Aida from The Shawl Label is a woman of many talents which she shares through her inspiring Love Letters, Woman Up podcasts or classes that she conducts through The Shawl Label, all while being based between the two far off countries of Singapore and Morocco! We asked her what inspired her to start her label, and tips for those travelling to Morocco. Read on!
Hi Aida! Do tell us a bit about yourself 😊
I’m Aida and I’m originally from Singapore, but I’ve been calling Tangier, Morocco as my home for the past 3 years. I run The Shawl Label full time while curiously immersing myself with learning, reading and writing about things I am strongly passionate about: my Deen, the concept of Self-Betterment, Entrepreneurship, & the importance of Sisterhood.
Every Tuesday, I send out a love letter to the ladies on our mailing list and I also produce the Woman Up podcast!
What inspired you start The Shawl Label, and what was something interesting that happened since you started the brand?
Moving to Morocco was definitely one of the biggest inspiration for me to start TSL. Morocco transformed and brought change to how I saw entrepreneurship. Having met and being inspired by women who are their own bosses in Morocco taught me that one does not need a huge amount of capital, Facebook or even a website to create noise about what one is doing. That all we need is the intention to begin, lots of hustle & hard work, a bit of courage and a whole lot of sincerity, gratitude and patience.
Alhamdulillah, we have had such a fulfilling ride these past years. I am blessed to be able to connect with Ma Sha Allah sisters every day, Sisters who share with me their personal journeys, adventures, thoughts and reflection. And when they tell me that I have contributed in one way or another to their personal achievements / success stories, I am reminded of why I do what I do.
Some of the most memorable ones are: a Chinese Sister who reverted to Islam, a number of Sisters who were inspired to start on their Hijab journey, non-Muslim sisters who have enjoyed the sharing on Islam through my Tuesday love letters and Sisters who made the leap of faith to stop their day jobs to pursue their purpose!
You have an unlimited travel budget for 24 hours. What would your itinerary look like?
At any chance I can get, I will fly back to Singapore to see my friends and family, so if I have just that – an unlimited travel budget, I will fly home as often and as regularly as I can. And always via Emirates, because their in flight entertainment is the best! (For long haul flights, I cannot fly anything else other than Emirates lol) And a few hours in Dubai to see and play with my favourite nephew and niece.
What are 3 of your favourite destinations?
Helsinki for the clean aesthetics, Tokyo for the vibe and London. Because I first fell in love with my husband in London ☺️
Which country are you most excited to visit in 2016?
I would love to visit Beirut, Beijing and re-visit Mekah and Madina, In Sha Allah!
What was the best travel experience you’ve had so far?
When my husband and I got squashed in a very very very very very very very crowded train in Jakarta,during Ramadan. We were so thirsty, the heat was beating our backs, but we felt so proud of ourselves that we survived the ride and actually had a great laugh about it after.
Our local Indonesian friends said, “even the locals try to avoid taking the train and you guys did that!” I think that whole experience made our marriage stronger hahaha.
What are some of the challenges you have faced while travelling and what did you learn from it?
Whenever we get lost in a foreign country, it is always frustrating and anxiety-inducing. And this always happens when you travel, even if you plan, and pre-plan and double, triple check everything. These moments are what really taught me to rely upon Allah, every single second. When you put complete reliance on Him, He will always guide you through, everything and anything, In Sha Allah!
What are your travel tech must-haves?
Not necessarily tech apps. I just use XE a lot (to convert currencies), Trello, to keep track of our spending list / places to see list / all kinds of list (we like using Trello too! – Sabrina), the compass app (to check Qibla’) on my phone and my travel prayer mat.
If you could give one piece of advice to people who want to travel – what would it be?
Go do it! Leave shyness at home and be open to new adventures. I think one of the most beautiful things about travelling is it encourages us to refute the concept of our own personal limitations and prove ourselves wrong. Travel builds our confidence, strengthens our imagination and increases our compassion. If you are worried about money, you can always save up and start travelling closer to home and then slowly go further.
Tell us an insider tip or two for people travelling to Morocco
You can’t find or change your currency to Moroccan dirhams as it is illegal to bring the currency out of Morocco. (And Emirati Dirhams is not the same as Moroccan dirhams). You can withdraw your money here in Morocco via ATM (just make sure you call your bank and activate the overseas withdrawal function) or convert your local currencies to USD, GBP or Euro (these are the major currencies that we recognise here in Morocco) and change it to Moroccan Dirhams at the airport.
Also, instead of picking up Arabic, brush up on French or Spanish instead for Morocco. The Arabic we speak here is Darija, a mix of Arabic, French and Spanish. We rarely use the classical Arabic in our everyday, maybe even not at all.
What’s your favourite travel photo?
I miss them a lot so when we all met in London late last year, and my dad snapped this photo, it easily became one of my favourite travel photo. we were all just having a blast, and it is one of my favourite moments of all time.
Fill in the blank: The world would be a much better place if ________________.
…we all just smiled more often. To strangers, to our loved ones, to ourselves, to everyone!
Have a hilarious/interesting/memorable travel story or any tips you would like to share with us? Drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!
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