Today we’d like to introduce you to Nesma Nuru.
Hi Nesma, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
I was raised by two successful entrepreneurs who were straight bosses. From a young age, I knew that I only wanted to work for myself and add a community element to my work. I remember I had a journal where I would write all of my inventions and ideas. I was passionate about having no limits so that notebook was full of the most random ideas like dress sketches, a homeless shelter app idea, virtual wedding app and lots of others. At UCLA, is when I was introduced to the term “social entrepreneurship” which perfectly described the business model I sought after. There was a lot of pressure to find a job because immigrant parents do not play when it comes to career. I got my dream role as an IT consultant in DC right after college then quit less than a year later to move back to LA. I knew I wanted to create a brand that acted as a marketplace for the African American community but didn’t know where to start. I was taking a nap at a family friend’s house and heard her mom’s sewing machines going off as she was making a dress (Diraac) we share in the East African region but rooted in Somalia. It was the perfect binding element since it was a cloth that each country in the East African region shared. Later, at a friend’s wedding I met Farah, my co-founder, and realized that she was everything that was missing and needed to finally start a company. She had the focus, direction, and boldness that really pushed ZIA to its full potential. I am grateful for ZIA because it gave us the space to explore our wildest ideas without any limits. I know that if either Farah or I wake up saying “hey, let’s make candles for ZIA”, that we will always have the support of our amazing community.
Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
I think it’s very easy to start a business but what isn’t easy is staying consistent and relevant. Due to covid, there were many curve balls thrown at us so it definitely wasn’t smooth. We had to learn how to be resourceful and pivot according to current news to remain relevant. Our struggles were mostly out of our hands such as shipping delays so instead we had to use local resources and pivot some goals we had for the year.
Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
So this year, I made it my absolute goal to make sure I explored every one of my interests and make a business out of it for taxes purposes. I told myself that I would explore that passion and write it off on my taxes! During the pandemic, I started a cookie business because my biggest coping mechanism during covid was recipe developing. Then, I began pottery which I can’t say I have mastered yet. I also started a new role at an awesome supportive housing nonprofit. And lastly, ZIA, which I co-founded. I am definitely most proud of not being afraid of exploring new ideas and businesses.
How do you think about happiness?
This is cliché — but good food and good company. As I get older, I’m reminded constantly how short life really is and we are nothing without our memories — especially the good ones.
- Website: www.ziaeast.com
- Instagram: @ZiaEast