We had the good fortune of connecting with Zakiyyah Ali and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Zakiyyah, what’s your definition for success?
I believe that success is what you decide it is. What may be considered successful to some, might not be considered the same to others. As long as you are happy and living within your purpose, you are going to find your meaning of success. For years I was the person who was chasing the dream of being an important business woman. I wanted to the big corner office, the company car, the assistant making coffee runs and power. Little did I know that all of those things came with a price. I was working late nights, feeling unappreciated at work, getting calls on weekends, missing important events in my friend’s and family’s lives, and neglecting the creative side of myself that keeps me motivated and inspired. I no longer had time to live out my passions that made me uniquely me (gardening, family time, baking, piano playing, being emotionally available in my relationships, family planning, etc.). Now don’t get me wrong; it is possible to do all of these things, but would I be truly happy living a life of juggling my work and home life with no rest in between? Would I be happy with working to build someone else’s dream instead of building and nurturing my own? I came to a point where I had a breakdown and couldn’t continue on this path. I thought to myself, “There has to be a better way”. I then went through a phase of changing my mindset. It started with writing down what MY ideal career and work day would look like, how much money I want to earn, and the purpose behind why I was doing it. It is so easy to get caught up in what everyone else is doing and how they are moving through life instead of being happy and proud of where YOU are and what YOU have accomplished. I had to write out my achievements and strengths. By starting there, I was able to find my passions for helping people and as long as you are happy with what you choose as a career, that should be defined as your meaning of success. Practice self reflection daily, and continue to discover new things about yourself! You will find your way and whatever that is, as long as you are happy and living your truth, you are successful.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
My name is Zakiyyah Ali, and I am the founder of A Woman’s Werk, LLC. A Woman’s Werk was created to help women to turn their business ideas into a tangible business plan. As the founder, I started off working a 9-5 job where I was unhappy and felt unappreciated. I was also struggling with my health at the time and eventually reached a breaking point. I decided that there had to be a better way to make a living each day. I was not investing any of my time to help build & nourish my own dreams, but instead to build someone else’s! After talking to many women around my age, I realized that I was not alone in my thinking. I also had the unspoken pressures of my biological clock ticking and knowing that I wanted to start a family, get married, and have a thriving career! It became overwhelming and I knew that I had to break free of the societal norms. I am in control of my meaning of success, and I have time!! I have TIME!!! I have the rest of my life to figure out my path and no one can put an expiration date on my dreams! With a new mindset, I then decided to take back control of my life and it was freeing! I wanted to share the revelation with other women who might be feeling the same way! I started to do things that inspired me and one of those things was to start group meetings to help women to narrow down their professional goals. Group meetings turned into workshops, and that is how A Woman’s Werk came to life! It was not an easy process, but the number one lesson that I have learned is that you find more success through collaboration instead of beating out the competition! There is room for everyone to be successful and if your intentions are good, you will find great success. Empowered women, empower women. Continue to live out your purpose, and the rest will follow!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
If I could take my bestie out for a night on the town, I would go to my favorite restaurant in Chicago called Cite! Cite is located in the Lake Point Tower and gives you a fabulous panoramic view of the city’s skyline with a MARVELOUS spread of the most delicious food you could ever eat! I would also try to squeeze a spa day in at MeSpa in downtown Naperville, and see a comedy show at the Laugh Factory in River North! There are truly endless possibilities to have a great time in Chicago! I have lived here all of my life and yet there is still SO much that I have yet to see!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I owe all of my success to my parents! Without them and their sacrifices, I certainly wouldn’t be where I am today. They taught me to carry on the legacy of my ancestors and continue to move through this life with a serving heart. I use that as motivation everyday and it is what drives me to help others through whatever line of work that I choose. As for organizations that I want to shout out, I would like to mention the Global Graduate Fellows. I have recently partnered with them by helping to create a course that is designed to help students and young professionals gain access to entrepreneurial resources! They are a tremendous non profit organization whose values align with my own and I am so lucky to have had the opportunity to work with them! You can check out our new INNOVATE course at www.gradprep.org.