping my midday coffee I was conversing with Shaheena and what instilled me with inspiration was when said “ Women need to come out of their shell and express themselves to the world”. Starting her entrepreneurial journey at a young age Shaheena is on a journey to break barriers and empower women through her clothing label which creates unique designs, amalgamates creative fusion of east and west, uses colourful bolds prints for women who aren’t afraid to stand out from the crowd. Her clothing label and brand speaks a language of courage, boldness and uniqueness in every form, and she curates custom designer clothes for her customers based on their unique taste and personality. Her hardwork, dedication and courage can be seen in her work.

“I have always been passionate about fashion, for me it has always been a way of expression. Fashion has always been a long-lasting connection with social and personal identities, and running my own business is the only way I get freedom to use my own imagination and creativity to express myself through my designs” she says.

Unleashing Creativity

Shaheena moved to UK and during her initial days she took a job as a SEN teaching assistant, while she loved her job and found it rewarding, alongside it also gave her the flexibility needed, but she deep down her heart she always nurtured her dream of becoming a fashion designer. She had discovered her love for fashion and finally in 2018 Falcon Fashion was born in her home in Manchester, UK with a vision to create more handmade, sustainable and unique products and accessories. Her clothing label creates a fusion of Indian traditional craft with modern western technologies and reaches to global market. Their designs are very unique and bold which promote diversity and individuality, which are essential components in encouraging the empowerment of women which is their goal.

“No two days are same in my studio, one day we are planning and discussing themes, colour pallet, and other days we are busy doing draping and or pattern designing. I also love the freedom it gives me to use my creativity and ideas, nothing can be more exciting than seeing an idea developing from a concept to final product”, she says with a lot of confidence and pride in her voice.

Finding Niche and Minding Money

Shaheena’s love for fashion, colours and bold designs made her deep dive into the researching everything about fashion industry. Before she launched Falcon Fashion she undertook research to understand her target audience, competitors, market trends and all the financial aspects related to business. “Starting a business is not only about knowing your professional skills but also knowledge of NEXT STEPS”, she says.

Post conducting extensive research she invested her time in business planning and her initial saving were invested in buying resources and raw materials required to get her business up and running. She kept her targets and goals realistic and focused on delivering unique designs to her customers. Talking about her first ever collection “I remember I joined a kitty, and the money raised were used toward making my first collection. You may find it bit strange, but I am being honest, as I myself loved this idea, and it might also help many other women out there”, she says and shares this wonderful idea of raising money which women have been using for years, both in their professional and personal life. Since her first collection she has not looked back and has created many beautiful collections which are adored and loved by many women in UK.

Focus on Essentials

“Initially everything was a challenge from building a team to raising capital and managing time. In those initial days I used get stressed about everything, but gradually I learnt to break my tasks and take one step at a time, and accepted the fact that being patience but persistent is the only key, and things will fall in place. I have also started planning well ahead so we can hit the target” she says.

Kick the challenges and keep it going

Every entrepreneur faces many challenges so did Shaheena. But her perservance kept her going through the journey. Her challenges It began with finding right staff in limited budget, but she was determined and reached out to various sources. Her university contacts helped her in finding the right staff. But that was not all, later after she launched her first collection it did not give her the returns as she was expecting. As her business grew and moved to next phase of growth she realised that they needed to invest in promotion and marketing to raise brand awareness and reach wider market, which means she needed more funds. To keep the funds flowing she also took few freelancing fashion jobs, but the goal remained same, Falcon must go on. Finally, after few months she started seeing progress, people started turning up at their studio for their customized garments, and today she proudly shares that their online sales is growing rapidly.

Empowering Women and Way Forward

Shaheena lives by this quote. She not only envisions to create unique and bold designs for her customers but at the same time works towards to collaborating with other artisans and guide and help them to bring their talent and product to life and support several other business elements. She reaches out to talented women and craft makers who wish to be independent but cannot access job market and are restricted due to geographical location or household responsibilities and supports them to start their own little entrepreneur journey.

Advice to Women Entrepreneurs

“Perseverance is a key here, as much as you are ready with full proof plan for success, you also must be prepared for hiccups of uncertainty and failures”, she says.

Know more about Shaheena-

When I face a big challenge- I take out time to analyse, set up my own expectations and prepare myself for it and then draw a plan to break it up into achievable tasks.

My greatest fear is- Losing my family.

The most courageous thing I have ever done is- The most courageous thing I have ever done is to Decide to pursue a new career in my 30s. When everything was set perfectly around my routine, and I was getting a decent monthly pay cheque. I decided to pursue a career in Fashion Design and start all over again from scratch.

If I could go back in time to when I was 20 I would tell myself- Today when I look back at 20year old me, I wish if I was more confident and daring to break the barriers created around me. I wish if I would have listened back then that little inner voice telling me “you can do it”.

My favourite business tool or resource is- I Cannot do without my laptop/tablet

My favourite quote is- Challenges are what makes life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.” -- Joshua J. Marine

Shaheena's familly ties-

I grew up in a large extended family with many cousins and elderly. Here particularly I would like to mention one person who largely influenced my life and business.

My grandmother, who successfully managed our business, and simultaneously our large family. The most commendable thing here is she always worked from home and kept an eye on smooth running of business as well as household. She had taken our family business to new heights. While one can never imagine a woman behind her black veil can also be so intellectual. That planted a seed in my mind that a woman can be an amazing leader also.

And of course, my better half, who has always been supportive and encouraged me. I have been lucky enough to have someone who gives his valuable input whenever I need it and can also be my honest critic which helps me understand my design from others perspective.

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