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The Making of SoaperStar: Shehna Falila Mulk

Having spent the better part of her childhood bouncing between Dhaka and London, Shehna has had the opportunity to meet people from different walks of life and experience a multitude of cultures. Her understanding of the world and its ways has made her incredibly decisive. She has always had the knack of knowing exactly what she wants, and she has always been prepared to do whatever it takes to get what she wants. Her ability to single-mindedly focus on her goals has worked in her favor time and again – it got her into her dream college, it made her an accomplished solicitor, and it eventually led her to initiate a successful business, led by her passion.

 

Getting in the London School of Economics had been a challenge of Shehna's life. Even though she had always been a gifted student, she had to buckle down and study hard to create a position for herself in her dream college. In LSE, Shehna chose to study law. According to Shehna, the inclination to become a solicitor came to her naturally. As a few of her family members had previously served in this noble profession, Shehna felt as if it was in her blood.

After completing her studies, Shehna worked as a Lecturer in London for some time. Her life in London was good, but it was somehow still not satisfying enough- "It's weird how you can have everything that you've ever wanted in your life and still be empty," remarked Shehna, In one moment of clarity, Shehna decided to come  to Bangladesh for a while, "I usually follow my gut feeling, my intuition, and just go with the flow, knowing that everything happens for a reason, and it always works out in the end" said the radical risk-taker. 

It was Shehna's mother's idea for her to continue her career as an advocate at the High Court. Shehna described her time at court as a learning experience. This was a side of Bangladesh she had never been exposed to, she felt foreign in her own land, but she got her bearings, and when she did, she responded not by adapting to the hostile culture, but by rebelling against it.

 "On my first day in Court, I pretended to not feel the shoves. On the second day, I gave them as good as I got," Shehna commented. She has always been a rebel when it came to what is fair and just, refusing to accept norms. What is right is right, what is wrong is unacceptable is the moral code she follows. 

Interestingly, her time in Court made her realize that her life back in London had become too monotonous for her taste. Her new life in Dhaka presented her with chaos and opportunities, and Shehna had grown to like it. So when a job offer from Eastern Bank Limited landed on her doorsteps, she decided to take it and didn't feel the need to look back in the slightest.

Shehna fit in well in her new job. Her consistent work earned her fast promotions, causing her to climb the ranks very quickly. However, Shehna soon started to feel stagnated in her professional growth. Her superiors thought that she was too young to hold the high position that she did and discouraged further promotions. After 8 long years, she felt the same monotony.

"I realized that I did not want to spend my good years stuck in a building and chained to a chair only to get paychecks. Life isn't and should never be about that! I felt stagnated- my greatest fear." said Shehna. At this point in her career, Shehna realized that it was time to move on to better things, but she did not know what. It was during this period of upheaval that Shehna and her family visited Makkah for pilgrimage.

 

“Standing in front of the Holy Kaaba, I asked for one thing- to show me my life's purpose” said the fresh entrepreneur. In less than a month of her spiritual journey, she stumbled upon an article on how to make home-made soaps. She was intrigued to try it, her inner voice encouraging her to start took center stage and resulted in the ever-growing organic lifestyle brand that is now SoaperStar. Shehna's experimenting resulted in some amazing products which she decided to share with her sister and friends, all of whom were very impressed and suggested that she turn her little newfound hobby into a full-fledged business. She loved making soaps: "it's so therapeutic! The focus, attention to minute details, the studying and learning- every moment of it I just loved!” said the original SoaperStar herself. Thus, out of pure passion and following an inner voice, SoaperStar was born.

"I always say that its magical, this Journey of SoaperStar- I always wanted to make a difference in the world, I had no idea that it would be in the form of organic products that would help people cleanse themselves and benefit from nature's bounties!” concluded Shehna.    

She started educating more and more people on the benefits of using organic products and on the harms of chemicals through videos, messages and one-on-one conversations at trade fairs. Her passion and dedication reflected in her products and soon, the orders started flooding in. Everyone told me to focus on the expat community because there was a huge demand for handmade cosmetics. But I wanted to create a market myself when none existed, so I focused on everyone I came across. It is more than a business, it is a message and I am determined to spread it as well as I can- we have done enough harm to ourselves using toxic things and ruining our planet! She decided to quit her job at EBL, a decision that was questioned by many. Determined in her decision, she started her venture with every cent she saved from her employment provident fund. It was a risk, a little scary putting everything into a business that did not have a big audience, but sometimes you have to put your foot down and go with what you believe. Soon, more opportunities for achieving higher sales opened up for the glowing innovator in the form of collaborations – first with Horse and Horse Patisserie, and subsequently with Unimart. The fact that there was such a high demand for organic products in Bangladesh surprised Shehna greatly, and she started to increase her range of products, trying to fulfill her customers' desires.

It was during working on SoaperStar that something very important occurred to Shehna. She realized life should be about doing what you love. It should be about what makes you happy, finding your purpose and trying to fulfill it. Most people are too scared to venture out of their comfort zone, without realizing that it is only when you venture out, that you begin to see the magic that you carry inside of you.  As for Shehna she knows the answer to her happiness, she is going to spend the rest of her life doing the things that she loves.

You. Yes, you.
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