My favorite moment of the month has finally arrived:)
Today I’m delighted to introduce you all to a Pakistani mother artist and an amazing jewelry designer Ifrah Shahid Khurram, currently residing and successfully running a jewelry designing business with a name of “American Diamonds”, in Canada.
Ifrah fine tuned her art skills through Home Economics college and got married just after she completed her graduation. After a career break of 4 years, with two adorable daughters and a supporting life partner she managed to bring herself back in to the world of creativity by following her passion for arts and design. She has also been featured in SheCanada as a shepreneur of the month. Lets have a little chit chat with the designer and explore the ebb and flow of her success story.
Hi Ifrah, how are you doing? please brief us about yourself, work and your family?
Hello dear moms! I’m good Alhumdullilah. I am Ifrah, a busy mom of two beautiful girls, ages 9 and 5. I’m Home Economics graduate and solely run a jewelry designing business with a name of “American Diamonds” in Canada. I love to play with colors and shapes to create and customize pieces of adornment. Today we are one of the best jewelry brands serving Pakistani and Indian communities in Canada, featuring designer formal and bespoke bridal jewelry, Alhumdullillah.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I belong to a typical Pakistani family where dad wants you to be a doctor and mom wants you to learn cooking. So naturally I imagined myself as a doctor when I grew up. Though in my spare moments I would mostly find myself either painting or hunched over some craft project that I had either picked up from kids time on TV or created on my own. Now when I think of it, I even used to split up some of my earrings in to pieces to re-create a more originative one; an ornament that I could claim my imagination and ingenuity on.
When did you explore yourself as an artist?
Like I mentioned I have been super crafty throughout my childhood but viewed at my creativity as a hobby and never thought of taking it as a career. Just after I moved to Canada, 3 years after my marriage with a kid and a husband I took off my career in the retail sector. To be honest I enjoyed working there and life seemed content and positive. I came across good deal of opportunities to excel in retail due to my work temperament, perseverance and soft skills that I am blessed with, instinctively.
Life took a small turn after we had our second daughter. Initially, I took off from work and went on maternity leave considering I might join again after things settle down. But with each passing day my confusion between “whether to leave my kids behind for work on days when Dad ‘s home or drop them at day care when we both are at work or shall I quit work and stay at home”, multiplied. Eventually, I chose to stay at home and give my daughters the best early years.
Honestly, it wasn’t as comforting as it seems as I had been quite ambitious and focused throughout my career. While residing away from family and any sort of domestic help, raising kids the proper way and fulfilling household responsibilities simultaneously had been a tough row to hoe. I found some moments to myself as soon as our elder daughter begin her schooling. During those hours I explored multiple avenues of staying busy other than house work. I was certainly in search of a career that would allow me to look after my kids at the same time.
My love for creativity and crafting jewelry hit me back the moment I tried helping a friend market her jewelry to the target customers. I chose the line, thoughtlessly, as I had confidence over my apt abilities and aesthetic sense. With Almighty Allah’s help we kept going and my husband showed constant support and encouragement. Over the course of this adventure we faced deadlocks and losses but sustained ourselves with patience and perseverance.
How being a mom affected you as an artist?
I often found myself at sixes and sevens when I had kids and work to take care of, simultaneously. Time and again felt guilt-ridden and frustrated due to work pressure and household responsibilities. Even thought of quitting like multiple times. During the transition my husband supported me to the fullest, showed me the brighter side of every negativity that popped up in to my head. Gradually kids and I settled down with the routine. I dedicated my vacant hours to my work which were mostly after putting kids to bed, every night. I learned to manage time, home and kids together, my kids learned to co-operate and settled down with mom’s work routine.
My little one has seen me working since the day she started recognizing me as a mom, so she gets along pretty well with my work schedule and I’m happy with it. With the grace of Almighty Allah, our perseverance has helped achieve some of our goals but there is still a long way to go InshaAllah!!
What keeps you inspired to create every day?
Being a designer, I am inspired about the stuff around me. Weather, a flower, a piece of cloth, an animal or even food can click an idea. I’m also in love with Pakistani fashion and mostly I’m looking for inspiration in latest trends and designs.
Which part of the day makes you feel most energetic and driven towards creativity?
I love it when I see a customer proudly wearing a piece of our jewelry with a smile on her face. The unique sense of achievement and satisfaction that comes with being an entrepreneur greatly surpasses all the challenges that come with it.
How do you think your struggle and success as a mom would influence your kids?
I haven’t let go any exhibition where I haven’t taken my kids along. My daughters have always accompanied me with my stalls and display. I believe Parents’ hardships and success leave an everlasting impression on kids. Watching their parents struggle and ultimately succeed won’t let them give up on their own dreams and wishes. They develop their interest in different line of careers from the very young age and learn to cope with disappointments and hardships that follow. At present my daughters wish to be a jewelry designer like their mom, the feeling is absolutely out-of-this-world.
Name one strength that helped you make your mark?
One strength that I always count on is my ability to get along well with people around me. My easy-going temperament and co-operative attitude towards clients has helped me most with my achievements, today.
What is your key to positive energy in challenging situations?
Challenges are inevitable. We have to face them no matter which field we belong to. I have learned that while facing a challenge remember to take a deep breath, roll up your sleeves, dream big, believe in yourself and put forth your best efforts into achieving your desired goals.
Tell us about your latest project?
Currently I am working on our SS19 bridal collection. My inspiration behind it is a “perfect bride.” To me the perfect bride is someone who carries herself with a positive self- image. I want to design sparkling jewels which would celebrate not only the big day, but the bride herself.
Your favorite artists/designers?
Some of the designers I am highly inspired by are, Art by Misbah, Shafaq Habeeb jewelry and Deeya designer jewelry.
Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?
I envision ourselves to have a store front in Canada and expand our delivery services worldwide, as currently we’re catering clients from Canada and U.S. only.
Any advice that you would like to offer to our aspiring mom artists who find it challenging to manage Art career and home together and are mostly on the verge of giving up?
The key to be who you want to be is none other than “Consistency”. While you’re busy working on your dream, unforeseen occurrences put a stumbling block in your way which may delay the process and might as well put a halt to everything you’ave earned while giving your blood, sweat and tears in to.
The phenomenon is natural. The key lies in keeping yourself together and determined. You might face the block repeatedly which may even lead you to disappointments and make you feel like a failure, but once you’re consistent in your plan and actions and keep working on what you’ave started the tides surely turn in your favor.