Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Najma Hashi, Founder of Repmatters, located in Toronto, ON, Canada.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Repmatters (short for Representation Matters) is a small business where I sell merchandise to promote the positive and accurate representation of people of color. This includes clothing, tote bags, and stickers. I'd say my business definitely caters to minorities. Inclusion is very important, and in this world full of trials for the average minority, the goal is for my merchandise to make individuals feel a sense of belonging and worth in themselves. Especially when the media, for the most part, tries to dehumanize and belittle minorities.

Tell us about yourself

I'm inspired by what I see and hear, especially in the media. Being a Journalism student, I realized just how unfairly people of color are treated in the media and society as a whole. This motivated me to ultimately write blogs on my website regarding the importance of diverse representation, and that's how my business was formed. I went from writing blogs to creating an official logo, and then the creation of the merchandise came to fruition. Repmatters basically took on a life of its own. None of this was pre-planned.

The messages of support from clients that love my business and that it inspires them to see themselves belong in this world are what motivates me each day to keep going.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Being a business owner! I would never have imagined back in university that I'd be the owner of a small business. It always blows my mind (in a good way), and that in itself is a big accomplishment for me. I also recently surpassed 200+ orders, which is pretty amazing considering I started Repmatters last year.

I'm really proud of myself for starting something that I never thought would take off the way that it has right now. It just goes to show you to always have belief in yourself and that no matter what idea you have (big or small), you should go for it because you never know how great it could be.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

Consistency and being able to adapt on the fly are some of the hardest things that come with being a business owner. Sometimes I'm super motivated solely on Repmatters that I won't do anything else. However, on other days I might not want to focus solely on Repmatters due to other tasks I have to get done, so it's all about finding a balance. It can be a bit hard to work on your business 24/7, but if you love what you do, you'll end up making it work.

Adaptability is key, considering I'm selling merchandise. I have to ensure the clothing and printing are up to the highest standard. I also have to make people aware of what's in stock and what isn't, and I try to find new and exciting ways to promote my business on social media.

Adapting on the fly can be hard because there are always new trends being showcased, and you want to be up to par with what people are starting to enjoy. Regardless if the business is slow or starts to ramp up, I'm always going to adapt and be ready.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Hone in on a specific niche. From there, you'll know what your passions are, why you want to ultimately create a business, and why it's important for you to do it.
  2. Have a plan! Do your research! Things can change in the blink of an eye, so it's important that you can adapt to anything, good and bad.
  3. Be yourself! Don't conform to society's standards of how to run a business. If you are happy and love what your business stands for, that's all that matters. Also, don't be afraid to take on new challenges because that is how you'll grow your business and how you'll grow as a person. Ultimately, do what you love and love what you do.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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