Business in Heels
For the second year in a row, the Student Leadership Council (SLC) at the Regina Huda School organized its popular Ladies Bazaar and Trade Show last weekend on Saturday, Dec. 1. As the smell of homemade food wafted through the school’s hallway, various rooms were filled with chatter and shopping. From vendors selling traditional clothing, to those selling handmade jewelry and beauty products, to local caterers giving people a taste of homemade recipes, to well-known businesses like Mary Kay, Avon, and Lia Sophia selling their popular products, the atmosphere was one of a winter shopping land.
Regina Huda School, founded in 1999, is an associate school in the city. Built to foster “the best of the Canadian culture, while preserving the Islamic identity,” the school is home to a large population of Muslim students, ranging from pre-school to grade 12. To connect with the larger Regina community, the school organizes various events throughout the year to bring community members and families together. The trade show is one of these established events.
“One of our school’s improvement targets was to make Regina Huda School more known in the larger community, and make us more a part of the community. So we thought by bringing in the public … to something like this, that would work towards that goal,” explained Donna Littlemore, a high school teacher and SLC advisor at the school.
And meet the goal, they did. The bazaar was advertised through Access Communications, Used Regina, Facebook, and other media outlets, and brought in a large number of people from friends and family members of students and teachers at the school, to local neighbors, and those who heard about the event online, and they were excited to do some holiday shopping.
Apart from the different types of food, clothing, and jewelry sold at the show, however, what stood out most were the strong, determined, and dedicated women behind the products – the local entrepreneurs and business women of Regina.
“Women in business [is an area that’s] growing…I think there’s a lot more opportunities for females than there were even 5 or 10 years ago,” said Ashley Murray, a high school teacher at the school.
This semester, Murray has the opportunity to teach the grade 12 students Entrepreneurship 30 – a fairly new course created by Saskatchewan Learning that is aimed at providing students with the “opportunity to learn about the various characteristics of entrepreneurs and create a working venture.”
In collaboration with the Entrepreneurship Class 30, Junior Achievement Saskatchewan (JSA), an organization aiming to bring business education into schools, partnered with Saskatchewan Learning to enhance the class’s curriculum, by providing students and teachers with “first-hand business experience to the classroom.” The JSA was incorporated into Saskatchewan's teaching curriculum in 2010-2011 academic year, and last year alone, the program reached 16,855 youth.
"I think now that we’re coming into the 21st century, we have to realize that a woman can basically do anything that a guy can do, but she can do it in heels.” – Mehad Atim
At the Huda School, 11 students are taking the course: nine girls and two boys. Together, the team of students worked to create the health and beauty products company, Luxurious Bath, a hand-made bath bombs and bath scrubs business that “surprises your senses.” Offering three various scents – lavender, peppermint, and sweet orange, the students put their product to the test on Saturday.
Mehad Atim and Labiba Aboguddah, grade 12 students and Luxurious Bath stakeholders, said that the process to create their company wasn’t easy, but they learned a lot throughout the process.
“The class teaches you many skills,” Aboguddah said. “We learned about stocks, research and marketing. From there we created the business plan and everyone now has positions in the company, finance, human resources, marketing, and product production … If anyone was interested in going into business, later on in university, it’s a really good class to show us how things would be.”
Asked about their thoughts on women building businesses, Atim explained that in today’s male-dominated society, women are taking over the field, doing a great job, and are successful as well.
“I think that the whole women not being able to run a huge business, or a huge corporation, its just the stereotype that we have … those are all ideologies that have been passed on from history. I think now that we’re coming into the 21st century, we have to realize that a woman can basically do anything that a guy can do, but she can do it in heels,” Atim joked.
Not only has the class provided students with the ability to experience what it takes to start up a business, but Murray believes that the class can also “help inspire girls to pursue dreams and aspirations within the business field.”
Nancy Armstrong, an entrepreneur and business teacher, added the final remarks to the event, stating that the trade show is not only great for shopping, but a great way to “showcase women in business, the independence that women can have, and the entrepreneurial spirit of many women More and more women are launching into the business world, and not just as an assistant or in the background to a man’s success, but actually creating their own success.”
Photo by Taouba Khelifa