HOW IMAN MIRZA LAUNCHED A LIFESTYLE BRAND IN LOCKDOWN
by ASJAD NAZIR
WHETHER it is new hobbies like baking or exercising, people around the world have embraced different interests during lockdown, but 13-year-old Iman Mirza took things a step further by starting her own fashion business.
The London-based schoolgirl designs clothes, fashion accessories and home products for her newly launched label Pink Halo, which she sells online. What makes the lockdown business all the more remarkable is that she prints the merchandise at home and also offers a custom-made service.
The British Asian teenager has followed in the footsteps of her single mother Zaynab Mirza, who is a leading beauty expert and make-up artist with an impressive track record in business.
Eastern Eye caught up with young entrepreneur Iman Mirza to talk about fashion, how she started a business in lockdown and her hopes.
You have had an interest in fashion from a young age, and always been a keen crafter and blogger, but how did your mother react when you told her you wanted to start a fashion label? Over the last few years, I have been helping my mum in all areas of her business, so she was super supportive and really excited. However, she did explain to me that setting up a business and launching a brand is hard work and was not going to be easy, while being at school full-time.
How did you begin? I originally sat down with my mum two years ago and we went through the kind of things I wanted to do under my brand, and who my customers would ideally be. That is when I decided to create products for young people. I learnt how to create a spread-sheet with products and profit margins, and how to find items that would be an instant hit. My dad also provided me with funding, which helped me buy the equipment I needed to get started.
When did you finally decide to start the fashion business? I had been putting things together over the last couple of years. Then lockdown happened and we were thrown into the uncertainty of not knowing when life would be normal again. So, rather than getting upset at being stuck indoors, I thought it’s now or never. I knew that if I didn’t get behind this now, it would be another few years. Starting the business in lockdown was really exciting because finally it was all becoming real.
What inspired the name of your fashion label? The brand was originally going to be named after my blog ‘Iman Inspires’, which I’ve had for the last few years. But I decided on Pink Halo, as I absolutely love pink and the halo was to represent the aura of how pink makes you feel, which is happiness and joy.
What did you have to learn before starting the business? I had to learn about pricing, profit margins, suppliers and finding the right selling platforms. I also had to learn how to use equipment and machinery way bigger than me.
How did you feel when the website was launched? I started a countdown on my social media about a week before the launch and that was when the excitement set in. I said a prayer when we hit the go live button and it was actually a tearful moment. I was also really nervous as it was now out there for the world to see.
Tell us about your range of fashion products? Within the range, I have fashion, beauty, accessories and home products. The main focus is to create custom-made items, which are sustainable and eco-friendly. So far, the vast majority of the range is eco-friendly. All our t-shirts are 100 per cent cotton. All our shipping packaging is biodegradable and compostable.
How does it feel to hand make orders? I love handmaking orders because then I get to make sure everything is exactly how I want it and how I would wear it. Also, it allows me to keep my costs down,as I am not holding on to unnecessary stock and worrying if it will sell or not.
How much help has your mother been in the venture? Mum has been a huge help as without her this was all just a dream. She has taught me how business is not to be taken lightly and it is not something I should do just to look cool. I learnt that you don’t need thousands of pounds to start a label. But the biggest thing I learnt from her is that if you are passionate about something don’t be scared to pursue it.
Where do you get inspirations from for your designs? A lot of my inspiration comes from things I love. I also get a lot of inspiration when I travel. I might see something in a shop window, then sketch it down.
How do your friends and family feel about you starting the business? Some of my friends have been really cool about it and keep sending me screenshots of all the things they like, which always makes me smile. The support that I’ve had from my family has been amazing with everyone being really happy and proud about it.
What is your future plans for your fashion business? I want the business to grow with me into a full teen lifestyle brand that is completely sustainable and eco-friendly. I hope to build it into a multi-million pound empire in the years to come.
What advice would you give other children wanting to start a business? As my favourite brand owner Walt Disney once said, “all our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” I would say just do it. You have nothing to lose. If it’s something you want to do and are passionate about, go for it. People may not support you at first, but if your vision is clear then you’ll eventually get support. It is really important to know what it is that you want to do, make notes, create vision boards and learn all aspects. Then be ready to work hard.