Next time you feel like giving up on your dream, remember the inspirational story of Sadia Sisay.
The 47-Year old former cancer nurse arrived in the UK at 16, at only 26 she suffered a stroke (complications during childbirth), which left her blind for two years. She endured further heartache when in 2014 she lost her husband, just as her fledgling business beingU, launched three years earlier began to take off! She counts her family and loved ones as getting her through these tough times, but she was about to be hauled through even more tragedy when her mother also suffered a stroke six years ago. Sadia has had to balance building her business along with caring for her mother and daughter.
Her entrepreneurial story is one of tenacity, courage and passion. In February 2017 she is set to finally launch beingU her high quality lingerie label for women of all skin tones with a particularly strong focus on women of colour.
We were compelled to find out more about her.
Melan Magazine: How did you start in business, was there a lightbulb moment?
Sadia Sisay: Definitely, I am one for getting things done. If something not right, I try to fix it rather than complain. So that moment it hit me seven years ago that my daughter was going to have the same experience as me and not have nude underwear it only took a few seconds to decide that I was going to try and fix it by making her nude underwear. It was that simple The last simple moment I have had since then!
MM: What are the strengths that propelled you to succeed?
SS: I am told that I get incredibly passionate when I believe in something and I think this helped me stay the course. I am also stubborn as my family and friends can testify! I keep telling them it is a good thing and I am proving I was right as without that I would have given up a long time ago and not persevered.
MM: Tell us about your business?
SS: beingU offers lingerie and lingerie solutions in skin tones that work for all skin types. We aim to make all women feel visible, that is something that is very important to me. We have worked on colour, and fit tirelessly to get to what we believe is an exciting range for our launch. We have tried to be as inclusive as we can with sizing and number of skin tones offered, and will increase these as quickly as we can, as well as adding new styles. We tried to start with a solid base that can be added to, styles and shapes women really need and want in their own skin tone, but as I said, this is just the beginning!
MM: Give us your elevator pitch!
SS: Imagine different skin toned lingerie and lingerie solutions, with an impressive range of sizes for the bras and briefs that cup the bottom, 82% of black women and women of colour say they would buy this if they had it available.
MM: How did you finance your business? Any financial backing?
SS: No, not at all. I had to raise money on a personal level to get this done.
MM: Who has inspired you in business?
SS: I know you may want a well-known name but my answer to this question is beingU creative director Bok Goodall, you will never come across someone more committed in all she does than her. She is incredibly creative across all aspects of design not just lingerie or fashion, has a great eye for detail and is an incredible parent.
MM: What has been your greatest challenge?
SS: Trying to find out how to produce lingerie! I knew nothing about the fashion industry apart from that a lot of my money was spent on it. It took me months to get on the right track.
MM: What has been your greatest achievement so far?
SS: My daughter.
MM: Is there anything you wished you’d done differently?
SS: I don’t think so. This is not me saying that I have done everything right. On the contrary, I have made many mistakes and found a way to rectify them. I just think wishing it were different takes away from the person I am today – a collection of the things done right and the mistakes along the way.
MM: How do you juggle family and business?
SS: I don’t easily and with not much sleep. Not enough hours in the day. There is a ball dropped here and there! Technology helps a lot as I can be mobile even around the house as I work and do what needs doing. I can have a conference call whilst I fold clothes or load the dryer.
MM: What’s your favourite dish?
SS: Sashimi. I could eat that all day and every day.