Shababa Ishmam, A Deeper Dive Into The World Of a Woman Entrepreneur
When it comes to following one’s dreams and passion, not everyone can stand the test of time. But Shababa Ishmam, a Successful restaurateur and an innovative entrepreneur, on her own strive managed to make a mark on the food community in Dhaka. Here, at Fashion Blitzs we had the wonderful privilege to have a one-on-one chat with her. A conversation that led us through her entrancing journey and gave us an idea of the nook and cranny of the world of a woman entrepreneur. We had asked Shababa Ishmam a series of questions to get to know the specialty she brings to the table. And as our readers, now you have the privilege of witnessing her aura as well.
- You, as an entrepreneur, started your journey at a very early age, What challenges you had to overcome to create a name for yourself in the food industry?
For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a businesswoman. Growing up, I watched my father with wonder and envy. Emulating my father was only one of my aspirations. I was willing to learn everything from scratch to build my own business at a very young age. Speaking of “from scratch”, starting Red Window was no fluke. Countless stories and occurrences led me to believe that opening a restaurant and diving into the food industry was the perfect next step for me. Being extremely drawn to cooking and baking from my childhood was definitely one of the many signs. With that being said, as passionate as I was for what I do, it was no walk in the park either. Challenges like being in more than one place at a time stood in the way. My staff at Dhanmondi might need me at the same time as my staff at Gulshan. And so I always had to be on the go. Even with challenges like chefs leaving without any notice on-peak hours to cash theft, I had been through it all. In any situation, I told myself, “All you can do at this point is learn from your mistakes and move on.”
- Your track record shows that your business ventures are very versatile, what motivates you to take such risks?
Being a businesswoman is my joie de vivre. It gives me more joy than I can explain in words. At the same time, doing only one thing never excited me. Having said that, venturing into the food business and exploring the wedding industry was my big leap of faith. Dalas, cards, boxes- these things intrigue me. Finding unique designs, listening to the stories of clients, seeing their eyes light up when we execute their dreams into reality, are the things that motivate me to take more risks. I run The Paper Boutique with my best friends. I trust them with my life, as well as my business. Having shoulders to lean on is always a bonus when you start a business that was first of its kind at that time.
- What was the secret behind you keeping your business going, even during the pandemic?
Weddings, birthdays, and other celebrations halted when the world encountered the pandemic. People were not on the lookout for wedding cards or even big cakes and catering. It took everything in us not to lose hope but there is always light at the end of the tunnel. We were only getting a few gigs here and there. We invested in marketing and started working on the parts of the business that were on the inside. Soon enough, the world started to open up and the businesses were back in action. You just have to keep your head and heart strong during these times.
- As a successful woman entrepreneur, you are a role model for many who want to follow in your footsteps, what advice would you like to give them?
Being a young female entrepreneur is not easy. I faced obstacles I didn’t even know existed. However, you have to remember that this is your dream. Dreams don’t work unless you do. You have to keep at it and persevere. In the world of business, you cannot expect things to go smoothly all the time. Sometimes, most of the money you make goes back into the business. You always have to keep your mind open for new learning opportunities. The last and probably most important advice I can give someone is that having a strong and reliable support system is crucial. I’m one of the lucky ones because my parents, friends, and husband- all are my biggest cheerleaders. Without their encouragement, I would have broken down a long time ago. Not only that, you have to start becoming a source of strength for your friends and family members in their ventures as well.
- What else can we expect to witness from you in the future?
Well, that is a surprise that you will have to wait for and see!
In a male dominant industry, Shababa Ishmam is a topic of discussion now. Through this conversation, we got a glimpse of her journey and how she thrived to make a name for herself. She spoke very eloquently while leaving us wanting to know more. Especially regarding what to look out for in the future. We wish Shababa Ishmam all the very best for each of her future endeavors.