“Elevate Your Voice” Entrepreneur Spotlight: Nada Hassan

This article is part of a 12-part profile series that seeks to capture the thoughts and ideas of entrepreneurs in Inkster, Dearborn/Dearborn Heights, Ecorse, and River Rouge. This series is made possible through the New Economy Initiative’s “Elevate Your Voice” campaign, designed to help inform entrepreneurship support, and amplify authentic voices in the small business ecosystem. This profile features Nada Hassan, owner of Paint with Nada, based in Dearborn, Michigan. 
Can you share a little bit about your business?

My business is Paint with Nada, which was established in January of this year. I cater paint parties for all events and all ages. When people hire me for their event, I provide the guests with all the needed art supplies to participate in a guided painting session. When it’s over, they have a custom, self painting they get to keep. During the session, they learn the names of the materials and some skills for the painting process. It was created mainly for a fun experience, and to encourage people to practice art more. I typically customize the paintings based on the event. I get a lot of requests for birthday parties, mostly for younger girls, so I create a painting to match the theme. If I'm doing an event for the public, I choose the painting, and try to make it fun and light and attractive for all ages. I am an artist with a degree in graphic design. Art is something I’m passionate about. I've been drawing since I was a kid, and I enjoy working with kids, so I thought, why not combine the two and come up with a business idea? 

What would you say inspired you to plant business roots in the Dearborn community? 

I was born in Dearborn, but raised overseas. I've been living in the Dearborn community for over 16 years, so I'm part of the community. I have friends and family who live here, and I feel that there is a need for exposure to art, especially for younger kids. Growing up, I was not encouraged as an artist. I was not encouraged to practice art because our parents want us to have a successful career when we grow up, and become a doctor or something in the medical field or an engineer. So they just treated it as a hobby that I like to draw in my free time, and I wanted to change that. I want to encourage everybody, not just kids, to practice art. It starts sometimes just by exposing them to art, teaching them one thing at a time, and encouraging them to practice art. That's what led me to start a business in the community.

How have you been able to find or access capital needed for your business? 
Since my business is remote, I don't need a physical location. I prepare everything at home and I go to the event. So I wasn't in much need of capital except for the art supplies, which the profit that I make from events covers the costs of the materials, for now. But that might be something that might change in the future. I might want to expand and have my own studio or something, but for now I'm managing, I would say.

What are your current business goals?

Of course more exposure, more clients, more interest. The goal is to expand my business, maybe franchise it where it can still be done remotely. I think that is the future, not having a location. I don't think that it is very necessary to have my own studio to host people. I can do it at the comfort of people's homes or venues, but just growing it more. I would also say expanding my clientele, and expanding the services I offer. It's still relatively a new idea, so it's still brewing in my head, and I’m trying to figure out what people want, what there is a need for, and how I can provide those needs.

What would you say are some resources you need to achieve those goals?

The main thing is business education, such as how to manage finances. There are a lot of resources online now, but I feel in-person workshops have been helpful a lot, and networking has been helpful. As an artist, I'm not naturally a people person. Artists are mostly introverts. They tend to work on their own and enjoy it. So it's a challenge to just put yourself out there and market yourself because when you're an introvert, you prefer working on your own. So learning how to market yourself and believing in yourself for self-development and business development would be helpful.

If someone came to you and gave you the best resource guidance for your business goals, what would support from that resource look like for you?
The main resource would be how to manage a business, and also promoting my business. That would be very helpful because I notice there's a lot of interest for people who find out about my business and they tell me, “We've been looking for something like this.” They say, “My kids are really interested,” and they ask for more services like private lessons. So I think that would help with coming up with new ideas and new solutions for problems to fulfill the needs of my audience and promote my business. 

Fill in the blank: ____ has been a really good resource for me. Please share how or why. 

ACCESS (Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services) has been a really good resource for me by providing workshops for women entrepreneurs, providing resources and support. I think that has been really helpful. I've attended a couple of workshops and they introduced me to networking as well as guiding me through how to start a business like the need to register a business and who I can contact. They also connected me to banks. I haven't necessarily had the time to utilize all these resources, but I have as much as I can. And, of course, reading self-education books, and watching tutorials. There are a lot of resources online that are helpful, but I feel in-person workshops are the most helpful.

What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced in starting, growing, or sustaining your business? 

I would say that one of the biggest challenges was, first of all, believing in myself and believing in the idea of creating a new business. Ten years ago, if someone had suggested that idea to me, I would not have taken it, so that was one of the challenges that I've overcome, just to believe in myself and start. As for growing and sustaining the business, I would say finding clientele and pricing my services and how the clients receive the pricing of my services. Some of them might find it too pricey or that they could not afford it, or they probably don't know the value of what they're getting or the work and effort that is put into the service. They only see the end result, which is one hour, but they don't see all the work in preparation and the education and my background that I've gone through to get to where I am. So I think it's just finding the right clients and my target audience.

If you met a new business owner in the community, what is the first resource you would recommend connecting them with to help them succeed within your city? Who would you connect them with outside of your city?

I would connect them to whoever helped me get started. It could be a mentor. It could be a personal friend who is a mentor. And some organizations like ACCESS. All of these organizations have been helpful in guiding me, and providing tips and resources. As far as outside of the city, it depends on their service, but it could be a person, it could be a business owner, it could be a friend or family member who has interest or who could have experience in that service or the work they do. I think networking is very important. That’s what I try to tell new business owners. Networking is very helpful and it could easily guide you in ways that you haven't thought of, and it could be easier than you thought. It sounds overwhelming to meet new people, but once you start doing it, it just gets easier talking from an introvert perspective.

What would you say is a shared issue, concern or challenge among the entrepreneurs and small businesses in your community?

I think, number one, after you've established your business, is marketing. If you don't market and put yourself out there or don't know how to do it or don't have the resources to do it, then people will not know about you and your business won't work. So it's all about marketing for anything that you do, whether you're selling a product or a service. Second is funding. A lot of people suffer because it’s a challenge to get funding, to start a business or maintain it, especially with the recession now and after COVID-19 and all that. Everybody's going through the same issue with inflation, so that is another challenge. 
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