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5 MINUTES WITH | HOMMA AND SHEREEN | SILQUE CO

Tell us about your business, what makes it unique?

As two besties who struggled with wearing the hijab cap day in/day out, we created the first tube silk lined hijab cap, with an open/close mechanism, and anti slip features. All these features were something we wished existed in a hijab cap growing up. 

How did your business idea or concept come about?

As two women who wear a hijab cap day in/day out, we knew the struggles hijabi women faced with wearing a cotton hijab cap; from the effects of friction, dryness, [to] pinning the back of the cap, and slippage. It all started over 18 months ago, when we became fascinated with the benefits our silk pillow cases had on our hair and skin, and we thought, “Wow! We wish this existed in a hijab cap”. So we went on a hunt for silk lined hijab caps, and we just couldn't find one that worked for us. They were either lined with polyester satin (not real silk), or a very low percentage of silk, or the fit was just not right, or the lining did not reach the hairline. So we gave up searching and thought we probably just have to wait till someone makes a better one. We never thought it would be us, I mean we're both optometrists and have no background in design. 

One day Homma was like, “You know I did a sewing class in high school? I've got a sewing machine stored in my dad's garage somewhere, maybe we can try making one for ourselves?” That's when it hit us, that if it wasn't going to be us, then who? If not now, then when? So we dusted [off] the sewing machine, bought some fabric from Spotlight, and the rest is history. 

What has been the biggest challenge or lesson you have learned in business?

Our biggest challenge with our startup was having to deal with the ripple effects COVID-19 had on supply and delays. What would normally take one month, was now taking six months, and that really affected how fast we could get the product to the customer. Most customers have been understanding and we thank them for trusting in us! We also had to conduct our meetings and trial of samples at the park due to lockdown restrictions. At one stage we were holding sheets around each other at the park to change into the different hijab cap samples we had made. 

The other challenge was not being prepared to get the large volume of orders we had. We were hand sewing a section in our products thinking it was doable as a new business and that we'd probably only get a few orders a day, but we literally received over 100 orders on the first day we launched pre-orders, so we were doing all-nighters to hand sew every single Silqap. However, we had to learn from that and pivot our production process for our next drop. 

What aspects of building a business have gone how you expected and what is something that was unexpected?

We would say the unexpected outweighs the expected by far. While we expected people to like our product; because we were obsessed with it ourselves, we did not expect it to go viral in the very early pre-launch phase. We were also aware of COVID-19 delays, however we did not expect it to that extent. Some aspects of our business were delayed over six months due to the second wave of Omicron.

On the other hand, having done multiple group assignments throughout our 6 years of uni & honours research together, as two besties, we expected to vibe off each other, work smoothly together, and bring out the best of each other for the business. 

As a successful business owner, what is the one best piece of advice you would give to young entrepreneurs?

You can't be everything to everyone, so focus on your niche and what makes your brand stand out. It's OK to make mistakes, it's OK to slow down or take a break, but NEVER stop. Stay authentic to yourself and your brand. Ignore the haters, be transparent with your customers and build that trust relationship with them!

What are your business goals for 2022?

We hope to empower every woman who wears or wants to wear the hijab, and women in general by giving them better hair care options, and the best hijab undercap.

Tell us about your earliest skincare memory.

I remember when I accidentally discovered the wonders of using a facial moisturiser when I raided my mum's makeup drawer as a young teenager. I was literally blown away with how my skin glowed the next day. Fast forward to today, I live by 6-8 step skincare routine that I never skip no matter what. 

What does having a skincare routine mean to you?

Having a skincare routine makes us feel confident, and appreciate the beauty of our own skin. It is arguably one of the most important daily routines that we will never skip. It is more than wanting to have good skin and feel good. With our busy & stressful lives, it reminds us to take 5-10 min to be kind to our bodies, and how important and recharging self care can be.

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