Born in London, I could probably hear Bow Bells. My parents came from Zanzibar. I feel blessed and inspired by my rich heritage and the strong women who have influenced me. And, by the strength and wisdom of both Grandmothers, neither with a formal education. By my parents who showed amazing courage, moving to and marrying in London 56 years ago, when there was no email, credit cards or iPhones; when there was only one flight every two weeks and no money to buy a ticket. They earned £7 and £9 a week to begin and made their way, doing the best for us, contributing to their community and country and encouraging me, to follow my dreams.
To the horror (ceiling-scraping horror!) of my father, I left school without completing my ‘A’ Levels and went off to study Hairdressing and Beauty Therapy. Anyone who knows Asian families understands, that I was meant to got to university and be a doctor, dentist or pharmacist!
Three years of study later and despite several exam credits and distinctions, I decided I did not want to work in a salon after all. I went to work in a showroom of the beauty supplier, Original Additions. My Father said ‘you are just a sales girl’. Wait! Before you recoil in outrage, I am glad I had a bit of a tiger father and mother. They instilled in us that nothing is too difficult (not even maths), but that we had to apply ourselves with discipline, continue working when others downed tools, compete, be more productive than others and improve on our personal best. We had a toilet roll holder that said, ''Tis better to have tried and failed, than never to have tried at all’. It’s a good lesson and one of the influences, in starting my own business. And, he was upset, that while so many girls around the world cannot have an education, I would ‘waste’ that opportunity that we take for granted in developed countries.
I grafted, ground up through Field Sales, Training, Marketing, Communications, New Product Development until I achieved Executive Management positions with full P&L responsibility. I was part of the team that grew Clinique to the number one position in the UK, after which I established and developed Origins, while General Manager UK/ROI; latterly, Senior Vice President/General Manager for North America, based out of New York City. At Lancôme, I led a retail and consumer focussed drive, to revitalise resonance, sales and profit performance. I was credited by many for their most successful skincare launch (Genefique), in the UK’s recorded history.
After 27 happy and successful years in corporate life, when I could no longer conform to decisions that did not make sense to me or in some cases, align with my values, I decided to pursue my dream. After two and a half years of research and creation, I launched MERUMAYA® on 15th October 2012. In addition I take on Consultancy Projects for retailers, brands, educational institutes.
During that time, I met and married Mike (on the Internet and that’s another story!), was blessed to have a baby girl named Yasmin (it was a natural pregnancy at the age of 48 and followed five miscarriages – another story!), moved house and launched my dream brand. So, if you are wondering if you will ever get your happily ever after, don’t give up; keep believing, constantly visualising and create a positive environment to facilitate your dream - your miracle.
I am honoured to have been recognised and voted by peers as Cosmetic Executive Women’s Achiever of the Year, SpecSavers Everywoman Retail Ambassador, Marie Claire Magazine Mentor and speaker I endeavour to support women (and men) to achieve their entrepreneurial dreams, participating as a speaker and MC, in various industry conferences, universities and other events.
In addition, I am committed to helping women find their (beauty) confidence, to value themselves and to strive for equality for women. In our current environment, where backward steps are being taken in this area, this is more important than ever. As women, we need to lead by example if we are going to raise our daughters to take their place as equals, to feel confident, beautiful, capable, courageous, accomplished and to be supportive or other women. And, to raise our sons, to admire and be comfortable with strong, equal women. #beautyhasnoage #kisstoself are our hashtags. Please feel free to use them and spread the message.
By the way, MERUMAYA® is a made up name, so I really don't mind how you pronounce it; just say it please, to as many people as possible! We really need your help in raising awareness for MERUMAYA®. Made from the first two letters of the names of my father, mother, myself and my sister (now daughter too). It is the name my father would have called his own business, if he’d had the courage to pursue that dream. He chose to protect our future, and us by remaining in his secure job, in the Control Tower at Heathrow Airport. Launching MERUMAYA® brings alive his dream, as well as mine.
Finalist Asian Women of Achievement
Wins. Retail Ambassador
Finalist Mumpreneur StartUps.
Cosmetic Executive Women - Achiever of the Year