“You can change your life by simply choosing who you want to be.”
I grew up in Tehran (Iran) and moved to Europe for my studies and career. I studied engineering and business but I knew I belonged in the creative field. In Iran studying engineering is prestige and a ticket to a “good life”. Unconsciously the social pressure made me choose my studies.
After graduating I tried to find work within the creative industry. After months of rejection I accepted a sales and marketing job in telecommunications. I knew it was a job I couldn’t do for long, but I needed to find out what I wanted to do next.
“Try to find your lesson from every situation.”
5 THINGS ABOUT PENNY
Iran | Entrepreneur | Art Lover | People Person | Strong Willed
LEAP OF FAITH
Coming from Iran I always pushed myself to work harder. You have to make your own chances in life. After being rejected for over 150 jobs in the creative field, I started to think of ways of creating my own opportunities in the creative industry. I have such a passion for the arts and after thoroughly scouring the internet for months, I began to find a lot of undiscovered artistic talent. I wondered how I could help these people achieve the recognition they deserved whilst utilising my skill set to create a new business strand that I could excel at.
“A good life for me isn’t about partying every week, it’s about learning something new every day and improving myself.”
Niqoo is an online art gallery aiming to connect young and talented artists from all over the world to art lovers. There is a real gap in the art market for work that is of high quality but also an affordable price. I want the customers to feel truly connected to the art they are buying by telling the stories of the artists and of the work they produce. My business is founded on a good relationship between me and the artists, it’s integral to what we do.
“It’s all about finding that thing you are really passionate about but being honest with yourself about the financial aspect of it. How can you make a living out of it?.”
The idea really struck me, I knew this was what I wanted to pursue. In October 2014 I came up with the idea and the site was launched in July 2015. Short term deadlines really help me, it helps you focus and work harder. I started reading lots of business books like 'Zero to One' and listening to ted talks for inspiration. My idea was relatively simple but the execution was not; I had to source artists, set up the website and online gallery and find a reliable and quality source to get the prints made. It took a lot of time and research to get everything exactly how I wanted it.
“I utilised my network to see my dream, my vision, come to life.”
THE MONEY TALK
I saved up enough money to allow me to work solely on this plan for 6 months. I don’t think I could have done this working a regular job beside setting up the business. I felt that I needed to put all my focus into the business to make it the best it could be. When you start your business, It’s about utilising the network around you to try and do things for as little as possible. Use your mind to teach yourself new skills to help you build your own business. For example, I taught myself web design, Photoshop and the basics of e-commerce. This saved me the money that would usually be spent hiring someone to do it for me.
“I would advice anyone to save enough money to be able to throw yourself 100% into the project.”
THE TOUGH TIMES
It was really hard being rejected from all of the jobs that I applied for when I knew I was more than capable of doing them. Although my confidence took a knocking, I am now thankful because it made me fight harder and become stronger. Now, I wish I’d known that I was capable of starting my own business sooner! I could have had this idea up and running 3 years ago. It is important to realise that if you're stuck in a job that you have no passion for, you should use that time in a positive way. Learn something new so that you can take your life to the next stage. Starting your own business involves different types of struggles. There are definitely some anxious moments, particularly when you look at your competition. You feel like you will never achieve what they have. But this shouldn’t discourage you, you should learn from their mistakes and think about how you can do it differently and better.
“Its not about your situation or the things you have around you, it’s about how much you want to make your idea work. Everyone can succeed if they want to.’
5 INSIDER TIPS
1. Make sure you know yourself well before starting your own business. Not everyone is cut out to be their own boss.
2. Set yourself short term goals. This way, you organise your time better, you work harder and you stop your life from stagnating.
3. Try and visualise the future. Where do you want to be in 5 years? If you are still happy with the idea of being involved in your business then go for it!
4. Instead of moaning about life try and turn each bad situation into a positive one, improve yourself.
5. Make a plan for the next day every night, you will be more productive and achieve more. Starting your own business can at times feel overwhelming.
“You can change your life to have a better one, we all have a choice, it’s whether or not we choose to take it.”
Penny was a real inspiration to talk to, particularly as our interests lie in the same field. She’s proof that if you believe in your idea enough you can make it happen with little resources. All you need is determination. When you experience rejection in life or you’re presented with hurdles, it’s only you that can find inner strength to overcome them and turn negative situations into positive ones. I myself have taken away many things that Penny has said and applied them to my own situation. We should look for solutions to our problems and not waste time moaning about them. I love the inclusive and creative nature of Penny’s concept with Niqoo and I see her moving on to great things with the other ideas she has in this field.