I never thought of starting a magazine to be quite honest. I had just returned from the Middle East and was setting up my agency when my uncle, who is the CEO of C.A. Editorials, approached me with his vision of a fashion magazine. I was intrigued by all the new Muslim-owned businesses that were cropping up in Singapore – from modest fashion to halal cafes. I come from a multiracial family myself. My father is Indian-Eurasian and my mother is Malay-Indonesian. My uncle and I decided to create Gaya as a platform for the evolving Muslim community that was breaking the barriers and changing misconceptions. Whilst Malays are generally Muslims, not all Muslims are Malays. There are Indian Muslims, Chinese Muslims, even Eurasian Muslims, and they don’t speak Malay. That’s not their native language. Personally my command of the Malay language isn’t that fantastic Haha! So I made it completely English but named it Gaya which means ‘Style’ in Malay. I had never intended it to be an international magazine. But by the third issue, I had international bloggers, writers, businesses, knocking at our door interested to be featured. I’m glad I did.
Firstly, I keep Allah SWT in mind. That’s the first and foremost. Having that strong foundation keeps my intention on the right track. I’ll be honest, there have been times when I felt like giving up because juggling two businesses is not easy but I feel if I did that, there would be so many people I would disappoint and I won’t do that. It’s not just about me, it’s about everyone involved and the relationships I’ve forged with them.
I think the biggest one so far has got to be making it out on my own and making people believe that I can do it. I keep reminding myself to have trust with myself and faith in Allah SWT. The more doubt I’m faced with, the more determined I feel to prove them wrong. But at the end of it, stay humble.
I do get inspired by a variety of women. I say, women because deep down I’m a feminist. My girlfriends inspire me, my mom and grandmother inspire me. In my line of work, both in digital marketing and Gaya, I have been blessed to have met strong independent women and they have inspired me as well.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain
Patience, perseverance, faith, trust and passion in what you do. As Muslims, we are taught to have faith in Allah SWT to provide us with what’s best for us. There are going to be missteps and failures along the way, so you need to persevere to achieve your goal. Mistakes are part and parcel of life and they make you stronger and wiser. So be thankful for the failures. Don’t look at them as the end but the beginning of something new.
I don’t think there’s anything in my past that I regret but if I think about it, one advice I would give my younger teenage self is to love yourself. Everyone is beautiful in their own unique way.
There are 2 books that have inspired me. The Alchemist and Veronika Decides to Die by Paolo Coelho. The stories are different but they both speak of finding yourself and your true intention in life.
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