Author: Brooke

Talking Business with The Shawl Label for SISTERS Magazine

For the October issue of SISTERS Magazine Aida Azlin explained to me how “It’s all about Sisterhood” with her fresh and exciting clothing (and tech stuff!) business. Brooke Benoit: The idea of entrepreneurship can be really terrifying. At what point did you know that this was your path? And how did you prepare yourself to walk it? Aida Azlin: I don’t think there is any perfect formula that will ever prepare you to walk on the path of entrepreneurship! I’ve always thought that I was an “accidental entrepreneur” because I never really set out to be one. But I now realise that there are no accidents in life, as everything is beautifully and perfectly planned by Allah. Early in our marriage, when my husband and I were seriously considering moving back to Morocco, my husband asked me, “What do you want to do when you are back in Morocco, Aida?” I remember telling him that I really wanted to learn how to quilt and sew. I wanted to source for fabrics and just spend my days working with my hands. My husband was the one who suggested to me that “You should really consider selling shawls. Everyone wears them anyway!” To be honest, I was very, very, very, very hesitant about it. I felt that there were already too many shawl sellers out there, and they were all doing a brilliant job. But...

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Mothering Mondays: Maybe It’s A Convert Thing or How Brooke Got Her Sparkle Back

Carnelian, turquoise, fine and sterling silver charmed bracelet. Have you heard the one about the convert who accepted a recited surah for her marriage? Or a promise of hajj or a complete set of Sahih Bukhari? If you know me, then you know how disinclined I am to make generalizations, however in this instance it is only converts to Islam who I know waive decent mahrs or accept token 14k gold sets from Macy’s or maybe a Ben Franklin (100 US dollars) as their complete mahr. Here is where I will caveat that this post is about me, me, me- another reflection for the #motherhoodproject, so while he is entangled in my mothering mess- this is not meant to be a reflection on my husband. I was one of those converts. I got a Gucci watch and a 15-speed bicycle for my mahr. My teen now rides that bike and my tween is coveting the watch. Back then, I (haughtily) didn’t even wear gold, so silver didn’t make much sense for a wedding gift anyway, but then a strange thing happened on the way from the marriage negotiations to the onset of motherhood less than a year later- NO jewelry was bought by or for me. None. This is especially odd considering I worked in a boutique that sold lovely handmade/designer jewelry. And I did use to wear jewelry all the...

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Having a large family

It surprises me how many Muslims respond negatively at my having a large family. Worse is when they nearly reprimand me, demanding to know if I am “done” at six kids. I thought we all knew this one: Wealth and children are an adornment of the worldly life. But the enduring good deeds are better to your Lord for reward and better for [one’s] hope.(Surah Al Kahf: 46) I’m not into name brands. Having kids is mything. Well, I have a few dunya-ey things that I really like to do, but raising my pack of kids is my main thing and not only do I give it a lot of my time and consideration, I do it pretty well and get a fair amount of satisfaction from it. Alhumdulillah. Over the years I have found that there are a lot of benefits (not just for me) to having a big family. Here are just a few: Learning to labor Parenting begins with birth, and if you are birthing your own kids you may not realize what a crisis modern birthing practices are going through in the US (and just about everywhere) until you are actually in...

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Coming down the mountain

It has been two years since my family of eight moved from cosmopolitan Casablanca, Morocco, to a ram-packed earth house in a rural village in the High Atlas Mountains. Insha Allah, by the time you read this we will have traversed the two hour windy road down the mountain and then driven several more hours to our new seaside home and I will have already installed our dishwasher, stocked the fridge with our much-missed favourite condiments and have taken over an entire room in the house to serve solely as my office-studio. But right this very moment I am in that unique waffling space between annoyance at everything in my current environment and being excited at the possibilities with the move. In this spirit I thought it best to reflect on the best and the worst of my experiences way up here. Things I will miss about living in a rural farming community in the mountains: * The immense beauty It is incredible here. When I think about how much time I spend indoors here and wonder what difference would it make where I live, all I have to do is tilt my head and take a peek out the window. Subhan Allah. * The wildlife My kids have learned plenty about the food production cycle by watching and helping our neighbours raise their own animals, but they have...

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Antique Moroccon Coin and Glass Assemblage Necklace

Last month I spent a week in Essaouira on the southernish shore of Morocco. I went for the purposes of respite from the bulk of my kids (just took the 10 and 12 year old boys), to do some annual household shopping and especially to do some business related shopping, meaning beads! Essaouira is a great little town with lots of yummy places to eat and loads of traditional, artisanal boutiques. We stayed in a quiet little spot in the medina, only leaving it for a couple of brief trips to the beach and the grocery store, which had a really disappointing...

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