Fahmina is currently the owner of a successful jewelry business, but she never expected to end up where she did. Through job hunts, lay-offs, and inner turmoil, she has persisted and found the courage to go after her dreams time, and time again. Her story speaks to the positive consequences of being brave, trying new things, and paving the way even when circumstances appear bleak.
This story was recorded and produced in partnership with StoryCorps.
“I was born and raised in Bangladesh. I was born in a city called Dhaka, and my story begins there in Bangladesh, a densely populated country, 95 percent Muslim, as I am (I’m a Sunni). It’s a great place to grow up as a child, because I got everything that my parents could possibly provide. I come from a middle-upper class family, and went to really good schools, everything was fine and dandy and then after high school I decided to follow my dreams and come to the United States to pursue higher education. After I graduated, I struggled from job to job, and then I finally knew what I wanted to do: Every time I would attend or assist in planning a wedding, ceremony, or event, I would always be so fascinated with jewelry and the precious stones that are in there, and stuff like that. I was working for an engineering firm at that point, and after I got laid off I sat down and was like, ‘you know what? I’m just going to go and take a trip to Europe for a couple months.’ And right before I purchased my ticket, I rewrote my resume and I said, ‘you know what, I’m just going to put it in Career Builder and see what happens.’
I put my resume up on Friday — I remember that — and Monday afternoon I got a call from this company, and they were a diamond and jewelry company, and they called and said: ‘we looked over your resume, and you don’t fit all the criteria, but in your resume you said that if the opportunity arises, you would be more than happy to work for a jewelry company,’ and they said, ‘that’s what we’re calling you about, would you like to be a runner for us?’ A runner is someone who takes diamonds from a supplier and run it over to the retailers, and the retailers will return whatever they didn’t sell, and run it back to the supplier. You’re basically running all day to, like, fifty or sixty different retailers; it was a pretty hectic job but I learned so much. So I started my job Tuesday, and I was their runner for about four or five days, when one of the managers stepped out for lunch, and I was the only person in the shop and a couple of customers came in, and I ended up selling something for four-thousand dollars. I remember that because when [the manager] came back, she was like, ‘what happened?’ because I was writing up an appraisal, and she was like, ‘well, how do you know how to do that?’ I said, ‘well, I watched you.’ She made me a salesperson that day, and I was a salesperson for about three months before I became the manager of that store.
I would say the best thing I have learned is: if you stay focused, if you stay strong, and not let other people break you, not let other people talk you out of what you have in mind and what your vision is, you can do whatever you want in this world. You can make your dream come true. I’m going on my fourth year in the business and I have over 428 clients, I believe. It doesn’t matter where you come from in the world, but what I would say is, if you know who you are, and if you know what you want to do in life, that’s all you really need. You know, just pursue your dreams however it becomes possible because if I can do what I am doing today, then anybody can do whatever they have in their minds because it’s impossible for me to think that I own a jewelry business, and that it is now a million-dollar business. It’s amazing for a person who got laid off after 9/11; I was actually looking for change under my couch to buy one taco for that day! America has so much to offer, and for the Muslim community I would say that we are all one, and we just need to stick together and make sure that we march ahead, and not let anybody bring us down.”