Zainab Sarumi is the inspiration behind Mint Eyewear and a loyal OurPass merchant. The brand has been built on a unique vision of providing great products at a very attractive price. Zainab's story – now featured in our women in business spotlight series – will give you a taste of what it is like to be a female entrepreneur who's making progress and exciting changes in her industry.
What’s your name and what do you do?
My name is Zainab. I’m the founder of Mint Eyewear. I’m a brand designer and entrepreneur.
Is this what you’ve always dreamt of doing?
Actually, I’ve always wanted to have my own company or business, so yeah, I can say that it’s in line with my dreams.
Why do you think it’s important to celebrate International Women’s Day?
I think it’s important to celebrate IWD in order to acknowledge the things that women do and contribute to society and the economy. Also, to highlight the importance of including women, and most importantly, breaking the biases that have to do with being a woman: societal bias, career bias, economic bias.
What barriers have you faced in your career or business due to being a woman?
As a brand designer and entrepreneur, I wouldn’t say I’ve faced any specific barriers in my career; but as a woman, I’ve faced multiple societal biases, in terms of the expectations from family, loved ones and society when you get to a certain age of being a woman. They would expect you to plan towards just getting married and having children; they would say things like, “Why are you doing business, it's not always about money, just get married and be in your husband's house, why are you struggling, what are you looking for?”. So it's mostly societal biases I've faced and nothing in line with my career.
What has resonated with you the most as a woman in your career?
There are different lessons I’ve learned so far in the last four years of running my businesses, but my biggest lesson so far is to just keep doing. It’s not going to be all rosy or nice or good times. You’re going to experience lots of difficult times. So, it’s important to always have your goal and vision in mind; It just helps you to keep pushing, it should be your biggest motivation. That’s one of the things that helps me.
How can we encourage more women to pursue entrepreneurship or leadership roles in their careers?
Don’t be afraid to dream too big. Don’t limit yourself or your dreams. Dream big and work hard towards achieving your goals. Don’t give up.
Is there anyone that inspires you in your career?
I have someone that inspires me, and her name is Bibi Yusuf. She’s a Malaysian business owner/ entrepreneur.
If you could have dinner with one inspiring woman, who would it be and why?
I would love to have dinner with Bibi Yusuf. Like I said earlier, she’s a Malaysian entrepreneur and she owns a couple of companies that are very major. So I'd love to have dinner with her, just sit down, discuss, and learn a few things, especially in trying to navigate being a woman and entrepreneur.
What progress have you seen on gender equality in your life and work?
I can say that in the past four to five years, I’ve seen a lot of progress. Especially in terms of gender equality and inclusion in Nigeria’s tech industry; also, in the entrepreneurship aspect, there are a lot more women having businesses and running them successfully in Nigeria. There are also a lot more female tech founders, cofounders, directors and managers. That is so good to see. I’m glad to be alive to witness this huge change in Nigeria.
If you were to define yourself with one word, what would it be?
Unconventional, I guess. I mean, I don’t subscribe to the traditional roles of being a woman, so yeah, I would say creative and unconventional. Those are two words but…
What impact would you like to make in the world?
That would be encouraging young girls to dream big. I mean it's okay to be ordinary, but just let it be something you decide by yourself and let it be on your own terms. Don’t let people decide what you should do or how you should live your life. So I’ll say the willingness to dream big, work hard and the ability to go for whatever they want to be, that’s something I would like to impact on young girls.
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