It's International Women's Day today! Here at Pink Parcel HQ, we thought it was the perfect opportunity for us to shine a spotlight on one of the many inspiring women we work with.
This month, we have partnered up with artisan chocolate brand Maza, which is run by the lovely Asma Majid who is not only a businesswoman, but a mother-of-two and a part time criminal lawyer.
Here, we talk to the entrepreneur about juggling work with family, women that inspire her and why it's super-important to #BeBoldForChange, from professional goals to periods...
Tell us about how your business began...
"I've always been passionate about what I put into my body, but having a family really sparked that passion – it wasn't just about me anymore. My daughter was turning 14 and I wanted to get her some chocolate as part of her gift. I wanted something that looked really nice but couldn't find anything. The one thing I did find was laden with sugar, which is fine for a treat, but I thought right, there's a challenge, I'm going to try and create that. Once I get an idea I can't let go of it so I researched and through that I learnt about craft chocolate. I bought small, domestic sized equipment, started experimenting in my kitchen and took it from there!"
How do you juggle two careers and family life?
"My Maza chocolate isn't even 12 months old yet, so I'm still working part time as a lawyer. It is quite frantic most days! My husband works away most of the time so I am the present parent, if you like. I think I'm a bit of a glutton for punishment though and I thrive on that. I have one daughter in the middle of her GSCE syllabus and one working towards her 11+, plus all their extra activities, then my job as a criminal lawyer. It's only when they're in bed that I get to do the planning, photography, admin and emails for my business so I work late at night and at weekends. My family are my priority and they always will be – they come first – then everything else just fits around that."
It's International Women's Day! The theme is #BeBoldForChange, when were you bold to make a change?
"I come from an immigrant background, so growing up, pursuing higher education and wanting to be a lawyer was a really bold decision for me. Also being a female in a male dominated profession, raising a family at the same time and to top it off starting my own business all highlight that. As a women, leading by example really motivates me. Having two daughters, I want to pave the way for them and show them that nothing in unachievable, you've just got to work really hard!"
How would you encourage the next generation to be bold for change?
"My number one rule is that anything you have a passion for, you've just got to work really hard. If we deny ourselves the opportunity by saying 'I can't do this' then it's never going to happen. Work to the best of your ability – passionately, honestly and with integrity – and the results will always pay off. Don't let anything stop you because there is always a way."
How can we be bold when it comes to periods?
"I think just talking more. I always suffered really badly with my periods so opening up about it helps. Whether you're educating children or talking to people at work – if it's affecting you or making you feel unwell – it's an unpleasant feeling just like having a headache or a stomach ache and we can talk about that very easily, so I don't understand why we can't just say I'm sorry it's my time of the month and I'm not feeling very well. It's natural and I'm all for talking about it more!"
Have you spoken to your daughter about periods and does she feel confident to speak up?
"I was honest with her, showed her sanitary towels and explained a little but about what happens when you get older, then just said if you have any questions, you can ask me – and she did. It was quite funny, we were in the park one day and she just said very loudly, "Oh mummy, I think I've started my period". She hadn't! Then she just started to drop it in every day conversation. I'd rather be open and talk about it that than it be a taboo. It was completely different at my age. My mum lacked complete confidence talking about it."
Which women inspire you?
"More relevant to my business, in the culinary world, I've always been a fan of Nigella Lawson. I think she's such a wholesome character, she's a mother and a businesswoman – the whole package. Also, Margaret Thatcher for being the first female Prime Minister. Growing up that was really incredible to watch. Whatever someone's political views, it was quite inspiring to see a woman leading the country. I was also a huge fan of Brigitte Bardot – the hair, the lips and the eyeliner. I think I was a teenager when I came across her and was just in awe. I look up to a real eclectic mix of women for different reasons."
Why do think it's important to support International Women's Day?
"Women need to support each other. If we support each other the world would be a better place. We're much stronger together than on our own and I think it's really, really important to have that solidarity amongst women. I think men have it. The legal profession is like an old boy's network and where can we say that women kind of rule, or women are really strong? Not very often can we say that, so it's really important that we all support each other."
Maza is a luxurious chocolate packed full of cacao and free from refined sugar. To buy the delicious bars or find out more, head here: mazachocolate.co.uk
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