A conversation with Salama Mohamed

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In the spirit of Mother’s Day, we were privileged to meet and chat with a young mother who is also a successful entrepreneur with an innovative spirit: Salama Mohamed. Salama is the brain and heart behind Pearl by S, an online jewelry store that sells a unique and modern fusion of seawater and freshwater pearls along with (18K and 21K) gold at reasonable prices. First and foremost, she’s a mother of two young boys, Khalifa and Abdulla, who are her pride and joy.

We had a conversation with Salama to get to know her on a deeper level and learn the secrets behind her success as a business woman and a mother in hopes of inspiring other women to pursue their dreams.

  1. What was the inspiration behind your jewelry store, Pearl by S?

The idea of starting my own business began when I moved back from California. I lived there for a couple of years with my husband, Khalid, who was studying for his MBA. While he was studying, I was sort of learning alongside him; he would come home after classes and explain to me what he had learned, and I would diligently take notes. I was inspired by what I had learned, and I knew I had to do something for myself, something different, innovative.

My grandfather was a pearl diver in Abu Dhabi, so the love for pearls runs in my family. I’ve been a collector of pearls since I can remember, and have a wide collection- and obsession- for pearls. I wanted to share my love for pearls and start an affordable jewelry line, accessible to everyone.

I was tired of visiting high end brands and finding low quality jewelry being passed on for high prices. I wanted to sell authentic jewelry that could be passed down through generations, yet was very affordable. And that was the inception of Pearl by S.

And here’s a little secret, when I started designing my line, I used the first hundred pearls from my own personal collection.

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  1. What were some of the challenges you faced in starting and running your business?

Time management for sure. I started my business all by myself with barely any help. I had a temporary goldsmith who worked with me for a little while. During the first three months of starting the business, it was difficult for me to manage my time, as I had to manage my goldsmith, myself, my kids, orders etc. But I definitely learned a lot, especially the value of good time management skills.

  1. What is it like being a mom, a wife, and a business owner simultaneously?

It’s crazy, unbelievably crazy, but extremely rewarding. When I push myself- past my limits- and see my kids thriving in school, and my business going well, those results are the most rewarding part. Also when you put so much heart into something, and you see it succeed, you don’t feel like it’s a job or a hobby, it’s much more than that, it’s like having a third baby.

  1. What is the most rewarding part about being a mother?

When I hear Khalifa and Abdulla calling me ‘Mama’, it melts my heart. My kids are my biggest achievement. To watch them grow in front of me makes me feel proud every day.

  1. Do you have any advice for new mothers?

Yes, enjoy your free time while you can. My first challenge as a new mother, was I didn’t focus on myself, and my life completely revolved around my new baby. I barely kept in touch with friends and didn’t spend enough time with my family. When you have a new baby you tend to forget about yourself. I really missed having my own time.

So my advice to new mothers is to take a break, take some time for yourself, even if it’s half an hour day to disconnect, watch a show, meditate, do yoga etc. And it has to be during the day, because your nights are inevitably yours- once you put your kids to bed- it’s the day time that you need to be a bit selfish with. If you’re child is taking a nap, use that time for yourself; if he or she is playing, use that time for yourself as well.

  1. Do you have any advice for young women who want to follow their dreams?

I know it might sound cheesy, but I believe if you have something on your mind, just do it. Don’t think about financial constraints. I started my company on a 500 dhs budget, nothing else. It was my own money and my own pearls that I started with, and look how it turned out. When you put your heart and mind into something, it will succeed!

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  1. Who has been your biggest supporter?

I would say my husband, Khalid, who has been my number one supporter since the beginning. He pushed me to open my Instagram page when I was hesitant. It’s Khalid, then my sisters, who were also amazing during this journey. I’m also grateful to my friends and Emirati women in general, who have showed me lots of support during the process of being a female entrepreneur.

  1. What are your future plans for Pearl by S?

I launched my latest collection on Feb 21st, and I also have a new collection coming out soon called “Pearls for purpose”. Falling under Pearl by S, “Pearls for purpose” is aimed at raising awareness of Vitiligo and helping women and young girls be comfortable in their own skin.

Vitiligo is a virus that can cause the loss of a skin color, which in return would produce the appearance of two different skin colors on a person. It’s often misconceived as a hereditary disease but it’s not. Neither is it contagious nor harmful to others.

I am one of those people living with Vitiligo. However, growing up I was very fortunate because I had beautiful and supportive parents, and a loving family of brothers and sisters who made me feel comfortable in my own skin. I even had a friend who would love to kiss me on my eyelid, which is a lighter color than the rest of my face, telling me that was her favorite spot. This small gesture made me feel really confident and comfortable with myself.

When I started posting pictures of myself, I received endless comments from people living with Vitiligo, opening up to me about how difficult it has been for them to go out and live their lives, due to ignorant comments and reactions. And these stories really break my heart.

The main goal behind “Pearls for Purpose” is for the pearls to be a representation of who a person is, no matter how they look, whether they have scars, moles, or even Vitiligo. I want people to think they are beautiful no matter what. I hope this line can inspire people to feel good about themselves and be comfortable in their own skin.

If you’ve enjoyed the article or have any questions for Salama, please let us know in the comments section.

You can visit the Pearl by S online store on Instagram (@PearlbyS).

Sincerely,

Sisi & Rara

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