Start-up of the Week: MZN founder proves teaching and running a business can coexist

Updated 19 September 2018
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Start-up of the Week: MZN founder proves teaching and running a business can coexist

  • The transition from a house business to a workshop helped me take the business more seriously and helped us to find better opportunities
  • The greatest challenge for Ashgar was time management between her job, home, and the business

DHAHRAN: “Seize any opportunity. Also, learn how to prioritize your time; we can achieve so much during the day if we manage our time well. And don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.”
That is the advice of Muzon Ashgar, founder of MZN body care. MZN is a natural skincare product handmade in Saudi Arabia. The founder of MZN said that the high-quality products are available at affordable prices.
Ashgar said when designing any of her products, the MZN brand keeps in mind the Saudi user, what they need, what do they like and what they are looking for in a product.
She said that her business came about by chance.
“I wasn’t planning on changing my profession at all. I invited my friends to a spa-themed party at my house and I made small giveaways to go with the party theme. I made scrubs, lip balm, hand lotion and such for them to take home; all created from scratch in my kitchen. But being a designer, I had to label them so, with the help of my friends, came up with the name of the ‘brand’ and designed labels for the products. They loved the products and some of them asked for more. At that time the trend of ‘outdoor family events’ had just started so they convinced me to participate as a brand,” Ashgar said.
Ashgar, who is also a lecturer at Imam bin Abdulrahman University teaching photography and graphics design, said the products sold out the first and second day, making her think that there was a chance of starting a full-fledged business.
“So, I started looking into the possibility of starting a business. At that time, I was still a lecturer in college and running a business so I didn’t change professions. I just added one.
“After one year of running the business from home, I rented a workshop space in the Prince Sultan Fund for Women incubators in the industrial city, and started to get the proper licenses and permits for the brand. We now have the manufacturing and the Saudi Food and Drug Authority licenses.
“I’m still a lecturer and run the business at the same time. I have staff that helps me run both the administration and customer service and the manufacturing,” Ashgar said.
Two years ago, Ashgar traveled to London to take courses to hone her craft. She enrolled in a soap boot camp course in April of 2016. She also attended courses in cold-process soap-making liquid- and cream-soap making, cosmetics regulations, labeling and compliance. She also gained a diploma from the School of Natural Skincare in June 2016.
She said she also took courses in business. “The transition from a house business to a workshop helped me take the business more seriously and helped us to find better opportunities for sales and distribution,” she said.
With some time management, I was able to give both jobs or “careers” the attention they needed.
“With the help of my husband, Basil, and a good family friend, Feras, who runs his own family business, I was able to figure out a lot of the ins and outs of running a business,” Ashgar said.
“We also faced challenges from sourcing the raw materials, the cost of equipment and rent, to developing new products,” she said.
The MZN brand launched in March 2015, and the greatest challenge for Ashgar was time management between her job, home, and the business. She said that it created a lot of issues at the beginning but now she is more in control.


Saudis recall history’s greatest TV event: Apollo moon landing

Updated 20 July 2019
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Saudis recall history’s greatest TV event: Apollo moon landing

  • The TV images beamed from 320,000km away in space left viewers astounded but happy
  • The TV coverage influenced thinking and attitudes in the Kingdom just like everywhere else

DUBAI: It was a sleepy afternoon in Saudi Arabia, just days before the end of the school vacation, and Saudis had their eyes glued to their TV sets as they waited for live coverage of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

Before July 20, 1969, the idea of a human walking on the moon was the stuff of science fiction. However, almost overnight, sci-fi had turned into reality with a live broadcast showing American astronaut Neil Armstrong’s dramatic descent onto the empty lunar landscape.

Between science fiction and science fact, the live coverage of the lunar landing amounted to an unusual fusion of news and entertainment.

Saudi TV technicians bring the first live images of Neil Armstrong’s 1969 moon landing to
viewers around the Kingdom. (Supplied photo)

The historic images — beamed back to Earth more than 320,000 km away — left Saudi viewers astounded and confused, but mostly elated to be witnessing such an epoch-making event.

The event was covered live on television and radio stations in Saudi Arabia. Most Saudis and residents living in the Kingdom watched it on Saudi channels 1 and 3, owned by Saudi Aramco.

Hessah Al-Sobaie, a housewife from Al-Dawadmi, recalled watching the moon landing from her grandparents’ backyard as an 11-year-old.

“It felt weird watching a human walk on the moon,” she told Arab News. “I remember the endless questions I asked as a child.”

While most people were aware that going to the moon was risky, many Saudis believed that such a journey was impossible and all but unthinkable.


EVENTS WATCH

1. NASA’s Apollo 11 mission control room in Houston has been restored to its 1969 condition and regular tours
will be conducted by the Johnson Space Center.

2. NASA ‘Science Live’ will have a special edition on July 23 on board the aircraft carrier that recovered the Apollo 11 capsule.

3. A summer moon festival and family street fair will be held in Wapakoneta, Ohio, from July 17-20.

4. Downtown Houston’s Discovery green will host a free public screening of the ‘Apollo 11’ documentary, with an appearance by NASA astronaut Steve Bowen.

5. Amateur radio operators will host a series of events on July 20-21.

6. The US Space and Rocket Center is staging a special ‘Rockets on Parade’ exhibition.


The Apollo 11 mission prompted discussions across the Middle East over the reality of what people saw on their TV screens. Some Saudi scholars found it hard to believe their eyes.

“I watched it, and I clearly remember each and every detail of the coverage,” Hayat Al-Bokhari, 68, a retired school principal in Jeddah, said.

“My father, Abdul, was 56 at the time. He said the landing was faked. He couldn’t believe or accept that a human could go to the moon.”

Khaled Almasud, 70, a retired university lecturer, was a student in the US state of Oregon at the time of the mission. “Americans were stunned and over the moon, happy with their national achievement. But many Saudis like me were either in denial or insisting on more proof.”

Since the beginning of the 1960s, King Faisal had been rapidly transforming Saudi Arabia, inviting foreign-trained experts to help build a modern country with world-class infrastructure.

Billie Tanner, now 90, lived in the Kingdom for many years with her husband, Larry, and their two children, Laurie and Scott, aged six and four. The family had just arrived in Saudi Arabia and headed to the Aramco compound in Ras Tanura in the Eastern Province.

A screengrab of video of the first lunar landing beamed toward Earth and shown on television worldwide. 

“We were going through a culture shock,” she told Arab News. “I wasn’t thinking of the moon landing, but we heard about it on the news from Dhahran.

“My kids tried to see the astronauts on the moon with their binoculars and said they could see them walking around.”

The Apollo 11 spaceflight has become a milestone in the annals of human history and science. Since 1969 space exploration has greatly expanded man’s knowledge of the universe, far beyond Earth’s limits.

The captivating live coverage of the moon landing inspired millions of people around the world, profoundly influencing their thinking and attitudes.

The people of Saudi Arabia were no exception.