It was totally unexpected to meet Nawal. It was at an Arab Association event, when a friend knew that I’m doing this Mirastars project he promptly suggested me to meet Nawal. “Everyone in Arab community here knows about Nawal!” Wow, that was what he said and I think that said enough, I was already looking forward to meeting her in person!
Founder, Nawal Haddad Fitness
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Nawal is an Arab grew up in Singapore, unless she identifies herself as Arab, most would have mistaken her as a Malay (she speaks fluent Malay, just like other Arab in Singapore). When she was a student, she used to be very active at track and field. Although she is no longer a runner these days, she’s still a very sporty person.
Upon graduation from tertiary studies (major in biology), Nawal ended up as a researcher in a lab which she did not enjoy. Sitting in a lab writing papers and doing experiments every day? It was clearly not for someone so active like her. Fortunately Nawal figured that out too, she decided to plan something else for herself.
Nawal’s Arab background gave her an idea about fitness for women. Arab loves dancing, they dance to celebrate during occasions like weddings or festive celebrations, so as Nawal. She noticed women are much more comfortable to enjoy themselves if they are in a more feminine environment. Maybe she could start a different career path in the fitness industry? Sports for Nawal is always a way to bond with others, and dance is actually a kind of sports. Let’s start by teaching others how to dance!
Journey to Entrepreneurship
Nawal aspires to empower women through sports and fitness, she wants women to feel comfortable working out and feel good about themselves. She decided to start teaching dance classes for women only. Initially she had 2 classes per week, from logistics (venue), marketing to conducting classes, she managed everything by herself. Marketing was mainly through social media and word of mouth (sometimes free trial classes), it was well received and sold out very quickly for initial classes. At the end of 6 months, she felt this could carry on. It’s time to hire instructors then.
Her first instructor was a friend that she knew for long, they both conducted a class together and soon her friend was on-boarded (still with her today). It didn’t take long for her business to grow, her brand becomes popular among the local community.
It has been more than 3 years now since Nawal left her job as science researcher, she has never looked back. Nawal Haddad Fitness grows from belly dance to different classes now, which includes yoga, zumba and piloxing (pilate and boxing). The core values of her fitness brand have never change though, it is still for women, by women only.
- Many people look at other businesses as competitors, she sees them as collaborators
- Work with friends and family can be sensitive (since money involved), they can have your back but they are also sensitive about money. No matter what / who that person is, black and white is so important to maintain the relationships; it sets clear understanding and expectation
- Always have contingency plan for emergencies
- Try different things and boil down to a few that you like; it’s important to do what you like
- Do regular reality checks, ask yourself what is your intention? Who are you doing this for?
- Try not to be affected by things cannot be controlled; just let it go, ask what’s the deal here? Take a step back, analyse the situation, response and not react. Most of the times we would regret if we react
Nawal Haddad Fitness
- Nawal Haddad Fitness is a fitness brand by women for women only
- 4 different classes are offered now: Yoga, Zumba, Piloxing, Belly Dancing
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