Self-empowerment is nothing new to Maryam Abdulrahman Kuliya. “A woman should always be empowered.” This powerful ideology first entered Maryam’s life as a little girl, from her mother. Born and raised in Nigeria, Maryam’s mother instilled a sense of independence and self-appreciation in her daughter through example–always finding a way to support and care for her family. She was a great source of encouragement to Maryam, a source that transformed into motivation after a fatal accident in 2011, which also took the lives of her brother and brother-in-law.
Maryam’s cultivated her sense of self in business, completing her Bachelor’s degree in Accounting and Finance and earning a postgraduate degree in Business Administration by 2008. “I have always wanted to be a businesswoman, but I never had the push.” Maryam was unsure as where her interests lie until a close friend of hers in Nigeria started a small business selling exclusive fabric from abroad. Maryam was introduced to the market through this friend, developing a passion for the beautiful silk fabrics from Europe and Switzerland. Her extensive experience abroad assisted in crafting her unique designs. Networking together, Maryam and her friend created a symbiotic relationship between their two businesses, providing quality fabric and service to their clients. Rather than competitors, the two worked together to establish their individual boutiques, with the hope to expand internationally. Shortly after the start of her business, Maryam received word that her husband’s work assigned them to a year in the United States–specifically, Arlington, VA. Determined to take advantage of this opportunity and with the encouragement of her entrepreneurial colleague, Maryam applied to the Entrepreneurial Training for Success program with Empowered Women International. “The first person I called when I was accepted into the ETS program was my friend in Nigeria.”
Maryam’s involvement with EWI has broadened her business horizons, coming full circle–“EWI has become the push I have always needed.” Her increased confidence allowed her to finally imagine her business on an international front, the plans of which will be put into place as she returns to Nigeria. Her product will be marketed primarily to the Nigerian population, as the style and trends are consistent with her culture, with plans of global expansion reaching the African diaspora. She offers top quality fabrics and dresses from Switzerland at affordable prices, already placing her brand above her competitors. Through Maryam’s journey to the United States and her return to Nigeria, she is continuing the legacy of empowerment, passed down from her mother and defining herself on the international market.