We have been following Tasneem Vally’s Instagram page for a little over a year now and cant help but admire her flawless work as a hijab stylist and modest dresser; her makeup artistry too – yet we only gathered the courage to approach her to feature on our site as recently as 2 week ago! Read Tasneem’s story below as she discusses leaving her previous occupation as an educator and how important it is for her faith to be showcased in her work…
Tasneem, when one glances through your Instagram page, the hunger and passion you have for your craft is evident. At present, you work as a beauty aesthetician and freelance makeup artist along with running a fashion blog, Hayaa Chic, a platform dedicated to showcasing modest, yet trendy dressing. Tell us about your journey to realizing your path…
One can almost say that my life choices have been based on trial and error. I possess a postgraduate degree in Education; an ex-teacher whose heart and passion focused towards dressing up for school as opposed to strategically planning my next math lesson. I experienced little job satisfaction and felt somewhat subdued. Beauty, fashion and makeup was always a thrilling passion.
During my first year of teaching I enrolled at a beauty academy as a part-time student. For 3 years I attended beauty school every Saturday. This was an enormous sacrifice made by my husband, as my time was spent between my career as an educator as well as an aspiring aesthetician, his enduring patience through this time will always be one of the core reasons for my recent success – and for that I will always be eternally grateful.
My love for makeup stems from my dad – his employment with Revlon International intrigued my makeup interest from a very young age. I often experimented with friends and family through the many samples and testers my dad would bring home. These experimentations rapidly unravelled a future endeavour.
My attraction to Fashion trailed through magazines and television. I admired style icons like Elizabeth Taylor , Sophia Loren and Jackie O. Ransacking mums cupboards, accessories, shoes and jewellery trying to emulate their styles (have I just given away my age? Lol).
You are a proud hijab stylist, and observe your faith in both your career and in your everyday life. Why was it important for you to bring your faith into your work? And do you believe that hijab stylists and bloggers in South Africa (and even Africa) have received the breakthrough they deserve to attain in the fashion industry?
Firm faith and belief is the reason I am here today. Every bit of success and opportunity is purely through the will of God. I choose to use my work to part my beliefs and to ‘educate’ society on the role of women in the Islamic faith. As for our breakthrough in social media in Africa at large, I think we still do fall short and that we are still seen as the ‘wannabe’ Dina Tokios. Modest bloggers have not yet been given the platform or recognition to make a name for themselves and that’s why I intend to be one of many to start a trend.
The decision to take your career on a freelance basis is one that has been glamourized in recent years. The truth is, becoming a freelancer has its difficulties and managing funds in these instances can be strenuous. Do you mind sharing the difficulties you’ve had financially as a freelancer, and how you’ve managed to overcome them?
To be honest, there is absolutely nothing glamorous about this profession; being passionate about what you do, means, you will never work a day in your life. I am like a kid in a candy store when styling pieces for a shoot or when a client walks in barefaced and says: “I want to look natural and glowy”. Nothing brings me more satisfaction when she looks at herself in the mirror and is in awe of her appearance. The gratification she displays compensates for all the frustration, late nights and aching muscles.
Initially all styling projects were pro bono based, the only perks were the ‘likes’ and recognition on social media but since developing a concrete portfolio I am able to render a fee as well as being head hunted by various designers!
I have been in the make-up industry for over 10 years now and continue persevering for my BIG break. Currently my weekends are booked for weddings and bridal parties.. The one disadvantage and frustration of being a freelance artist is living month by month, there is no structure or guarantee, appointments get cancelled on the 11th hour and clients expect their ‘non-refundable’ deposits to actually be refunded.
In addition to your aforementioned roles, you also run a beauty and laser clinic on the East Rand. What have been some of your best methods of obtaining and securing clients for your business?
I have always maintained the following business ethics:
- Client satisfaction will always be given priority, no two clients are alike hence every client has a customised approach.
- Every client that walks through my door is treated as if she is the reason for the success of my business.
- Innovation, Innovation, Innovation and education. I continue researching how the world innovates and I educate myself on how newer products will benefit my clients.
Most, if not all, the ladies that have now become loyal and regular clients were either word of mouth referrals or ladies who have seen my skin and asked for the same treatments to be administered on them. I am a firm believer that I will only endorse and promote treatments that I have personally tried and tested on myself, and only if I have faith in a particular product or treatment am I confident enough in selling it to my clients. I am also not a product pusher. I believe that you need to earn the trust of your clients and help them achieve their goals with regards to all of their skin/body concerns.
What are some of the aspects that frustrate you about being a) an entrepreneur and b) a creative in South Africa?
We live in times where it’s who you know rather than what you know and only if you have the right contacts can you get your much-awaited big break. Being South African, we tend to move a decade behind the rest of the world, (ok so I might be exaggerating a little), but really what might be successful and trending on the opposite side of the globe, tends to take much longer before it starts to actually grow on us, although social media has aligned our trends quicker.
Take us through what a typical work day looks like for you?
My day starts just before sunrise, whereby we observe our first prayer for the day, then it’s getting the kids up and ready for school. Once all 3 are off and only 1 more left at home, my work day starts. This entails attending to clients at the salon, and in between I’m planning shoots and consulting with potential clients for makeup bookings.
I am extremely blessed – my mother-in-law spends most days attending to my kids after school, my kids also spend a lot of time with my parents on weekends. Because I’m still a bit of a traditional girl, I live with my in-laws and I have thee most amazing Mother-in-law who prepares our meals and sees to the kids if I’m swamped at work! God bless these two special women in my life.
Moreover, I have a special needs son, so if my hubby is in meetings then I would have to pick him up from school and take him to therapy. Once I’m home, latest by 5, then it’s family time, home work with the kids, family discussions, play time with the baby and finally some adult time with my favourite human, my best friend, my hubs.
Advice for aspiring creatives and entrepreneurs?
Believe, believe, believe… every successful entrepreneur started off small or at the bottom, just keep on knocking on every door until the right one opens! And you will always be successful if you are pursuing a career or talent that you are passionate about because your capabilities and talent will shine through all your fears, doubts and insecurities…
The biggest sacrifice I’ve ever made is… working over weekends and not getting to spend it with my kids
The greatest self-marketing/branding tool is… Honesty and always having a smile regardless of how crappy your day is going!
Best investment… time.. never ever rush, always make your client feel that the time you spend with them is time well invested in their needs.
Worst money mistake… investing in unnecessary crap for my makeup kit because of stupidity – and because I’m an online shopper addict!
Advice in 3 words… never doubt yourself
Contact Tasneem – IG: tasneem_valley | URL: hayaachic.co.za | FB: Hayaachic | E: firstname.lastname@example.org | Beauty/laser clinic: No 97 Sunnyside Road, Lakefield, Room 7