WMW #6: Marina Valievaa, mum of 2, founder of Sascha Wear harem pants for mums and kids
"I would probably have never done what I am doing now if I was not a mother"
A few months ago, I went to a pop-up market at Dubai Ladies Club. Marina’s colourful stand with funky harem pants caught my attention immediately and I ended up with some really cool summer wear from her shop, made by her!
We ended up talking and we had so much in common, along with a mutual appreciation of each other being mums of small children. I was so inspired by her story to start her own design wear shop after being made redundant from her job. It just tells us that where there is a will, there is a way and anything is possible, you just have to want it. We all have something to offer, sometimes we just need to look a little harder to find it.
She is very candid and honest in her interview, a trait I value tremendously. I hope you enjoy this chat with her and I highly recommend checking out her store to stack up on your summer wear!
Meet Marina Valievaa, mum of two (one on the way!), founder of harem pants at Sascha Wear for mums and kids
Q. Tell us a little bit about yourself
My name is Marina and I have lived and worked in Dubai for the last 17+ years as a personal assistant and an office manager with broad HR functions. I am originally from Russia; my husband moved to Dubai the same year we met and it was 5 years ago! Unbelievable how time flies.
As for my hobbies if I were to be very honest, when I was single I didn't have any hobbies or interests, except the years when I sat on a road bike and would ride weekly about 50km on average. That’s it! I never had any particular interests or a hobby I could proudly speak of. It is only now after becoming a mother I started to look inward and think about what I did as a child and what I would like my child see me do. When my daughter was about 3-months old, I took a yoga teacher training course and I am so glad that I could do it. Very interesting, isn’t it, how I went from no real interests to many!?
Q. You are a mum to a toddler, founder of Sascha Wear where you make your own Harem pants, a company that you launched during the pandemic - tell us a bit about that. What inspired its launch, and how it’s going?
I am a mum to 2.5 year old girl, and yes, motherhood does keep us moving and roaring the engine! As I said, I never really had any interest in doing something aside from my normal job, but after becoming a mum I felt compelled to discover what else I can do.
I was made redundant in April 2020, and I was in shock. The company was run by my friends; I left my job to join them in their business and I really never expected to lose my job with them.
After that I applied for so many jobs but the offers were ridiculous. Working in a job with a low salary and having to leave a small child with someone else, and pay for that with a low salary just didn’t make any sense. So my inspiration isn’t quite rosy and magical, but more from practical necessity.
Anyhow, whilst sitting at home I sewed a few things for my daughter, and there was a pair of harem pants which was a hit when people saw her in them. One mum asked me to make one for her daughter, another yoga soul said it’s cute and asked for a pair for her little one. That's how I found I could monetize the idea and help my jobless self get back into the game :)
So that's how Sascha Wear was born, and it is named after my daughter Sascha. It's almost a year now from the first day I purchased my first 5-7 pieces/prints of fabrics, and I have to say thanks to this country for supporting small businesses; to many ambitious organizers for giving us opportunity to expose our SME at different events; and most importantly to our many lovely clients, who kept us afloat. Whilst mainly selling at pop-up markets for the last 7-8 months, now we have our new website, which is a giant step for us. Here I have to thank my husband :)
Q. What is your ultimate goal as a working mum?
As a mum I would like to spare more time for my child, for her development, for her education; just be more present with her. Even the smallest business takes all my day time, and although I have to continue my business, I feel I would like to spend more conscious time with my daughter. She has grown so fast, she now has proper adult dialogue with me and I always wonder how did this happen so quickly!? What did I miss? How come she already builds a stories or sings a song which I didn't make her sit and learn? I try so hard not to miss these moments!
Q. Where do you get your inspiration?
This might sound corny, but I see inspiration everywhere. There are so many talented people around, so many bright projects online or offline. I see inspiring characters in everyone. My clients give me an idea of what prints and styles they like. “I want something loose and comfortable; I want something modest, practical with pockets; it must be lightweight,” for example.
So yes, motherhood and being practical are the keys to my inspiration, and you can see that in my clothes!
Q. What is your best productivity hack?
Hmmm, as a girl I loved to procrastinate; I'd keep things till the last moment where I know I will finish it in two hours; not now, but later! I don't like that in me. To-do lists works great for me. Listing down 1-2-3 points by dates, gives me a great kick to get things done.
And, I have learned from these newsletters at Working Mums Club to use online services for household chores - that is saving me 4 hours a day minimum lately. Order online, call the cleaners to help; so my next move is to use food/meal planners.
Q. What is your parenting mantra?
Oh, I can easily lose the plot. And I also understand being a ‘mad mum’ isn't going to help to raise a child without trauma. So I try to breath in and breath out when I am frustrated. I try to explain if there is a chance. I also read somewhere "connect, before you correct". That is so easy to follow.
Q. What do you do in your 'me-time' and how does it help you?
My me-time is my yoga. Even 30-45 minutes of yoga upstairs after my husband is back from work, is a great help for both my mind and body. I still miss group yoga classes though. Going to the spa or the salon is also good but sadly I don't have that much time and frankly, nothing beats yoga! I won’t get refreshed inside out if I only did my nails. Yoga awakens all my body and muscles; I can sit or lie in shavasana and just relax. It allows me to listen to my body, be in my body, and be in my mind, all by myself. So leveling the blood flow in the body is so helpful; it helps me not to turn into a ball of stress and anxiety.
Q. Did becoming a mother change the way you think about work? How so?
Absolutely. I would probably have never done what I am doing now if I was single or not a mother. It is now because I have to act, I have to be able to afford a living, further education and so much more. In an ideal scenario, I would choose to be with my children until they are 3-years old.
Q. What were your biggest learnings?
Try again. Try again. And try again. That's what I tell my daughter too - just try again! If one door shuts, knock another. And keep asking questions; there are no silly questions!
Q. What's it like being a mumpreneur?
Strangely, I still don't feel like I am one (?) :) It definitely makes me proud of myself. Some days I question my life and existence, and other days I look back and see what I accomplished in less than one year. And there is so much I can do. So much I can bring into this space of ‘trendy mom fashion’.
Q. What is your advice to new mums looking to start working again?
I have two opinions. I was back at a 9-5 job on the 46th day after giving birth. It wasn't a catastrophe, but it did hurt a bit. Seeing my tiny one on my phone made me sad. If you have a chance to stay with your child while they are small; stay as long as you can.
If not, it is not that bad. Going back to work helped me not lose my sanity. I wouldn't have loved myself staying in pjs all day, and being out and about can be quite expensive in Dubai. If you like to be independent and do not want to lose your identity as a professional, then go to work. There are so many opportunities, especially in this digital world there is so much to do, it’s only a will away. Everything is manageable / adjustable to do with a child, so as long as it brings you a joy, go fo it!
Q. Favourite tool that makes your life easier?
Online shopping and cleaning services. I rather run around the whole of Dubai and get 7 pants delivered than spend my time cleaning. Don't get me wrong, I love cleaning, I only started using cleaning services recently and it gave me so much space for myself.
Q. Parenting book / advice that was a game changer for you?
None. I haven't read any parenting book, although I have them saved in words, in audio, my husband has got me some printed stuff. I do occasionally listen to psychologist Yulia Gippenreyter, when my brain isn't storming. And I would love to have more time in the day I can dedicate for reading. Sorry, can't brag here! Can’t we actually use our intuition here, in parenting? (*laughing*)
Q. Favourite quote
A rolling stone gathers no moss. (I had to google the English version as it sounds a little different in Russian “no water runs under a laying stone”, but it is the same meaning.) If we don't move, we stagnate.
Q. Best thing you have read or watched lately
My manual from yoga teacher training? Honestly, there is no time to read. If any one has any recommendations, I will happily take them! I keep my yoga books handy so I don’t forget all the trainings. A great one is Yoga as Medicine. And The Illustrated Light on Yoga by Iyengar.
We recently watched the movie “Don't look up”. It is great. We may find it a comedy, but well, it actually has deep meaning. There is some strong dialogue in there that makes you think, and the one that stood out most for me was when DiCaprio's character says "The thing of it is we really" - he pauses - "we really did have everything, didn't we?"
I hope you enjoyed this chat with Marina! If you liked what you read, please share. And don’t forget to check out her store at Sascha Wear.
If you want to connect with Marina, please comment below and I will make sure she gets your message.
Have a superb week!