This article was originally published on India.com:
Twenty-six-year-old Bangladeshi-American entrepreneur Melissa Alam is a Jill-of-All-Trades. Alam runs her own brand development consulting firm, is editor-in-chief of an online women’s magazine called Femme & Fortune and is knee-deep into her newest venture: A co-working space for women called The Hive in her hometown of Philadelphia.
A self-proclaimed tech geek, Melissa said she always had a strong passion for finding creative digital solutions for clients. After graduating from Temple University in 2010 with a degree in Marketing, she landed a job at a top digital marketing firm in Philadelphia.
“By the time I was 24, I was working at a local agency and realized that I hated my lifestyle,” she said. “I just didn’t match well with the routine of the 9-to-5, managing clients that I had no relationship with, and just working for the ‘man.’”
She resigned and started her own branding consulting firm to reach clients in need of digital solutions true to their brand.
“I put in my two weeks and stumbled into the life of being a #girlboss — hope you get used to my hashtags!” Alam said. “I saw a market for small businesses, bloggers and entrepreneurs that needed well-made websites. So I taught myself how to create WordPress websites, and the clients slowly started to come in from seeing my work online and from referrals. The rest is history.” she said.
Alam’s Femme & Fortune, an online women’s magazine and community, where contributors are able to voice their opinion, share tips and advice and attend local events that Alam hosts in the Philadelphia area.
“I’ve always wanted to work for a magazine, so once I started freelancing I thought to myself, why not start my own online magazine?” Alam said.
But her biggest project at the moment is The Hive, Philadelphia’s first co-working space for female entrepreneurs. With the financial help of friends and families, as well as, her own savings, she opened the innovate space in October.
“I was already working out of a local co-working space, so when the opportunity came for me to potentially take over my mentor’s current office in Philadelphia, I knew I had found my calling,” Alam said. “There’s a huge demand for a comfortable workspace for women, so I knew I had to act fast and do it right!”
The co-working space is perfect for those starting their own business or working remotely for a company. It provides women of all ages and backgrounds a creative space to grow, mentor collaborate and empower.
Alam said she sees herself opening up locations around the country and also has plans to create a lifestyle brand for ambitious women.
When it comes to running your own business and being your own boss, Alam said time management is key.
“It’s also important to spend time and focus on the bigger picture items like the overall growth of your business so that you don’t spend all of your time worrying about the little tasks on your to-do list,” she explained.
Alam advises that learning how to manage and deal with finances is imperative to grow your business.
“I’ve learned that you need to be creative when times get tough,” she said. “Early into freelancing, I had multiple side jobs, such as being a hostess at a local Thai restaurant, passing out flyers, being a brand ambassador for companies, babysitting – you name it. I would then put that money back into my business for classes, equipment, conferences, etc.”
As an enterprising South Asian businesswoman, Alam hopes to inspire other young women like herself.
“Growing up, I saw such a void in the media because I couldn’t find or relate to anyone that was South Asian,” she said. “Now, we have women like Mindy Kaling in the media, but I still think we need more representation. Knowing that fact has helped push me further and further in my career as a South Asian woman because I want help fill that void of awesome brown women doing our thang.”
Jennifer Chowdhury is a Bangladeshi-American freelance journalist and fashion copywriter based in New York City. Follow her blog for everything-Jennifer!