From TSL to AA
We made the official move from The Shawl Label (TSL) to AA on my 30th birthday, on the 13th of October 2017. Here's a recollection of moments leading up to the big change.
1. The Beginning of The End
I've known for a while now that I've outgrown the whole "making physical stuff" aspect of TSL. No matter how proud I am to always see ladies wearing our shawls + rocking our apparels, I always feel I could do and serve, more.
Plus, we've also been horrible innovators at shawls. Awesome local brands that we respect and admire have come up with sports hijab / glasses-friendly hijab/ instant hijab (you name it, they've got it!) but we have stood still with our simple 2m x 0.7m shawls, lol.
There were also two things that posed as barriers for me from stopping TSL completely and taking that leap of faith. One was my team. Concerns like "what would Sansan do if we stop sewing stuff?" or "how will we be able to progress towards our new direction with the aim of making a lot more content, with such a small team?"
I thought long and hard about this.
The second was laziness. And to be completely honest, this one paralyzed me more than the former. I was so comfortable with how TSL was doing that I became lazy. I thought, "why change something that is working perfectly well? We always sell out with our launches. We have fun. All's good no?"
Well, not really.
Especially when my heart knew that we could do more.
And if I could point to one particular moment when I knew that the time to grow and evolve has come for TSL, then that would be in late May this year.
We just finished a very successful Eid launch, Alhamdulillah, and Sansan and I had been working crazy hours in the Studio. We had to hire more help that month, and as I sat there, with all the kaftans that we sewed, and the mess, and fabrics everywhere - I asked myself, "where is this going, Aida? Do you see yourself opening physical stores selling clothes and shawls and doing Photoshoots and mailing orders in 5 years time? Are you growing TSL to be a fashion brand? What is your end game?"
And I knew the answer to that. It has been screaming in my heart for a while: that, no, I do not want a fashion label.
But the Sisterhood that we have, the community that we've built - now that, I want to see grow. Because no amount of physical stores or sold-out Eid Collections would make me happy if I don't have the TSL Sisterhood with me.
So I silenced my pride of "No-TSL-is-my-baby. I'm gonna do it forever," by finally admitting that every single minute I spend on sewing, and packing and mailing and selling, I lose out on precious moments of actually working on my real purpose: to champion Sisters and encouraging them to grow through knowledge.
2 - Ramadhan: The Preparation
It was Ramadhan this year when I first seriously started planning about AA. I remember it was Summer, and I had flown back to Singapore then. The break back to Singapore was invaluable for me! I learned so much about what I really wanted to do in life, and I had super long conversations with Allah about it. I was also away from the studio and the sewing machine lol, so I finally had time to catch up on reading, and learning and reflecting. It was exactly what my heart needed.
During the same time, I also started Video Journalling. The Videos that I've pushed myself to shoot and post on FB was a test - to see if people wanted to receive content about normal day to day occurrences but with reflections on faith, entrepreneurship and personal development.
You guys don't know how much I had to hype myself to do this, because I was also trying to talk myself out of it too :/ (we are our own worse enemies, aren't we?)
But, Alhamdulillah, the Video Journals were well-received, Ma Sha Allah.
And through my experiment on doing those Video Journals, I realised then that content creation was something Allah wanted me to work on.
3. Back To My First Love
During the 4 months that I spent in Singapore, I made sure that I dedicated a huge chunk of my time trying to physically re-connect with the TSL Community. Although we are an online business, we never say no to opportunities that allows us to interact and engage with you guys face to face.
So I threw myself in planning and hosting events, and open sessions and workshops - and the more I did these events (with the help of my awesome band of collaborators, of course) the more I knew that this is exactly what I want to be doing for the rest of my life.
Which is getting to know you. Helping you. Supporting you. Honouring you. Serving you. And most of all, making sure that I do my bestest to help equip you with the mindset, the skills, and the knowledge that you need so that you can be the best version of yourself.
4. Trying it out on Sansan
Coming back to Morocco in September, and knowing that we have to make the move to AA soon, I knew the one person that would be most affected is Sansan. If you are new to the family, Sansan is my head tailor, and she's been with us the longest! Almost 3 years now, Ma Sha Allah. So because we will no longer be sewing and making stuff, we had to give her a new role with new responsibilities.
I sat her down one day, and told her that we are changing directions. It will be scary, and new, and everything is uncertain and hew new role, should she choose to accept it, will not be as comfortable and familiar as sitting behind the sewing machine. I told her that as part of her new role as my assistant in Tangier, she has to pick up one new skill every three months and dedicate herself to learning it. I already started her off with Photography.
The photos you see of me above and the one at the very top of this page was shot by her and I'm so proud of her because she has never picked up a camera before this. She even shot the recent shawl collection and today she started on Watercolour!
Sansan is proof that when our heart is open to growth, we can most certainly achieve anything. I can't wait to get her started on computer skills and learning the English language, etc etc!
IM SO EXCITED FOR HER TO GROW!
5 - So what exactly is Aida Azlin, the brand?
It's for, and about, you. I know it's my name, but trust me, everything about it will be for, and about you. And I'm excited for you to join me here.
We'll focus predominantly on Classes that will, In Sha Allah, help you grow to be a woman of knowledge, of positivity, of grace, and of empathy. But that's just 1% of it. The rest of the 99% will center around continuing sharing awe-inspiring content with you ladies through my Tuesday Love Letters and the Video Journals. And these, I promise, will always remain free and accessible to the AA community.