Spotlight: Hayat Hashi

Hayat Hashi was born and raised in Tanzania and moved to the United Kingdom when she was 19-years-old. Hayat went to college in Bristol and studied Theatrical & Media Make-up/Beauty Therapy. In 2001, Hayat moved to London where she pursued a BA in Management and worked for Chanel as a Business Manager for over 10 years in Harrods. She eventually moved to working with other luxury skincare brands such as La Mer and La Prairie before starting her own fashion brand called Arawelo Boutique. For more information, visit her website here.

Name: Hayat Hashi

Occupation/Role: Founder of Arawelo Boutique

What did you want to be when you were growing up?

Coming from a family of 11 siblings and living in a multi-generational household, I cannot remember growing up with any specific career aspirations. What I knew was that I was determined to not remain in relative poverty and provide a better life for my parents, may Allah have mercy on them.

My father worked extremely hard from his honest living as a cattleman. However, having 8 sisters in one household, as well as other relatives, forced my mother to become creative and to design dresses because we could not afford to buy new clothes. I have been told many times over the years that I was the pickiest and that it was difficult to take me fabric shopping, as I paid strong attention to detail and didn’t like my clothes to be made of low-quality materials. I have taken those characteristics from my young age and taken them into adulthood. I have also taken my parents work ethic and drive and have used it to create a brand and product line of the highest standard possible, which is Arawelo Boutique.

Who were your biggest role models growing up?

My parents. Raising 12 kids in a foreign country was incredibly challenging. They ensured that we were all looked after and that our needs were met, even with the little they had, and they made sure that we felt loved and special in a crowded home. They were always positive around us which allowed our household to foster a peaceful and harmonious living atmosphere.

What is one thing that you would like to tell your younger self?

Not to carry the stresses of tomorrow today and to apply yourself fully in the present and leave the future to Allah Subhana wa ta’ala.

What was a life-changing moment you experienced that shaped you into the woman that you are today?

I used to work for big retail brands at a management level in London for over 20 years. It was very rewarding but incredibly stressful. I had to work all the time, I had to work from home even on the days when I was sick and I sometimes had to work during my annual leave days. After moving to the UK, there were a few years which I had not returned home as I was busy working hard to send remittances to my family. After a few years of working, I managed to save enough money to go back home. I discovered that my sister had set up her own fashion store in Arusha, Tanzania which had great potential to grow. I was extremely awestruck by her dedication and efforts and she inspired and encouraged me to create my own brand with its own identity in the UK.

What made you pursue your current career?

My mother became sick with dementia around a decade ago and before that my brother had been mentally ill for many years. They both require care 24/7, which my older sister selflessly provides them. One particular trip back home, I saw how increasingly difficult it was becoming for my sister to fulfil this role and I decided to break away from the rat race of retail so that I could support my sister. By creating my own brand, I have more control over my time. I can return home more frequently to assist in caring for my family whilst still providing remittances to cover medical bills and other costs.

What is a typical day like for you?

I start with Fajr prayer, that sets the tone for my day. Then, I have a glass of hot water and I go straight to my Pilates classes. As a business owner, I have the privilege to work from home although I spend lots of time in Chiswick coffee shops as I tend to be more creative in different settings. If you ever see me, say hi!

What has been the biggest obstacle in your professional life so far and how did you manage to overcome it?

The biggest obstacle I have experienced is when I first worked for a large world renown department store in central London, which in the early 2000s was not known for being very multicultural or diverse. I was able to work and succeed in a high-pressure environment whilst maintaining my integrity, morals and ethics. I stayed true to myself, which not a lot of people would have been able to do in such a work setting.

Which Somali woman inspires you and why?

Excluding family members, I must say the two Somali women that have inspired me are Edna Adan Ismail and Hodan Nalayeh, may Allah have mercy on her. These two amazing ladies have helped the Somali community through their selfless activism by uplifting and empowering women in Somali communities. They have shown that adhering to Islamic rules and principles do not prevent women from making significant impacts in the communities. Through their actions, they have highlighted and given press coverage to sensitive and important issues in Somali societies. They have been instruments for social change and encouraged millions of Muslim women to follow in their footsteps.

What advice would you give to a person pursuing your chosen career?

Do not hesitate to pursue your dream. As long as you plan carefully there is no reason why you cannot succeed in your chosen business. Do not hesitate to ask questions regarding subject areas which you have a lack of knowledge in. Put your pride aside and remember that all experts, professionals and leaders were once beginners in their field. Lastly, do not expect success overnight and do not become demoralised at slow progress as it will eventually come if you stick with it. Years of hard work, dedication and perseverance will culminate into success, and I am sure you can do it too.

How would you like people to remember you?

The most important thing I would like to be known for is being a person with good Akhlaq and Adab, these are the most vital characteristics a person should have. Anything else people would like to associate with me is a bonus.

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