Born in London, I could probably hear Bow Bells. My parents came from Zanzibar. I feel blessed and inspired by my rich heritage. By the strength of both Grandmothers, neither with a formal education, but both so wise in human behaviour. By my parents who showed amazing courage, moving to and marrying in London 55 years ago, when there was no email or credit cards; telephones were in a red box on the street, and there was only one flight every two weeks and no money to buy a ticket. They earned £7 and £9 a week to begin and made their way, doing the best for us, contributing to their community and country and encouraging me to follow my dreams.
To the horror of my father, I left school without completing my A Levels and went off to study Hairdressing and Beauty Therapy. Anyone who knows Asian families understands that I was meant to be a doctor, dentist or pharmacist!
Three years of study later and despite several exam credits and distinctions, I decided I did not want to work in a salon after all. I went to work in a showroom of the beauty supplier, Original Additions. My Father was disappointed that I was just a ‘sales girl’. Wait! Before you recoil in outrage, I am glad I had a bit of a tiger father and mother. They instilled in us that nothing is too difficult (not even maths), but that we had to apply ourselves with discipline, continue working when others downed tools, compete, be more productive than others and improve on our personal best. We had a toilet roll holder that said, ''Tis better to have tried and failed, than never to have tried at all’. It’s a good lesson and one of the influences, in starting my own business.
Working ground up, I had success in Field Sales, Training, Marketing, Communications, New Product Development, General Management and also had P&L responsibility on both sides of the Atlantic. I was part of the team that grew Clinique to the number one position in the UK, after which I established and developed Origins, while General Manager UK/ROI; latterly, Senior Vice President/General Manager for North America, based out of New York City. At Lancôme, I provided a retail and consumer focus to revitalise resonance, sales and profit performance. I was credited by many for their most successful skincare launch (Genefique), in the UK’s recorded history.
I am honoured to have been recognised and voted by peers as Cosmetic Executive Women’s Achiever of the Year, SpecSavers Everywoman Retail Ambassador, Marie Claire Magazine Mentor and speaker at various educational facilities, trade shows and conferences. I am committed to helping other women (and men) achieve their dreams. (See the Business tab on my blog for more information.)
After 27 happy and successful years in corporate life, when I could no longer conform to things that did not make sense to me, I decided to pursue my dream. After two and a half years of research and creation, I launched MERUMAYA® on 15th October 2012.
During that time, I met and married Mike (on the Internet and that’s another story!), was blessed to have a baby girl named Yasmin (it was a natural pregnancy at the age of 48 and followed five miscarriages), moved house and launched my dream brand. So, if you are wondering if you will ever get your happily ever after, don’t give up; keep believing, constantly visualising and create a positive environment to facilitate your dream - your miracle.
By the way, MERUMAYA® is a made up name, so I really don't mind how you pronounce it; just say it please, to as many people as possible! Made from the first two letters of the names of my father, mother, myself and my sister (now daughter too). It is the name my father would have called his own business, if he’d had the courage to pursue that dream. He chose to protect our future, and us by remaining in his secure job, in the Control Tower at Heathrow Airport. Launching MERUMAYA® brings alive his dream, as well as mine.