Nafisa Bakkar Podcast Transcript

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Nafisa Bakkar: [00:00:00] I really did have a few years of crisis of confidence where I was just like, no, I can't do this. But what I then realized it was essentially microaggressions and not being in inclusive spaces, and in my book had to make money. I have a chapter called The Myth of Imposter Syndrome. It was like, something needs to exist.

Nafisa Bakkar: Let me try and build it. So Amaliah  today is a media company for Muslim women. We reach 7.2 million people organically across articles, podcasts, videos, events. We also work with brands, Tesco, Lush, Spotify, Dove. Above all of it, it's a mindset.

Amardeep Parmar: Welcome to The BAE HQ, where we inspire, connect, and guide the next generation of British Asians. If you watch on YouTube, make sure you hit the subscribe button, and if you listen to Apple, Spotify, make sure you leave us a five star review. Today we're happy with us, Nafisa Bakkar, who's a co-founder and CEO of Amaliah, the CEO of Halal Gems, and the author of How to Make Money.

Amardeep Parmar: How are you doing today? 

Nafisa Bakkar:  I'm good. [00:01:00] Thank you for having me. 

Amardeep Parmar: We've had a nice chat before we start recording here, and I know that you've got a really interesting backstory, but there's so much covering this episode. We have to get through it quite quickly. So what I wanna know is when you're growing up.

Amardeep Parmar: Did you ever believe that you'd ever get to where you are today? 

Nafisa Bakkar: God, no. I grew up like probably many of your guests in a household, which was, you know, the expectation was you're gonna be a doctor, engineer. You know, everyone knows the story and the expectation. And I did study science as an undergrad at U C L I studied natural sciences.

Nafisa Bakkar: I love sciences, I loved maths. I was pretty academic. I would say. I always thought I would go and work for one of the Big four or like, you know, just that, that traditional path. And then I very much ended up starting a business thinking, yeah, let's give it a shot, not really thinking it would work out.

Nafisa Bakkar: And so if you told my younger self that I do what I do now, there would just be absolute disbelief .

Amardeep Parmar: And you've got a lot of confidence now. Did you have that when you were growing up as well? Or [00:02:00] was that something that's grown over time? 

Nafisa Bakkar: Not  at all. I think for me, especially with business, I was very aware that there weren't a lot of founders that were women, that were South Asian women, that were Muslim women.

Nafisa Bakkar: And so I constantly took that as a cue of, oh, you're just not meant to do it. You, that's not your path. Your path is the science and maths and all of that sort of stuff. And it took me a while to really find my own stride and be like, actually, I deserve to take up space here and. I'm as competent and I can build a business.

Nafisa Bakkar: I really did have like a few years of like crisis of confidence where I was just like, no, I can't do this. Even when we joined an accelerator called Ignite, I was the only female CEO, only woman of color. We would meet investors every single week on a Wednesday. We'd do like speed networking. Out of 102 were women.

Nafisa Bakkar: The rest were white men. The women were two white women. So constantly I was getting these signals of like, you are in the wrong place. Like you, [00:03:00] it's, you are lucky to be here. And some people might call that imposter syndrome, but what I then realized is actually, it was essentially microaggressions and not being in inclusive spaces, and in my book had to make money.

Nafisa Bakkar: I have a chapter called The Myth of Imposter Syndrome, and I realized that I was turning up into spaces feeling like an imposter because I was being treated like one. It wasn't because I didn't deserve to be there. It wasn't because like I wasn't as good and things like that. And so I really had to build my own confidence to be like, no, I can like build a business.

Nafisa Bakkar: I can raise money because everyone around me at the time were, you know, White Tech Bros raising money and I was like, raising money. Like, what the heck? And so I really, really had to work on my confidence to, to get to where I am now, where I'm like, yeah, I can like go toe to toe with you if you need to.

Amardeep Parmar: What's interesting to me as  if you like you didn't belong in these places. 

Nafisa Bakkar:Yeah. 

Amardeep Parmar:  What made you go anyway? , what made you become a founder if you like, you [00:04:00] didn't belong or you had this outsider mindset, but you still did it. 

Nafisa Bakkar: Yeah. 

Amardeep Parmar: What, what helped you overcome that barrier?

Nafisa Bakkar: I think the first thing is like, I never really intended to start a business. I just realized there was something that needed to exist.

Nafisa Bakkar: I, I actually really love working for other people 'cause I feel like you get to learn so much and I kind of was like, let me just like put one foot in front of the other I, I. I know it sounds stupid, but I almost hadn't connected the dots of like, this is gonna be a business. It was like, something needs to exist.

Nafisa Bakkar: Let me try and build it. So I started, I went on a coding course with founders and coders who are incredible. They help you become a junior developer within like a, a couple of months. And I was like, okay, that's my first step of I wanna build something. Let me learn how to build it. And so I was never thinking about where could this be?

Nafisa Bakkar: Like how would I make money from it? All those things I was just like, I've just got a like tiptoe take step by step, and I guess it's one of those things where, [00:05:00] You just start finding momentum and I left my job, so I graduated, started a job, did the job for a year. In that time I was like working on Amaliah, trying to build it.

Nafisa Bakkar: I'd already done the coding course and then my Manager Tim Barnes at the time, he was like, he, he was really supportive of entrepreneurs and people trying to start something out of university and hee, after a year was like, oh, like I'll give you a promotion. You can have another job, blah, blah, blah 'cause my contract was only a year and I just had a moment and I was like, if I take that job, is it actually bringing me closer to building this thing or is it taking more time?

Nafisa Bakkar: And I just said to myself, I'm just gonna quit, give myself three months, which is not a lot of time. See what happens in three months. If I can like actually take this somewhere legit, I'll carry on. If not, I'll just go get a job. And honestly, the reason I was doing it is just so I could say I tried not because I actually thought something would come from it.

Nafisa Bakkar: And then in [00:06:00] those three months I got onto this Digital India tech scholarship thing. Did that. Then I got into an accelerator, which is three months gives you 30K full time. And at that point I'm like, right, we're on a rollercoaster. Just gotta keep going now. And so I was never thinking like in a year's time I was just like, let's just see what putting one foot forward does.

Nafisa Bakkar: And it honestly, it just snowballed from there. 

Amardeep Parmar: So it's  interesting you said that you are doing it because it needed to exist, right? 

Nafisa Bakkar: Yeah. 

Amardeep Parmar: And some people listening right now might not know where Amaliah is. 

Nafisa Bakkar:  Yeah. 

Amardeep Parmar: So why does Ali need to exist? Why is it so important? 

Nafisa Bakkar: So  Amaliah today is a media company for Muslim women, and we reach 7.2 million people organically across articles, podcasts, videos, events, and we also work with brands.

Nafisa Bakkar: So Tesco, Lush, Spotify, Dove, who want to reach our audience. And if you think about in the context of media, the general media, not [00:07:00] inclusive. Negatively portrays Muslims. I think it's something like 69% of articles in mainstream media portray Muslims in a negative light. There's all these very damning stats.

Nafisa Bakkar: What that does, it slowly infiltrates what you think of yourself, your own confidence, your own identity, and so we just knew that there needed to be a space. That existed for Muslim women. And I always say I, I was naive enough to think I could build it. And today, you know, like for example, we have a book club that happens every month.

Nafisa Bakkar: And I think for me, the book club is the epitome of what Amaliah is. Incredibly diverse, intelligent women, ages 18 to 40. It's their safe space of being able to talk, of being able to discuss books, loads of different opinions. You know, we have loads of articles. We've had so many people that have messaged us over the years and said, because of Amaliah, for example, I was able to ask for a prayer space because it's that confidence and identity, right?

Nafisa Bakkar: And I feel like a lot of people [00:08:00] of color have a crisis in confidence, which is what we spoke about, because there's no space for them to build their full self. We're constantly within white spaces, which can make you feel very unseen, which we know, you know, within workplaces there are penalties on different groups of people.

Nafisa Bakkar: And so I just think for this community it was really important to have some sort of infrastructure. That is just for them. 

Amardeep Parmar:And  it's incredible like how diverse Amaliah is now. Right. You said there's articles, book clubs, podcasts, everything. But like when you started out, like what was the vision?

Amardeep Parmar: Because did you pivot, was there any places where you thought this is what Amaliah was gonna be and then now it's ended up some completely different. How's that journey been? 

Nafisa Bakkar: So we actually started as fashion site. Um, and this was when I was in uni, I realized that there was a clear need for Muslim women who wanted to look good and wanted to cover.

Nafisa Bakkar: Right? And at the time it was like 2015, the Muslim pound was a big thing. Modest fashion was worth $300 [00:09:00] billion, blah, blah. So timing was really good on our side. And I was like, okay, we need a curated place to make it easier to shop. Right? And so that's what was the first version of what I built when I learned to code, and that's what we raised money off as well.

Nafisa Bakkar: And then we had a blog, and the blog was doing really well, and we'd have like all sorts of Muslim women saying, oh, can I write? And we were just doing the blog as like content marketing to push to, to buy clothes. And then it was one of our investors who was like, you are a media company. And we were like, what do you mean?

Nafisa Bakkar: I, I didn't know what media was. I didn't know how you make money from me. I didn't know anything about that industry. And he was like, you are a media company and the way you can make money is working with brands. And I'm still like, don't get it. Why would they wanna spend with us? And then, so the summer of 2017, so we raised money in the summer of 2016.

Nafisa Bakkar: We were like, yeah, this like blog is taken of a lot. Let's flip it. Like let's make it immediate company with a bit of [00:10:00] fashion. So we did that and then we, our first client was eBay, and this guy, this VP at eBay called me and he was like, um, hey, I'd love to like fly you out to California. Talk to our CEO and our senior leadership team.

Nafisa Bakkar: We'd love to understand more about this audience, about modest fashion, about what we should be doing, how we can improve our offering. How much would you charge? And I'm like, this guy's got the wrong person, but right, a couple grand and then he's like, I actually had more budget, so I'm gonna double it for you.

Nafisa Bakkar: And I was like, okay. I just thought it's a fluke. Right? It's one of those like exciting startup things that happen and then you get back to like writing blog and then it just kept happening. Like brands kept coming to us and saying, hey, we want to, like Dov came to us and said, we wanna talk about body confidence and self-esteem, and we know that that conversation will have different, happen differently for your audience versus our Latin American 

Nafisa Bakkar: audience. And so then we just realized, okay, [00:11:00] brands want to talk to this audience. We're essentially the gatekeeper to this brand. We got to start doing some really exciting work and just understanding how you make money, how you then invest that money to into your audience. For example, putting on book clubs, events, podcasts, things like that.

Nafisa Bakkar: Um, and yeah, it just you know happened, happened from that of like understanding, okay, we are media and this is what a media business model looks like. 

Amardeep Parmar: How is  that adjustment in terms of, we'll say scaling, right? Because it's a mindset shift you have to go through there, right? From like, I don't, do I belong in these spaces to now we'll talk to eBay and I'll talk to these guys.

Amardeep Parmar: Now we're gonna scale. We're getting at millions of views per month. What kind of mindset shifts did you have go through? What lessons did you learn along that way that made you more effective? 

Nafisa Bakkar: I think one of the biggest things was the realization that no one actually knows what they're doing 

Amardeep Parmar: and from this podcast, right, that's what biggest lesson I've learned.

Nafisa Bakkar: No one's making up 

Amardeep Parmar: Even into 180 people. Right? It doesn't matter how big you are, you'll eat, you all sleep. Everybody else is like, 

Nafisa Bakkar: and I, I [00:12:00] remember it was like month one, after we raised money, we'd made 15,000 in revenue from selling clothes, right? I remember speaking to someone who was on the board of another company who's raised millions, and she was like, oh, how's it going?

Nafisa Bakkar: And I was like, oh, you know, we made 15 K in revenue this, this month. Which you know, is good, but I dunno how to repeat it. I dunno what we did. Right? Like I, you know, how'd you build a business if you dunno how to do it again? Right? And then she was like, Nafisa, let me tell you something. And I was like, what?

Nafisa Bakkar: And she was like, you know, the company I'm on, the company she's on the board of, she's like, you're making more revenue than them. She's like, so don't be so hard on yourself. And I think what I started realizing is talking to more founders, talking to more people. Things may look shiny on the outside, but you open the car bonnet and everything's popping off, you know?

Amardeep Parmar: Yeah.

Nafisa Bakkar: And I think I realized, and that's why I started thinking, don't believe the hype. Because even at that time, like we were being in, [00:13:00] we were in the guardian C N N, CNBC,  B B C, we were like covered by all sorts of media and I was like, we don't even know what we are doing, but our story's all out there.

Nafisa Bakkar: And, and that's where I started realizing like, you have to be able to understand what is hype. And what is actual business success. And that's where you just have to learn to focus and be like, what are the things that are actually going to build this business? What do I need to focus on? And so in terms of like that, focus shift is literally every month saying what's working, what's not working, what should we continue doing, what's not working?

Nafisa Bakkar: And I think in business you have to have a lot of self-awareness to be really honest with the reality of what's happening. And you know, we were talking a bit about this before of like. We'll see people on Forbes and we'll see people you know, who look like they're doing the most. But when it comes to actual business success and metrics, you're like, hmm, not sure that it all adds up.

Nafisa Bakkar: Right. And so I think especially in this era of like business people, [00:14:00] low-key looking like influencers and things like that, it's really important to just really focus on what is the business telling you? Is it actually working? Do you actually have a model here? And for us, Proper focus came when I said to us ourselves, we are gonna make a 100K in this year.

Nafisa Bakkar: I instantly, I didn't have to learn anything new. I just had to focus. I, I said no to loads of things. I said yes to the things that get us closer. We ended up making a100 k from one partnership, and then that was what I call like, you know, you have like the Cowboy 100 K, and then you have the real a 100K.

Nafisa Bakkar: The Cowboy a 100K is a 100k. You make. Just by, you know, doing it, flying to California and doing this and doing that and doing this little thing here and stuff like that. The real a 100k, which builds a real business is when you know you can repeat it and find it again, right? 

Amardeep Parmar:Yeah. 

Nafisa Bakkar:So now that's where we're at of like, we know how we make [00:15:00] money, we know what our business model is, we are very clear on who our client is.

Nafisa Bakkar: Like that very specific description of who your client is, which I've found successful businesses can take exactly buys from them. So yeah, focus was a, was a, was a trial and error process to be honest. 

Amardeep Parmar: It's interesting as well, because say, one of the things I'm doing, I mentioned earlier, like I'm intentionally not making as much money this year.

Amardeep Parmar: Because I've done well in the past and I'm now investing that into something which I wanna have that long term vision. And I think what's really important, like you said, is understanding your focus. If like your focus like, okay, a 100K this year. There's a lot of things you can do to make that.

Amardeep Parmar: And what I find sometimes happens is that people, like you say, get distracted and you've got to adjust your goals based on how many distractions you wanna have. Like if you wanna be distracted, that's great, but then don't say, oh, I'm wanna make a 100K. Or like, get disappointed yourself. Right?

Amardeep Parmar: It's going to, it's that self-awareness. You've got to know, okay, I'm gonna make less money this year or more money this year because I'm gonna focus on, not focus on different things. And I think it's very hard for people to do that. They, they set themselves a target, but then they also wanna dabble in these different things.

Amardeep Parmar: And [00:16:00] there is a lot of hard work involved when gonna found, and there's different things. And a lot of it's focus can you spend your time in the right areas? And that's where you scale, right? Like if you're doing it, like you said, your target audience, do youexactly nail it down? And. Uh, one thing you obviously did very well is that because you know your target audience very well, you know, like your value proposition, you've talked to different industries and for some people they try to do it too early.

Amardeep Parmar:. And so you've got to actually talk to the people in your target audience. You've got to like learn from them first before you do anything more and during this period as well, you also bought Halal Gems. What was the reason behind that decision? 

Nafisa Bakkar: I talked about Amaliah's like infrastructure and Halal gems is all about food, lifestyle, eating out things to do, and I knew Zora the founder well, and I kind of like

Nafisa Bakkar: planted a bit of a seed and I was like, Zora, it makes sense for us to like do something together. And then there was a period of time [00:17:00] where she was like, yeah, I'm, I'm thinking about what the next steps are. Things like that 'cause I, I really raised Zora. I really respect her and I really love working with people who are

Nafisa Bakkar: very competent and very high, like values and integrity. Then we just, we had a couple of conversations over a period of time and we were like trying to figure out, okay, does this make sense? What would happen? Things like that. Um, and it just made sense for Amaliah, who is a leading media company for Muslim women to then expand into, they've got mixed audience.

Nafisa Bakkar: Think of them as like the timeout for Muslims. So very complimentary to what we were doing. They run a food festival as well, and so we, we took it on, we bought, we acquired it, went through all the legal paperwork and stuff like that. And then we ran the food festival as well, which was like an unbelievable experience because, my, I understand online and offline is mad.

Nafisa Bakkar: Yeah. You know, three days, 90,000 [00:18:00] people, 30 food and drink traders. You know, you've got an electricity bill, which is five 5K. You've got a cleaning bill, which is four 4K. Like, it's, it's, it's crazy, you know? So, that for us was a very strategic thing of like, it makes sense to sit complimentary to this brand.

Nafisa Bakkar: And then for example, last year, um, in Ramadan, we worked with Uber Eats. And so it's like, okay, well you can buy some media on Aamaliah and then you can buy some media on Halal gems 'cause we're already selling in this audience to agencies. And so you've essentially got another brand to also sell in. 

Amardeep Parmar: And the post that I actually decided to acquire, right, because

Amardeep Parmar: that's a big decision. Right? How did you find that decision? Was it something that just felt so natural and such a good fit?

Nafisa Bakkar: Firstly, for me, like the values of someone is really important and I really, really resonated with Zora and Raman’s values, who were running the company. And so that was my starting point is like, are these good [00:19:00] people that run this business?

Nafisa Bakkar: Because I think that counts for a lot 'cause you're going into business with these people, even though you are acquiring your, they're still gonna be, you know, consulting, things like that. And then secondly, it was kind of like a, why not? Like, you know, like that, that thing of, I, I think I grew into my ambition and I grew into my confidence, and this was part of that.

Nafisa Bakkar: This was like a, yeah, peop ,other people do it, why can't we, you know? 

Amardeep Parmar:  Yeah. 

Nafisa Bakkar:  And so I, I think it, it was, it, it felt very right. I'm a very much like, go by your gut feel. And it felt very right. We spoke, I spoke to like one of my, a couple of my investors, I spoke to other people. I often like will make a decision and then try and seek as much sound boarding and advice and be like, look, rip it, like tell me if it's, you know, and so it all sort of was aligning and I was like, yeah, this is a good decision for us.

Nafisa Bakkar: So, yeah. 

Amardeep Parmar: And what have you enjoyed most about taking Halal gems on? Is it the in-person events or what, what's the kind of experience you've had that really stand out to you?

Nafisa Bakkar: For [00:20:00] me, it's really being able to have just a platform that's dedicated to enjoyment, fun, and, and going out 'cause I think sometimes with, when you're building something for minority audiences, especially media, it can sometimes feel, you know, when your contrast is, oh, media,

Nafisa Bakkar: isn't very nice to this audience? It can feel like you're doing quite a heavy job. And I just love the, the lightness of, of halal gems. Like when we talk about ideas and things for that, we were like, oh, we'd love to do a series where we take people's mom, people take their moms to restaurants that are from their culture, and then we basically get their mom to rate

Nafisa Bakkar: the restaurant. Yeah. But I, I just like the, the lightness and the fun and I think sometimes when you are doing something with a marginalized audience in mind, you can very much, get caught [00:21:00] up in the stuff that isn't fun. And, and what I mean by that is like, I remember reading a magazine and it was, I can't remember, it was one of the like Sunday inserts or whatever, and the magazine, the guy had written about how

Nafisa Bakkar: his, this was a four page spread. I remember it so vividly. And he had written about how his Uber rating as a passenger was 4.6 and how he jumped into an Uber and the driver was like, oh, have you vomited in a car before or have you like left  Uber's waiting and da da. And this guy's like, no, no, no. Like why?

Nafisa Bakkar: What's going on? And he's like, why is you rating 4.6? And he's like, why is that low? He's like, yeah, like it should be 4.8. And the whole article is about this guy going on a journey of trying to understand why his Uber ratings 4.6. And I read that and I was like, bro like, that's where I wanna be, where I can just write wherever the heck I want.

Nafisa Bakkar: And just, it doesn't have to be tied to our [00:22:00] identity. It doesn't have to be heavy. 'cause you know, you see a lot in media of like, as a Muslim woman, as a brown man, as a da, da da da, you know? And that's the only lens through which we can see the world. And we are allowed to enter into lots of different spaces.

Nafisa Bakkar: So I love that with Halal gems. Yes, of course. There's a lens of like, it's for a Muslim audience, Halal, things like that. But ultimately it's about how do we have fun and enjoyment, basically. 

Amardeep Parmar: And one of the things you said about the media as well, right? The next thing you've got your book. 

Nafisa Bakkar:  Yeah. 

Amardeep Parmar: And why was it this, the story you wanted to tell?

Amardeep Parmar: Why was it so important to you? 

Nafisa Bakkar: So my publisher actually came to me a couple of times before this book. The first time I was like, hmm, it's too early. I haven't learned enough. In business, it would just be like, it'll be, it'll be more beneficial for me rather than for the reader. And then the second time I was like, mm, not really interested in what the like theme was.

Nafisa Bakkar: And then the third time I was like, do you know what it was post pandemic? I was like, I've learned quite a bit. We're still here, you know? Most [00:23:00] businesses die after five years. So I was like, we're doing something and I felt like I had learned such an incredible amount, and for me it was that cliche of like, I wrote the book that I wish I had when I was starting out, and so the book for me, what was really important is that it held its own ground as a business book.

Nafisa Bakkar: It's not a book for women, it's not a book written by a woman of color. Of course, that lens is in there. But if you go into like Waterstones and stuff, you don't see people like us on the business shelves in particular. 

Amardeep Parmar:Yeah. 

Nafisa Bakkar:  Go in and you'll find it. Hard pressed to find someone who's not a white man, and I knew that I had loads of experience of building a business that was not like I didn't have any

Nafisa Bakkar: industry knowledge. I didn't have any capital. I didn't have a rich uncle to give me 200k. I didn't have a network, I didn't have the skills. I literally, we, I literally was just like, yeah, I, I just wanna do this. [00:24:00] And I think there are so many people like that, and I see business as a really incredible vehicle for transformation.

Nafisa Bakkar: What it asks of you as a founder and a person is unbelievable. What it can do for you as a person. Unbelievable. What you can do for others in terms of once you've built a business, whether it's you know, for Muslim women or whatever the business is. I love, love business, and I just loved that I had the opportunity to sit down and think, what is it that I think about business and what I really wanted

Nafisa Bakkar: the book to to do is, you know, the title's a bit tongue in cheek. It's how to make money. Because, you know, you get all these like eBooks, millionaire mindsets being like, you know, comment like ready and you'll get my six figure ebook. And I kind of wanted to play off that because once you open the book, you see 16 chapters that are really honest, right?

Nafisa Bakkar: And they're honest. And I talked to loads of different founders. I talked to like the founder, Shazam. I talked to the founder of [00:25:00] Chicken Cottage because you know, Shazam is a story that is well documented, got acquired for 400 million by Apple, you know, built something way ahead of their time. One of those like rockstar Hall of Fame stories.

Nafisa Bakkar: And then you've got Uncle Car who started Chicken Cottage after working for K F C. He came as a Pakistani immigrant. He was like, do you know what? We need a Halal version of this. Now we take for granted Halal chicken shops. But Uncle Khaled was, he was the original boss man, 

Amardeep Parmar: OG yeah. 

Nafisa Bakkar: Yeah. And I wanted to really thread in those stories because I think businesses are started by people from all sorts of backgrounds.

Nafisa Bakkar: And I wanted to understand why. And the, the reason why is because, business is basically just asking a series of questions. How do I build a com, media company? How do I make money from it? How do I hire well, how do I create content? How do I get content sponsored for a chicken shop? How do I get a lease?

Nafisa Bakkar: How do I find suppliers? You know? 

Amardeep Parmar: Yeah. 

Nafisa Bakkar: And the reason why it's so many diverse people [00:26:00] that start businesses is because we all just ask different questions. Right? And those different, we are constantly asking, I'm still, I'm asking questions now, right? I am asking questions of like, what do we wanna achieve in the next five years?

Nafisa Bakkar: What's the big thing we wanna do, et cetera, et cetera. And so I was just really obsessed with making sure that people understand that there isn't one size that fits all in terms of who starts a business, which is what I thought when I started out. I was like, I'm not like these guys. I'm not this tech bro.

Nafisa Bakkar: Like how can I do it? And there is a methodology there is, I, above all of it, it's a mindset and no one can teach you that mindset. You either really wanna do it and you are gonna go through the pain and, and the struggle of it or you're not. Right? And so it isn't for everyone, but it is for more people than we  think it is.

Amardeep Parmar: One of the interesting things you brought up there as well about how to both first front organizations that are about a specific niche. And I intentionally, when I was coming through this world, tried not to niche down into like ethnicity or anything like that. But what I realized is so many people then who reached out to me are from that same [00:27:00] ethnicity.

Amardeep Parmar: And I always had this problem of like, I never saw as, I'm not gonna do something 'cause nobody who looks like me, who's done it. But such a huge thing for so many people. And. I think what's important for a lot of people is you can focus on both sides. Where you can do both serving your community, both in even beyond that, right?

Amardeep Parmar: Because your lessons aren't as valuable only to Muslim women. They're valuable to everybody else as well and I think it's important for some people to step up and believe, like, yes, the people in my circle trust me, but also I have value to give. People from any background, like white men, wherever they are, all across the world, right?

Amardeep Parmar: People can get value from your book. And how is that step for you?

Nafisa Bakkar: Um, so the other day I got an email from this guy in Canada and he was like, I'm a 69 year old white male, and I've, I've written, I've read your book. And I was like, God, sometimes I feel like our generation over egg being a victim of our identity, and I think that actually intellectually stunts us [00:28:00] because then what you create, what you do, what you are

Nafisa Bakkar: sits within that book. And I see this particularly in books and publishing, right, of like, and it's not just us, it's also the white gaze of what white people want to commission. We, we, they need us to sit neatly in the identity box, which is why when I talked about the Uber article, it's like that was nothing to do with this identity.

Nafisa Bakkar: So I think it's difficult because we are constantly boxed in, like you know, it would be a dream for publishers to have my book, you know, branded as the the South Asian girl boss. Right? But I intentionally wanted it to be almost agnostic of like, this is a business book and it happens to be written by Muslim woman of color.

Nafisa Bakkar: And so I think sometimes when you find yourself in that place, in that dynamic, you have to really fight through and be like, is my identity lens important here and is it the thing I need to, to lean forward with?

Amardeep Parmar: And then like final question in your book is, is there a chapter which obviously you've done so many interviews that people always ask you the same [00:29:00] questions.

Amardeep Parmar: What's a chapter you don't get to talk about enough that you'd like to highlight?

Nafisa Bakkar: It's the chapter called How to Get Really Good at Sales because so many people. Close up at the thought of sales when ultimately sales is the life and blood of a company. I am an introvert. I used to, I like cringed at the concept of sales

Nafisa Bakkar: 'cause I thought of like a sleazy car salesman. And then I realized actually there is a way to sell that is aligned to your personality type, to how you want to do business, not how you think you should do business and so I think a lot of people are missing out on making money purely because they dunno how to get really good at sales.

Amardeep Parmar: And if you've got like one tip, you can drop us.

Nafisa Bakkar: The biggest tip, especially if you're starting out and you're not sure how you're gonna make money, is really listen. Listen to what the potential client or customer's saying, because sales is then responding to that, you know, they have a hope and you are basically saying, I can solve that hope or need.

Nafisa Bakkar: And you only know the hope and need if you really listen to what they're [00:30:00] saying and what their hope is. So yeah, it's about almost like the art of conversation.

Amardeep Parmar: And, and one of the things we are gonna do now, me and my co-founder, is we're just gonna talk to random Asian people on the street. We're like, Hey, we've got this thing that we're doing about this, this, and this.

Amardeep Parmar: Like, What do you think of it? Like what, what's something that you need? What's something good where you can deliver? And I think sometimes people don't like to do those kind of conversations, but if you don't know, you didn't talk to your target audience. 

Nafisa Bakkar: Once we get the learning.

Amardeep Parmar: Yeah.

Nafisa Bakkar: Yeah. 

Amardeep Parmar: Yeah. But we're gonna have to move on to quickfire questions.

Amardeep Parmar: I could talk forever and they're with you. So the first one is, who are three British Asians that you'd love to shout out, you think who are doing incredible work? 

Nafisa Bakkar: Zara from Delicious, who is a skincare brand, started in the pandemic. Love her. Shazia Saleem, who is OG because she started the first Halal Ready Meals in Sainsbury's.

Nafisa Bakkar: This is like 10 years ago and she now is, you might know Nala's Skincare from Crept. She was behind that. Just love her. Incredible. So values led. And then my final one, I'm gonna say Saima Khan, founder of Hampstead [00:31:00] Kitchen. She used to work for Warren Buffet and then she started her own private bespoke luxury dining catering business.

Nafisa Bakkar: And her story's really incredible. 

Amardeep Parmar: Awesome. Yeah, so it's three people I haven't heard of as well, which I love, 'cause I sometimes you hear this, you hear same names. Like it's always good when I hear like new people that I can go and check out and like learn from as well. Second question is, If people listen right now, want to reach out to you, what should they reach out to you about?

Nafisa Bakkar: Reach out to me about something specific you need help or advice on when it comes to building a business, starting an idea. You know, if you're in that struggle phase of like, it just feels too hard and it shouldn't feel this hard. So yeah, I'm always open and read my book as well. 

Amardeep Parmar: And or  I guess on the flip side, what's something you need to help with right now?

Nafisa Bakkar: So I really want to start doing a lot more things offline. Um, a lot more events. So people who wanna collaborate, people who wanna sponsor events, um, all things events basically. [00:32:00] 

Amardeep Parmar: Perfect. And then, so great to have you on today. Have you got any final words for the 

Nafisa Bakkar: audience if you are sitting on an idea or sitting on like a life decision?

Nafisa Bakkar: My final thing would be, always make, try and make a decision from a place of hope, not from a place of fear. Because usually when you make it from a place of hope, it eventually turns out okay. When you make it from a place of fear, it's usually not always what you really wanna do.

Amardeep Parmar: Hello. Hello everyone. Thank you so much for listening. It means  a huge amount to us and we don't think you realize how important you are. Because if you subscribe to our YouTube channel, if you leave us a five star review, it makes the world of difference. And if you believe in what we're trying to do here to inspire, connect, and guide the next generation of British Asians, if you do those things, you can help us achieve that mission and you can help us make a bigger impact.

Amardeep Parmar: And by doing that, it means we can get bigger guests, we can host more events, we can do more for the [00:33:00] community. So you can play a huge part. So thank you so much for supporting us.