We had the good fortune of connecting with Ummehani Karimjee and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Ummehani, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
Like most creatives, my business began as a hobby. I was always into the various forms of art as a child, but in terms of my academic future, I was initially considering something in the medical field. My beloved daughter, Zahra, was born in my last semester of college, and I put aside everything to raise her. I enjoyed creating the decorations for her birthday celebrations, and it slowly grew into small backdrops for my family’s and friends’ events in our community mosque. I wasn’t able to go back to school because my daughter was diagnosed with a terminal illness when she turned two, and she required my constant care. During this time, my mother-in-law really pushed me to create something of my little hobby. It was something I could do for myself without compromising my daughter’s care. I was able to work from home at nights while she was asleep and prep everything for the few events in my community, and the only time I was away from her was for a few hours when I went to set up. As she grew, her love of flowers led me to begin exploring floral design and incorporating this skill into my work. She loved it when I brought flowers home. I taught myself how to work with flowers and studied the resources and videos put out there by other florists. This is where I found true hope and joy; amongst the flowers, I saw purity, innocence, and the beauty of life- all symbolic to who my daughter was in this world. So, this is how Beginnings was born and continues: from home, for the love of art, and primarily, for the love of my daughter.

Please tell us more about your work. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
I began drawing as a child, and these turned to black and white charcoal illustrations. I eventually discovered paint and experimented with the world of color. During my free time, I was always crafting or creating something: pottery, sewing, paper craft- you name it. Once I started working with flowers, I utilized all these skills to begin something that came naturally to me. For my first floral installation (my first time ever working with fresh flowers), I designed a backdrop with a suspended cloud made out of baby’s breath. I tinted the cloud in shades of baby blue, lilac, and pink to have an ethereal and whimsical effect, and I hung glass birds out of the clouds. When the bride stood before the backdrop, she was underneath the cloud with glass birds swirling all around her. It was truly breathtaking. This is what I am proud about- my first debut into the floral industry and my signature. It was unique, beautiful, and created a spectacular moment for my bride. That’s what we are all about.

It hasn’t been easy entering the wedding industry. As my roots began in my community’s mosque, I didn’t know anyone in this industry beyond those boundaries. The Covid-19 Pandemic also temporarily shut down everything just as I started off. However, over the last year, I have been able to meet and connect with other vendors over social media, been a part of a few fabulous styled shoots, and have had the pleasure of freelancing for some of the most talented florists in the industry.

I’ve learned that it’s a huge step to take when you’re deciding to venture out on your own. It requires a lot of courage and pushing down that fear that constantly whispers: “What if I fail?” But, I’ve also learned that it’s okay to ask for help, lean on your loved ones, and reach out to others. There are so many people out there that are happy to collaborate with you and other more experienced designers ready to help you and mentor you. That’s the best part about this industry: these are your co-workers, and they are all doing what they do because they are genuinely passionate about their craft. You’re never alone.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Let me just say: I love Houston! It is such a beautiful city that offers so much variety in terms of experiences and something for everyone. I’m Muslim, so when it comes to dining out we only eat vegetarian, halal, and we don’t drink alcohol. Here is my ideal itinerary to show someone about town.

Day 1: NASA and Kemah Boardwalk after to soak in some sun by the sea. Watch the sunset from the boardwalk, eat at Pizza Oven for dinner, and finish off with Sweet Scoops for dessert. Ideally, we would drive from Kemah to Galveston and spend the night at a beach house there.

Day 2: Galveston! I actually lived here for 4 years for college and while my husband attended UTMB Medical School. For this day we would have a relaxing morning at the beach and then visit IHOP on Seawall for brunch right after. This IHOP is situated right across the beach and has a happy vibe with amazing views of the ocean. Later in the afternoon we would go to The Strand. The Strand is the cutest place; it’s Galveston’s downtown area, and it looks straight out of a vintage Hollywood movie set due to its character and architecture. Here, we would walk around, take selfies, and explore the cute little shops. There’s an ice cream place- La Kings – which is set up as an old time ice cream parlor and candy shop. If you go there at the right time, you can watch them make their famous taffy. Lastly, an early dinner at Salsa’s – only the best Mexican restaurant on Seawall- and get amazing sunset views on our drive back to Houston.

Day 3: Today, we would bike around Discovery Green and Buffalo Bayou Park late morning. Eat at Dish Society or Snooze AM Eatery for brunch, and then stop by Common Bond for a coffee pick-me-up, on our way home. At night, we could head to Sugarland towards a halal Indo/Paki food truck park and do a mini food crawl there by trying the various foods (Steak Spot, Chaiwala’s, etc).

Day 4: Museum District. This is my current area of residency, so we would probably start with grabbing some coffee from Java Lava and then heading out to one of the museums or the zoo (The Museum of Fine Arts if you’re feeling reflective, or The Museum of Natural Science if you want to be a little adventurous). For the afternoon, I would probably organize a picnic at Hermann Park with some friends and explore the Centennial Garden and the Japanese Garden there. When I say “picnic”, I mean pick up some subway sandwiches from Ike’s Love and Sandwiches and put it in a cute picnic basket- they have the best sandwiches around, and bonus points for their halal options.

Because YOLO, we could have a water balloon/water gun fight at the park and cool off in the Houston heat. If it’s winter, we could get hot chocolate and drink it while we people watched and played board games. A great way to end the night would be to watch an evening show if there’s something playing at The Miller Outdoor Theater. Some of the best moments in life are made sitting with your friends on the grass, under the stars.

Day 5: Go to Rice Village and have breakfast at Sweet Paris- a wonderful French cafe to have coffee and pastries. On your way there, make sure to go cruise slowly through Rice Blvd to admire the architectural details of the beautiful homes. Afternoon: PAINTBALL! This can be so much fun with the right group of people. I love the adrenaline rush, the thrill, and how silly and serious it can be at the same time. Lastly, no one should leave Texas without having a proper Texas BBQ. It’s a must! My favorite spot for this would be Chuckwagon BBQ and Burgers. It’s halal, and their brisket just melts in your mouth.

The best part about Houston: you can keep exploring, and you’ll always find more to do. Most of all, it’s the attitude with which you approach everything. Just have a sense of humor, and remember that you can never get time back. So you might as well enjoy every bit of it with a positive and fun attitude.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I’d like to dedicate a shoutout to my community and family. My family (especially my husband) pushed me to begin this venture, and the members of my community, my first clients, took a leap of faith in me when I didn’t even know I could do it. And lastly, but most importantly, I’d like to dedicate every single flower, smile, and ounce of happiness that comes out of my craft to my beloved daughter, Zahra, who rests in Heaven and plays amongst the flowers there.

Website: https://www.beginningsbyuk.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/beginningsbyuk/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/beginningsbyuk

Image Credits
Ashlee Crianza Photography SMB Films & Images SNJ Moments

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