A precious afternoon… as PRECIOUS Award Winners!

A year ago, I attended the Precious Awards at the British Library as I wanted to attend and support an event for women of colour. At that time Sumana and I were a year into research and had only met our designer a month earlier. Things were up and down and we were fuelled by belief.

Picture a year later, at the same awards at the plush environment of the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel. Sumana and I are back, this time with a fabulous team and as finalists for Start-up Business of the Year. The only similarity to last year was that inspirational Foluke was still doing her thing in giving a platform to women of colour in business to shine and team belief was still the fuel!

Our category arrives and the winner is announced and it is us! Great feeling. My rock and best friend, Sumana and I walk up hand in hand to be rewarded for living on belief and never being swayed.

The next hour is full of the success of women of colour in variety of industries. It is now nearly the end and the last speaker is last year’s winner of the Entrepreneur of the Year award, as that was the next award being introduced.

I am now sitting there thinking who in all the really established businesses in that room would win? There were so many women in the room who were worthy. So when the winners were announced it took a few seconds to understand what had been said…

“Sadia and Sumana winners of Entrepreneur of the Year 2011!” We were winners of the biggest award of the day!!! My friend and I were the overall winners!!!”

My friend.  The person who stuck her neck out and believed in me without hesitating for a second. The friend who in January when my mum had a stroke, cared for her as much as I did everyday whilst she held down a full-time job and I focused full-time on beingU and my new found role as carer.

For 8 months of this year we were in the design, production marketing and pre-launch phases for our business. Money was tight. We sat through endless sleepless nights working. The result of that is now I have more hours in the night to sleep, although I cannot sleep for more than 3/4 hours. We really only had each other to turn to and the worse days were the ones we both saw no hope in continuing and there was no one to prop the other up.

Despite all this we got a collection together and launched to trade in UK in August and the last few months have been so worth the hard times and we are ready for whatever is ahead. As we both know that there is nothing, absolutely nothing we cannot achieve. To be honest we have always thought that in whatever venture we pursue.

All that is well and good but without us getting a team around us nothing would have been done, no matter how much respect and belief we had for and in each other. So to get us here I have to say “thank you” to a large group whose professionalism and absolute belief in us has been the reason we got these awards. So in no particular order -

Thank you for making our start of the journey easier to Igor Pacemski who was our first contact in the industry, Mark Byrom, who introduced us to Igor, Pink Frog Design and Rubbercheese.

Thank you to our staunch believers who make our every days happen and work – Debbie Sim, Clare Rayner, our Retail Consultant, Sue Blake my Strategic PR and all round Coach, David Finlayson our Sales Agent, Jamal Merdassi and Tessa Carr from My Design Company, Chris Wheeler and Daphne from  Imago Creations and Didier Desmedt from Vog Lingerie.

If I listed all our family and friends who have supported us this would be the end of my blogging career as this would be the longest blog ever! So spanning the UK to Massachusetts, New York across to Canada, Sierra Leone and India – Thank You. You know who you are and we tell you everyday what your support and love has done for us whilst we embark on this project.

Now in any team everyone works really hard to get where the team needs to be but there are some who just give and give unconditionally and today just saying “thank you” does not quite say it to Bok Goodall and Sherece Rainford. For the last three months Sumana and I no longer have sleepless nights on our own, we have company. We have these two who believe so much in us that sometimes we wonder if they are talking about other people. I am going to hold on to these two so much as without them at the moment we would be a poorer place as the energy, joy and passion they bring everyday makes them everything we stand for – phenomenal women.

I now end before I win award for longest, thank you speech ever by saying a big Thank you to Foluke at PRECIOUS Awards again for giving all those incredibly talented women a platform on the 27 October 2011 to showcase their courage and inspire others who may be thinking of running their own business.


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