“The question isn't who is going to let me; it's who is going to stop me” - Ayn Rand, author and philosopher
There's nothing more empowering than a female entrepreneur who starts from scratch on her quest for success. As time passes, the number of female entrepreneurs is rising, which is shaping up our society for the better. We got in touch with some of these young, fierce women, to hear their stories.
The Curious Crate is a monthly book subscription box run by Arshia and Fabiha Atiq. It is the only book subscription box based in Bangladesh. Based on the theme of the month, they feature a newly released book and related bookish goodies in a box catered for the bibliophiles of the bookish community.
“It was a sudden idea for me”, says Arshia. “I am a bookworm, and I had been eyeing this amazing Canadian book subscription box for a while. When I went up to order it, the shipping was double the cost of the box, which was not at all feasible. That's when I thought about creating a concept of a book subscription box available for Bangladeshi bookworms. I quickly roped in my younger sister for help and we got started on our business model.”
Initially, they had trouble getting the idea of a book subscription box out to people, but now they know what The Curious Crate is. The subscribers keep the Atiq sisters motivated to stick to their plan, as some subscribers have been ordering every single crate for a year now.
The road ahead is full of challenges for The Curious Crate, as they will soon be available for international shipment.
Made With Love is an online art boutique run by Humairah Shams and Sarah Shams. It's an attempt to combine calligraphy and art into the things people use every day. All the artworks are original and all of the products are made locally, with love. “That's all we really want to do,” Humairah adds, “to inspire people to do something they can enjoy and brighten up their day.”
“Typography has always inspired me,” says Humaira, “to be able to express writing as an artform was something that has appealed to me for as long as I can remember.” As she slowly started to grow as an artist, she plucked up the courage to open her own Facebook page to publicly document her work. She started to get better at it, and her sister, Sarah, urged her to start thinking of designs they could use on bags, and after a few months of deliberation, they set out to look for suppliers and vendors who could help us. Once they found people willing to print in small quantities, the Shams sisters started developing their first products. They decided to debut their new brand by setting up their first stall at an art exhibition “Carousel of Chaos” organized by a group of young, independent artists. And so, “Made with Love” was born.
Brands like Rifle Paper Co. and Paperchase have always been their biggest inspirations. Their goals for the future include taking their brand to an international market and spreading the love worldwide.
Newton’s Archive, run by Sabrina Rahman, Aurni Tasnim, Ishmam Shafi and Rahnuma Ahsan Raima, started with a lifestyle blog Facebook page called Bardot’s and Newton. Bardot’s and Newton were invited to an event, for which they made candles and paintings. The candles were very well received, and Newton’s Archive realized that there’s a gap in the market for handmade and themed products. They realized there were a lot of opportunities with the idea. The purchasing power in Bangladesh has been increasing and we observed an increase in the need to spend on products for personal gratification. Movies, books and the character involved have become mainstream, and the public enjoys mementos associated with them. Scented candles are their primary product line, and scented candles in Bangladesh are usually imported and not readily available. The candles available in Bangladesh are either too expensive or of substandard quality. Seeing these opportunities, Newton’s Archive launched on Facebook in 2017. The response they received during the first month of business was phenomenal. From 2017 they have grown from a small kitchen to office space, from making 10 candles a day to making 100 candles a day. Their product line features candles and bookmarks as well. In the future, they aspire to be Bangladesh’s first home fragrance brand.
Newton’s Archive is mainly different because of the scented candles. Scented candles are rare in the Bangladeshi market, and Newton’s Archive offers unique and affordable products that are of international standard. In addition to the quality, the theme behind every candle is unique. They choose themes according to popularity, pop culture and their followers’ choices. An example of this is their best seller candle inspired by the show FRIENDS, where they created a caramel and coffee scented candle, reminiscent of Central Perk. Thus, the candle called “I’ll Be There for You” was an instant hit. With the themes that are existent, their candles ignite nostalgia and warmth. Along with the products, the community they’ve built is incredible. Their community is unique and aspirational and is one where everyone is whole-heartedly welcome. If you visit them on Instagram, you’ll see exactly what they mean. “With Newton’s Archive,” they say, “you’re not just buying a candle, you’re buying an experience.”
“Stellar was initially the result of an impulsive decision to create, for the Bangladeshi market, what we loved seeing on shelves most”, says Sarah Zarrar. She was living abroad at the time, and almost every time she went shopping, Sarah would end up spending the most on room decor and stationeries. Around the same time, she started realizing two things: one, that her friends and family back in Bangladesh did not have equal access to such quirky products, and that there were tremendous talent and potential in Bangladeshi artists waiting to be unveiled. Thus, the more detailed idea, and conception, of Stellar came about.
Sarah’s inspiration came from the tremendous work that local artists were doing in Dhaka, as well as the innovative and thoughtful product designs she saw around her, from brands such as Typo, Kikki.K and Ohh Deer. Over the years she has also been inspired by other environmentally conscious brands to incorporate meaningful values into Stellar, by implementing a no-plastic usage policy, collaborating with rural NGOs and working and paying their raw material suppliers directly.
Sarah is very grateful for the response, love and support Stellar has had from the beginning until now. She hopes and prays that this is how it will continue to be and that Stellar can constantly give back to their customers.