Recently I had the honour and great pleasure to interview Sharn Khaira who was an Asian Wedding Planner and coordinator for Asian and Fusion weddings at Desi Bride Dreams. I say great pleasure because of the positive energy she brings with and you can read it throughout the answers she gives. It’s always with a big smile that brings good vibes. So please read the interview and let us know what you think in the comments below.
TELL ME ABOUT YOUR CURRENT BUSINESS. WHAT ARE YOU DOING EXACTLY?
I was a successful Luxury Asian Wedding Planner and Coordinator for Asian and Fusion weddings at Desi Bride Dreams. Desi Bride Dreams has been flagged as a ‘name to know’ in the UK Asian Wedding world. From its inception in September 2015, my team and I have worked on a huge variety of weddings and have managed weddings with budgets in excess of £100,000.
I am also an advocate for Asian Female Entrepreneurs and have set up the Asian Female Entrepreneurs Collective (AFEC) to help other women be successful in business. Apart from having a successful wedding planning business, I knew I had a deeper and more meaningful calling. In 2017, I set up the community for Asian Female Entrepreneurs, so they could come together to talk about business, cultural challenges, taboo topics and more! The group now has over 4,000 members.
Now I am on a global mission to support, empower, and educate as manyAsian Female Entrepreneurs as possible to smash down cultural blocks, and live the lives they deserve. I started by sharing all I had learned with other female entrepreneurs, and now I serve as a Business and Mindset Mentor, offers one-to-one mentoring, masterminds, and a monthly affordable membership programme.
HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH YOUR BUSINESS IDEA?
Originally for my Asian Wedding Planning business, I came up with the idea, as I did such a fantastic job at my own wedding. Everyone commented on the organization and the décor, style and theme etc. So, after having a super successful blog, which attracted thousands of visitors per month, I decided to launch my Asian Wedding Planning business! It went from strength to strength and so much of our work was featured globally in wedding magazines and blogs! For my AFEC brand, I came up with the idea back in 2017. It wasn’t actually meant to be a mentoring business – I just wanted it to be a free Facebook group for Asian Female Entrepreneurs to network with each other, but it very quickly grew into workshops, and then masterminds etc. The rest is history!
WHAT WERE YOU DOING BEFORE THIS, AND IS THIS YOUR FIRST BUSINESS?
My career background is online marketing. After university, I worked at leading Southwest marketing agencies and worked on some huge brands helping them with their online marketing strategy! But I left my corporate job back in 2014, as I was so burnt out and miserable and started my Asian wedding blog.
But before this my first ever business was an online Asian dating website – which totally flopped because I was not passionate about it! This was back in 2011 and I learned so much about social media, SEO, branding etc, so I am really grateful for that experience!
WHAT SPECIFIC ADVICE WOULD YOU HAVE FOR YOUNG WOMEN WHO WOULD LIKE TO BECOME AN ENTREPRENEUR?
I think the hardest thing, in the beginning, was taking the NO’s when clients would turn you down or book with someone else. I went through a stage at the beginning of my business where I was attracting my non-ideal clients, which meant they couldn’t afford me. I would be down for days on end if someone didn’t book with me. I then really worked on my branding and ideal client profile and did a mini relaunch. Literally overnight I booked my first big London wedding!
Resilience is something I have really had to work on. I don’t think I realized how challenging running a business can be. But over time I have learned to not take things personally and bounce back quicker. I see a lot of female entrepreneurs really struggling in this area. Everyone will always make mistakes and there will be nasty people out there, but your ability to bounce back is what matters ultimately!
MY GREATEST OBSTACLE AND HOW DID YOU DEALT WITH IT:
I think the beginning part is seriously always the hardest! Getting your first few paying clients will take so much energy! But once you have your first few clients you build momentum and it becomes easier.
Another thing I would say is that if you are ambitious and you want to achieve more (whatever that looks like for you) then there is ALWAYS new mindset struggles to deal with. For example, when I first started out I just wanted to earn £1,000 per month. And once I reached that I wanted to go to the next level, and so on etc. But every different level required a different mindset and a different version of me. And I think that is always one of the hardest parts – it’s about challenging yourself, your belief systems and the bullshit story you tell yourself!
MY PROUDEST ACCOMPLISHMENT:
Paying off my parent’s mortgage back in 2018! Full disclosure it was not a huge amount but to actually pay it off was such an incredible achievement!
I also took my mum to New York last year, and we stayed in the most magnificent Taj Hotel. She had never been anywhere other than India and the UK, so it was super special to take her! It was an incredible experience for both of us and I feel like having a successful income-generating business can so many positive impacts on others lives.
HOW I BLEND LIFE AND WORK TO CREATE THE LIFE I WANT:
I personally feel there is no balance just a blend like you say! I have a separate office where I always do my work so that really helps me differentiate my working space from my living space. I think that is super important when you are working from home
I also don’t have emails on my phone and I really try to limit my app usage in the evenings and weekends! This really helps and allows me to be present with my husband and loved ones.
I AM INSPIRED BY:
Beyoncé! Ever since I was in my teens I have been, and she is a true reflection of hard work, drive, and ambition whilst always remaining humble and professional!
WHY I CHOSE THIS CAREER:
My true passion is helping Asian Female Entrepreneurs step into the best version of them! I love seeing their transformation whether that is increased confidence or increased income – it lights my soul on fire. I really love helping them and seeing them do well.
HOW I PREPARE FOR SUCCESS:
It is always a mindset game! So if I have something that I am doing which is outside my comfort zone etc then I always do the inner mindset work first. Mindset work can look different for so many people but for me, it is a combination of gratitude, journaling, angel card work and lots more! You have to find what works for you, so this could be things such as affirmations, meditation etc.
DID YOU WRITE A BUSINESS PLAN? WAS IT AN EFFECTIVE TOOL FOR YOU?
I think the best business plan is taking action! So many female entrepreneurs get caught up in the admin etc and don’t focus on the needle movers in their business. So, for me, I never wrote a business plan but I have always had a strategy and marketing plan, which I think is super important. Knowing precisely what is going to move your business forward at lightning speed is what you should always focus on. So, for example, that could be collaborations, PR, exhibitions etc.
ARE THERE SPECIFIC ADVANTAGES, DISADVANTAGES TO BEING A WOMEN BUSINESS OWNER?
I think this really depends on your attitude and mindset. Personally I love breaking glass ceilings and being a woman of colour I view it as an opportunity really. I think being a woman always has its gender discrimination but I think we should all view it as an opportunity to rise. We are living in one of the best times ever in terms of technology and starting a business – let’s focus on that!
MY FAVOURITE BUSINESS TOOL IS…
I love using Trello for myself and using it as a tool to communicate with my team!
THE BEST PIECE OF ADVICE I HAVE EVER BEEN GIVEN IS…
I think not caring about what others think of you. You will always be judged either way so you might as well put yourself out there and live into your true purpose daily. This has not been easy for me due to my culture and cultural conditioning, and I was petrified at the beginning of my business because I was so concerned with what my family and friends would think of me. But the more visible you are the more revenue and success you will have (whatever that looks like for you).