My name is Zada. I am single and currently 28 years old. I wasn’t good at school, so after graduating from high school I started to work at multiple hair salons and learned some skills for many years. I then collected some money and traveled to Dubai to attend workshops on makeup and beauty.

After returning to my city Najaf, I had a certificate in all types of beauty works. Nail design, professional makeup, lash implants, hairdressing, etc. I was asked to work for almost every elite salon in the country. I got so busy working that I almost forgot what was happening in my life. I was making a lot of money but I wasn’t making time for myself or my family.

With the suggestion of a friend, I started taking some hours off and spending time on myself during the day. I set down for yoga and meditation courses. My yoga instructor was an awesome lady who used to spend 50% of her income on people in need and making shelters for animals. This was not something I could easily come across in my country.

At the age of 24, I had all the money I needed to run a business all by myself.

I established my very own beauty salon and I hired lots of employees. I told everyone that the work we did wasn’t only about hiring talented women in the field of beauty, it’s also about being able to create occupations for women who want to be independent and strong. I had 56 people working at my work studio. The work wasn’t only about beauty stuff, anyone with a skill of cooking, cleaning, crafting things, tailoring, and even fortune-telling was able to work there. All my employees had collected certain customers and I didn’t take any money from any of them for working in my studio, because that was my foundational aim. Their growth became my growth and we were recognized.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t need money, but how about my team? These women needed the studio because most of them had kids and no partners or sponsors in life. I did my biggest mistake ever and for being stuck between my emotions and logic, I opened my studio secretly while the lockdown was in effect and I asked everyone to get back to work.

A week later the police arrived and asked everyone but me to leave.

I was charged with a large amount of money for taking responsibility for all my employees and breaking the law during the curfew. I am really sorry for what I have done, I got myself in trouble. I won’t be able to open my place for at least two years. I’m not worried for myself, but I’m praying for my team, and I try to check on them from time to time, making sure they are all fine.