Business Magazine

Interview with Artist Thajba Najeeb

Posted on the 26 May 2016 by Andreaantal @andreaeantal

That's a difficult question for someone who's still trying to figure it out! What I can tell you is, I am Thajba Najeeb, a Bahraini with very proud Pakistani roots, and have been told on many occasions that I am an artist. I don't see myself as one though, as I don't really like the stigma that is often attached to titles. Gustav Klimt was a true artist. To share that designation is a bit daunting!

WHAT MOTIVATED & INSPIRED YOU TO START YOUR BUSINESS?

The need for space. Working at home around my kids and husband was great in theory, but I found it difficult to let my creative juices flow and grow as an artist. That's when I decided to open my art studio. I joined forces with my sister and welcomed friends to share this outlet to de-stress and paint freely. It's a space to create, explore and share my love of art. Eventually, kids started joining in the fun, so we created age-based classes and workshops, and before we knew it, we were catering to over 100 children and adults each week!

TELL US ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS?

Artology is a space where art happens - an outlet for creative expression. We teach, explore, discover, educate, describe, love and create art. It's important to me that my students feel that this is their space - not mine. My sister, Reem, and I created this space to be totally uninhibited; an environment where one was not judged and art was not measured simply by skill, but also by passion, concept and drive.

WHAT WERE THE FIRST FEW STEPS YOU TOOK TO GET YOUR BUSINESS UP AND RUNNING?

In a nutshell, it was an emotional roller coaster ride. While most of our friends and family were extremely positive and unwavering in their unconditional support, we did have naysayers who made us weary of our actions and very aware of the possibility of failure. It involved confusion and anxiety that somehow levelled out to an odd sense of calmness, and then an explosion of excitement! With our vision firmly in place, we were ready to open the doors of Artology. We started with an investment of BD200 (approx. USD500), one meeting, five students, and loads of passion.

From a financial perspective, we are now in the process of opening our commercial space - an urban studio. The biggest challenge for this new endeavour was creating a formal business plan. We concentrated on dealing with finances, looking at breaking even, profits, and having a longer term vision - our five-year plan. We scheduled internal meetings and then external ones with Tamkeen and the Bahrain Development Bank (BDB), where we presented our proposal. Many sleepless nights and days riddled with stress resulted in amazing news - we were chosen to use the represented commercial initiative launched by BDB.

WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST EFFECTIVE WAY OF RAISING AWARENESS OF YOUR BUSINESS AND GETTING NEW CUSTOMERS?

We've had amazing response through the cheapest, friendliest and effective way of advertising - word of mouth.

We also use FAB magazine, Instagram, Facebook and third-party blogs. Social media has been a great catalyst for our business. Working with charities, partnering with important causes, newspaper and magazine articles, and self-promotion have also been extremely important vehicles in raising awareness for our brand.

WHAT HAVE BEEN YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGES SO FAR WITH RUNNING YOUR BUSINESS?

Our biggest challenge is 'the next big thing' opening up next door. We have had friendly competition with studios opening up in our area, offering similar classes, studio sessions, and workshops with similar pricing models. Initially, we were a little afraid, but as time went on, our students and their parents remained loyal, which helped to boost our confidence and accept healthy competition. In fact, it gives us a kick-start every time we become a little too relaxed.

HOW DID YOU OVERCOME THESE CHALLENGES?

We didn't overcome them. They are always present and we accept it. This competition is a wake-up call for us to excel at what we are good at and push new boundaries.

WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT RUNNING YOUR OWN BUSINESS?

Whoever said I would be able to rock up to work on my own schedule was a liar. I don't have the simple freedom to start and finish whenever I please. We run regimented classes and sessions, but this is my passion, which blurs the line between work and play. We have fun, learn, teach, discuss, create, explore and spread love and positive vibes.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHER ENTREPRENEURS?

Dear entrepreneurs: Don't give up! Face your challenges head-on, and remember that we need to grow. Don't only consume yourself with financial growth, but reflect on your personal, technical and physical goals.

HOW DO YOU KEEP MOTIVATED THROUGH DIFFICULT TIMES?

Travel. Being able to switch off and take some time away can be very healing. I enjoy attending workshops with other artists who share similar interests, and have thought-provoking conversations that instigate and inspire creativity.

DO YOU HAVE A BUSINESS PHILOSOPHY?

Nope!


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