Meet Kiran and Sonam, Co-Founders of British-Asian Empowerment Platform ‘Not Your Wife’. Not Your Wife aims to provide a voice for the modern Asian woman by shining a light on ‘taboo’ and generationally inaccessible topics in an honest and genuine manner;
Interview with Tasneem Shahidullah, CEO of Tasneem Cosmetics
My name is Tasneem Shahidullah and I am the founder and creator of TASNEEM Cosmetics.
Where did the idea for your company,Tasneem Cosmetics, begin, and how did you start making that idea a reality?
I started TASNEEM Cosmetics when I was 26 so roughly a year and a half ago. My reason to develop the brand was actually quite spontaneous, I’m a lover of makeup especially lipsticks and I would find myself mixing and matching different lip products to create the perfect shade and also formula. Specifically, I would love wearing a matte lipstick base and then topping it with a liquid lipstick because it feels and looks really hydrating but then would last all day. I would also get so many compliments and questions on my lip looks and I would always have to list so many products to people to explain how I achieved the shade or the texture. Then I started researching if there were any products that offered matte lipsticks and liquid lipsticks in one. Having done that research and not finding anything, I was like why don’t I just create this 2-IN-1 product that is completely colour matching, in a killer shade range for skin tones like mine and even deeper.
That then kick started the development process, which was extremely new to me, but super exciting to learn everything from scratch. The process really gives you a sense of patience and achievement.
Tasneem Cosmetics works tocelebrate “all types of people, cultures, and colours”because of your personal identity as a South Asian woman – how did you come to the decision to center your identity and cultural inclusivity in your business? And how has it affected how your company runs today?
I’m Bengali Australian and British and I would describe myself as a complete mix of the 3 backgrounds which is really prevalent in the visual, tone of voice and product development of the brand.
It is important for me to focus on various backgrounds and cultures and also experiences, as for too long mainstream media and the beauty industry simply defaults to typecasting/stereotyping and even worse excluding people from being correctly represented and celebrated.
When people shop TASNEEM Cosmetics, I want them to feel heard and included throughout the entire process.
What would you say is your biggest accomplishment? Personally & work-wise?
Honestly, for me it would be starting TASNEEM Cosmetics and finding the self-confidence and drive to turn my passion project into a full-fledged business that promotes positive change and action in the beauty industry. Also the products are amazing so I’m pretty proud of the tangible too (lol not to boast).
Who inspires you? Do you have any role-models in your life?
I’m inspired by different people every day I don’t just have a select few people that I look up to. I’m inspired by the notion of tenacity and facing adversity and still powering through with positivity and hopefulness.
Your celebration of cultural inclusivity is so exciting to see within your business. What advice would you give other women who want to connect their identities and uplift diversity in their business endeavors?
GO FOR IT! It has been a really cathartic experience for me and I’ve been able to learn so much about myself and other cultures and people. If you genuinely want to embrace diversity, open it up to your business, think about it in every step from product development to who you work with and how you market your business.
Now, for some fun rapid fire questions!
Early bird or Night Owl?
Early bird, it is when I am most creative.
What’s your go-to coffee shop order?
Cappuccino with soy milk (eeehhkk I know soy milk isn’t that good for you but I love the taste).
Favourite comfort food?
All of them! (lol if I had to pick, it would be something spicy).
Anything you’ve recently watched or read that you recommend?
Overachiever Magazine was started by Rehana Paul in October of 2018 to give a platform to all Asian women, non-binary people, and other gender minorities.
Our name is poking fun at the stereotype that all Asians are overachievers, especially Asian women, non-binary people, and other gender minorities. It’s also in recognition of all of us who have had no choice but to be overachievers: managing societal expectations, family obligations, and educational opportunities, all while fighting the patriarchy.
We have grown since then, putting out bimonthly issues (we are contributor powered: apply to write for our next one!), and weekly reviews of culture, and news that is important to us.
You can find announcements, more news, and get to know our staff on social media: give us a follow, and learn how you can get involved today!
We do not claim to speak for all Asian women, non-binary people, and other gender minorities. We are just here to give them a place to speak for themselves.