P R O F I L E What makes your brand different from the ones out there? Aura products are manufactured and packaged in our own facility in Pakistan. Not only that, all the ingredients are mentioned on the packaging because even natural ingredients can cause allergies sometimes. Aura products are genuinely 100% natural so far, except for our scrubs that are 99.8% natural (0.2% is a safe preservative that prevents the product from spoiling). Another thing that sets Aura apart is that it does not sell or promote whitening products because we, at Aura believe in celebrating ALL shades of beauty. Were there any challenges that you had to face during the initial stages of your business? How did you manage to overcome the obstacles (if any)? There are always obstacles! We had a limited staff for the first 3 years, so handling marketing, research, production and retail with just three people (me, my mom and my dad) was very hectic. Also, trying to sell natural skin care products in Pakistan has been more than challenging, because of the lack of awareness about the natural skin care in the market. It's a very niche and a small-sized market here, but it has grown in the last two years so fingers crossed for the future! The biggest obstacle we're facing at the moment is not having my dad around to overlook production and create the products (something he almost single-handedly managed with incredible perfection and grace). There's been a large void in the Aura family ever since he left - emotionally and physically. But, thankfully, we've got a great team, and we look forward to making Aura a household name in every home, nationally and internationally. No one seems to take you seriously and things don't get done on time. Also, I personally feel like the rents and commission requirements are getting out of hand in Pakistan. 99% of products sold in retail stores are imported items by big international brands. Those international brands aren't affected by the shelf rents/commission, but they heavily impact local brands like Aura. Local brands are not protected or promoted in the retail industry here, but I hope that changes. Tell us about your work relationship with your mother. Who's bossier? Definitely Mommy. She's fierce, ambitious and a do-er. I'm passive, a bit lazy and prefer to work behind the scenes. Do you have any female role models that you look up to for inspiration? Or a success story that moved you? I look up to my parents. I think Aura's initial years have been a success story in itself. I was attending university in Canada and then moved to Dubai when Aura was established as a business. I could only help with the social media and research at that time, but the way my parents managed to produce a high - quality product ranges with limited facilities and take Aura into the retail market is beyond my understanding. Bravo to them! What advice would you give to other women intending to launch their businesses independently? Stay focused, don't slack and be patient. You can't become successful overnight (unless you're a YouTube sensation) What was your motivation for starting a new business from scratch and what were your strategies to help it grow? We, as a family have always been inclined towards holistic lifestyles, What's next in line for your brand? clean eating and healthy environments, so starting a natural skin- Lots of exciting stuff, including the care business only seemed fitting. international market. At this very moment, we are launching 18 essential oils! Should be We want to promote alternative, healthier ways of living, which available for purchase soon. include using toxin-free products on one's body, because 60% of what you put on your skin, absorbs into it! The best strategies have proven to be good communication amongst team members, progressive work environments, a super organized production plan and smart marketing! In your expert opinion, is it still difficult for women entrepreneurs to attain success? Please elaborate. In the fashion and skin-care industry, not at all. It's been a beautiful journey, to be honest. The problem lies in the retail industry. It's almost like a male- dominated mafia. It's impossible, especially for me as a 27-year-old who looks 14, to get my products placed in retail stores hassle-free.