Once I designed and prototyped the site, my next challenge was finding a developer within my budget range. I wound up with a developer who didn’t understand the effort that would go into manipulating a Shopify template, and they ended up quitting halfway through. I then hired a second developer who kept failing to meet the timelines he had set, and was not detailed-oriented. Managing this process and assuring the quality of the site was the biggest and most drawn out hurdle that I had to deal with.
How do you manage running Niyya while holding on to your day job?
Maintaining a work-life balance is probably my biggest hurdle. Working a full time job in front of a screen, and finding time to design for myself, while also making sure I maintain a healthy balance was a learning curve, especially since I definitely value my free time. As a result, it took a bit longer to launch but I was able to keep more of a balance.
However, what was exciting was the new challenges I don't usually have to deal with, such as figuring out a process for production. Creating the business model was also an overwhelming thought at first, but thankfully I had some great coworkers and friends who had gone through starting up their own business and could share their wisdom.
How does your faith intersect with business?
The name Niyya translates to the Islamic conception of intention, of being thoughtful throughout your day with your purpose and actions, so the business is very closely intersected with my faith.
Taking those 10-15 mins to just reset and a focus on something beyond the day-to-day hustle helps to keep things in perspective. I think it’s similar to people who do daily meditations, and I definitely think it’s important, being that it helps to take a break from getting caught up in irrelevant worries and helps put the focus on what is actually important.
We’ve talked about the importance of bridging communities in today’s socio-political climate. How does Niyya help to foster this mission?
In Islam there are many differing sects and schools of thought, but one unifying item outside of the Quran is the prayer mat. No matter your belief or sect, we all use a mat to pray with, and so I think of the mat as a powerful, symbolic item that represents unity and brings people together. Outside of the Islamic world, there are a lot of biases, stereotypes, and negative associations with Muslims from the media, as well as opinions about what we believe and our temperaments. I thought it was important to create an item that can have multiple purposes as a way to knock down the wall between the Muslim community and those who have predisposed stigmas towards us.