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Start-up of the Week: MZN founder proves teaching and running a business can coexist.

DHAHRAN: "Seize any opportunity. Also, learn how to prioritize your time; we can achieve so much during the day if we manage our time well. And don't be afraid to ask for help when you need it."

That is the advice of Muzon Ashgar, founder of MZN body care. MZN is a natural skincare product handmade in Saudi Arabia. The founder of MZN said that the high-quality products are available at affordable prices.

Ashgar said when designing any of her products, the MZN brand keeps in mind the Saudi user, what they need, what do they like and what they are looking for in a product.

She said that her business came about by chance.

"I wasn't planning on changing my profession at all. I invited my friends to a spa-themed party at my house and I made small giveaways to go with the party theme. I made scrubs, lip balm, hand lotion and such for them to take home; all created from scratch in my kitchen. But being a designer, I had to label them so, with the help of my friends, came up with the name of the 'brand' and designed labels for the products. They loved the products and some of them asked for more. At that time the trend of 'outdoor family events' had just started so they convinced me to participate as a brand," Ashgar said.

Ashgar, who is also a lecturer at Imam bin Abdulrahman University teaching photography and graphics design, said the products sold out the first and second day, making her think that there was a chance of starting a full-fledged business.

"So, I started looking into the possibility of starting a business. At that time, I was still a lecturer in college and running a business so I didn't change professions. I just added one.

"After one year of running the business from home, I rented a workshop space in the Prince Sultan Fund for Women incubators in the industrial city, and started to get the proper licenses and permits for the brand. We now have the manufacturing and the Saudi Food and Drug Authority licenses.

"I'm still a lecturer and run the business at the same time. I have staff that helps me run both the administration and customer service and the manufacturing," Ashgar said.

Two years ago, Ashgar traveled to London to take courses to hone her craft. She enrolled in a soap boot camp course in April of 2016. She also attended courses in cold-process soap-making liquid- and cream-soap making, cosmetics regulations, labeling and compliance. She also gained a diploma from the School of Natural Skincare in June 2016.

She said she also took courses in business. "The transition from a house business to a workshop helped me take the business more seriously and helped us to find better opportunities for sales and distribution," she said.

With some time management, I was able to give both jobs or "careers" the attention they needed.

"With the help of my husband, Basil, and a good family friend, Feras, who runs his own family business, I was able to figure out a lot of the ins and outs of running a business," Ashgar said.

"We also faced challenges from sourcing the raw materials, the cost of equipment and rent, to developing new products," she said.

The MZN brand launched in March 2015, and the greatest challenge for Ashgar was time management between her job, home, and the business. She said that it created a lot of issues at the beginning but now she is more in control.

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Publication:Arab News (Jeddah, Saudi Arabia)
Date:Jul 17, 2018
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