The climate of the United States of America has caused an upsurge in Black people doing for self, but the principles of business ownership within the Black community have been taught for decades. The Honorable Elijah Muhammad, the Eternal Leader of the Nation of Islam, is one of those people who taught the value of doing for self in the 30s through 70s. In honor of National Women’s Small Business Month, we decided to highlight these two young Black Muslim women who have taken on the principle of doing for self: Shimah Abdullah-Muhammad out of Chicago, Ill., owner of ShiKey Cosmetics, a handcrafted hair and skincare brand, and Khadijah Muhammad out of Tampa, Fla., owner of Dijah Bakes, a baked goods company.
Joshua’s Truth (JT): Can you describe your business? What is it about, and what type of products/services do you offer?
Shimah Abdullah-Muhammad (SM): At ShiKey Cosmetics, I sell handcrafted, vegan hair and skincare products that work on all ages and ethnicities. My products are packaged in food grade, recyclable plastic and are pH balanced to support healthy hair and skin.
Khadijah Muhammad (KM): Peace Everybody! My name is Khadijah Muhammad, owner of Dijah Bakes, LLC. I am an organic baker who runs a baking business. I offer desserts and baked goods. My motto is: Everything is made with Love, Care, and a Prayer. Love because I love the art of baking. Care because I care what I feed my customers. Prayer because I am a woman of God and want my customers to know that I am nothing without God.
JT: What inspired you to do what you’re doing?
SM: I’ve had a few inspirations. The first being The Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad, who teaches the Black man and woman to “do for self.” I saw fine examples of our people establishing businesses and hiring our youth while growing up in Los Angeles, Calif. I look forward to the day that my company can begin providing jobs and resources to our communities.
Another inspiration is Madame C.J. Walker. She was the first Black female billionaire and made her fortune selling hair products. When I was 8 years old, I portrayed her in a school play, and the seed that was dropped from the portrayal germinated and sprouted in me over time.
In addition to those great examples, I believe that we are experiencing chemical warfare. From our food to our household cleaning materials to our hygiene products and even the air is full of harmful chemicals that are killing us. Those who control this country know this and are not taking action, which only leads me to believe that it is deliberate. The only way to fight is to arm ourselves with knowledge and use that knowledge to protect ourselves and our loved ones.
KM: I started baking at the age of 20. One day, my mother taught me how to bake a pound cake. It was a gift I didn’t know I had and fell in love with the craft. As a former server, it felt good to serve my own product to friends and family.
My mother inspired me to start. The Teachings of The Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad inspires me to keep going. After reading How to Eat to Live, I decided to provide the best quality desserts, free from harmful chemicals, food dyes, pork byproducts, etc.
JT: What is one of the biggest challenges you faced, and how did you overcome it?
SM: The biggest challenge I’ve faced has been my own self-doubt. I’m actually still overcoming it (smile). Aside from that, it has been very challenging to balance family life with my Husband and Son, house duties, along with business.
KM: I would say one of the biggest challenges I’ve had in my business is working alone. With being the baker, web designer, content creator, marketing, customer service and more, it can become very overwhelming. I haven’t fully overcome this challenge. However, I do have help from my family when needed.
JT: What is the vision for the business? How do you see it growing/expanding?
SM: I plan to structure my business in a way that I will be able to allow others who wish to make money in their own free time with a trusted brand to do so. I would like to have ShiKey Representatives in all cities who will buy wholesale from our factory and sell our products to their client list that they have developed by using our marketing tools.
KM: My vision is for Dijah Bakes, LLC to grow into a business that will be nationally known. Different franchises around the U.S. and abroad. I personally don’t plan to bake for the rest of my life, but I do want to be able to employ our youth and those who find joy in baking. I also have my Dijah Bakes character. I would like for my character to be known to young Black and Brown girls all over the world. I believe having positive representations of ourselves matter.
JT: What advice would you give to other young women who want to go into business for themselves?
SM: I would advise them to find something that they are passionate about, that they believe in, that will help solve a problem and monetize it.
KM: If you have a gift and something you’re passionate about, do it. Make it a business. Business is the activity of life, as taught to us by the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan.
JT: Is there anything on the horizon, as far as new products or services or even projects or events?
SM: I just launched my Lavender Hair Care line, and it has sold out twice so far. ShiKey will soon be sold in a few Black-owned beauty supply stores (TBA). Also, I want all the readers to subscribe to the email list through the site to receive exclusive discounts.
KM: Absolutely! I strive to stay in creative mode and think of innovative ideas. I do have classes coming up and new products will be added to Dijah Bakes! Stay tuned!
JT: How can people support and patronize your business?
KM: Follow me on all social medias: @DijahBakes. Orders can be placed at dijahbakes.com. I ship nationwide.