Penny | From engineer to online gallery owner
By Holly Meyrick
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.
5 THINGS ABOUT
IRAN | ENTREPRENEUR | ART LOVER | PEOPLE PERSON | STORNG 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.