Photos by Nicole Mendoza
Ameera Gaal, who is going into her sophomore year at West Fargo Sheyenne High School, is far from your average teenager. In her spare time she works on her business, Enhanced which won first place at the Young Entrepreneur Academy Investor Panel Shark Tank for her handmade magnetic snap accessories for Hijabs. We sat down with the young entrepreneur to learn more about how she ended up making such an awesome product.
Could you just start by telling me where you got the idea to start making snaps?
I think it really came from a buildup. When I was younger, I had difficulty thinking of myself as beautiful. I started to have low self-esteem. I wanted to find myself beautiful and appreciate who I am as a person. I am also a builder. I try to find accessories to enhance what I already have. That is where I got my name for my business, Enhance. Our goal is to try to enhance what is already there. So other girls like myself could find themselves beautiful.
How do you make the snaps?
First, I have to find rare earth metals. I have to purchase metals that can withstand the elements. I also have to find accessories or make custom accessories if the customer wants them to be customized. Then, I seal the magnets and accessories together leaving me with the finished product.
You mentioned to me earlier that your sister helps you with quite a few different things. What does she help you with?Ah, she helps me solve pretty much everything. If I face aproblem, she’s the person I always go to talk to and find different solutions.
Is the snap you’re wearing for the photoshoot your favorite one you’ve made?
Actually, this is a prototype. I have two designs that I hope to release with my first collection later this year after I’m able to purchase supplies needed.
Is the prototype the one you displayed in competition?
This is different from that one. Actually, the one that I won the award for I ended up giving it to my mentor because I really appreciate how she helped me and I just wanted to say thank you to one of my biggest supporters. It was a form of appreciation.
Where can people find your product?
@enhance.ubeauty. I’m currently only selling on Instagram where I can be dmed privately. I hope to one day have a website up and running, but that is a goal that I am working towards in the future.
I imagine that had to be pretty nerve-wracking going into the actual competition, right?
Yeah, it was really nerve-wracking. I actually have stage fright. So, I shake really bad when I go up there and the words I’m trying to read off the card get all blurry. That’s why, when I was getting my cards, I doubled the size of the letters so I would still be able to read them.
Can you tell me about some things you learned through the experience?
Yeah, I think one of the biggest things I learned is the importance of pacing yourself. You can’t get everything done at the same time, and rushing to get it done isn’t helpful. It’s only going to stress you and cause you to make mistakes that you wouldn’t have if you had taken the time. Not everything comes easily. It takes time. It takes people to help you with it.
Did you always know that you wanted to start a business at some point?
When I was younger, I just kind of wanted to be rich. However, I love doing this. I really do.
Would you say this is your number one passion right now?Yes, this is absolutely my number one passion.
Are there any, specific classes at school that you find yourself drawn to?
So, right now, I hope to take accounting. That’ll help me know how much I’m making and spending. I also wish to take classes to learn a different language. This is to help expand my understanding, and to enrich myself with different cultures.
Did you have friends that you could show off your prototypes to?
Yeah, in fact, I asked some of my best friends to model some of the products for me.
How’s has the reaction from them been?
They’re pretty surprised. They like the product a lot.
Are you really the only one that’s making accessories for hijabs like this? Or is there a market that already exists?
So I will say this is something that already exists. But, before I started this, I did a survey to see how many people actually knew it existed. Because when I first started, I thought I had invented it. I looked it up and was completely baffled that this already existed because I never heard of it. So I was like, ‘hold up, maybe it’s just me.’ In my survey, 80% of people didn’t know what it was. I went back to school the next day and I asked my friends what they thought about the current products? I wrote down all the problems they had with it and I went back the next day to YEA and we started to come up with ways to fix those problems and make them more beautiful. To Enhance them