Where were you born and raised and, if it was someplace else, when and why did you come to Loudoun?
I was born and raised in Trenton, New Jersey until the age of 9. My father was a chemist with Lockheed Martin so we ended up traveling quite a bit. We spent time living in Las Vegas, NA and Annapolis, MD. We eventually ended up settling in the Northern Virginia area. I arrived in NOVA as a sophomore attending James Madison High School in Vienna, VA. I spent time in Fairfax and am a proud graduate of George Mason University. Northern Virginia has been our home ever since!
When did you launch your first business and how did you get into your current line of work?
The idea to launch my first business was sparked after traveling to Richmond, VA for a soccer tournament in 2017. I happened upon this cool shop with a cat in the window, named Zoomies. That was the first time I had seen the concept of a ‘Cat Café’ in person. I was enamored by the idea and became determined with making it a reality. I officially created the LLC for Meows Corner and started working on opening my location in 2018. We had our grand opening in Loudoun County (Sterling, VA) in July 2019. We are almost celebrating our third anniversary!
Have you had any special mentors or inspirations that influenced your career?
I have been fortunate to come across many inspiring people even through my close family and colleagues over the years. The main characteristics that those mentors have had in common has been persistence and patience to work through challenges. Keep focus on your dream or end goal and recognize the value of networking and connecting with others.
What is the best part of your job and why?
We have a wonderful team at the lounge and have been able to make a lot of connections with the people in the community. Our customers generally come in happy and excited and there is a mutual benefit to both the cats in our lounge as well as our visitors. The cats get much needed socialization, and our customers enjoy their time and de-stress with some cat therapy. We are making a difference and finding homes for our adoptable cats through 4Paws Rescue. We get to play with cats daily and 225 cats have been adopted to date!
What is it like owning/running a business in Loudoun?
Running a business can definitely be challenging no matter where you are. There has been a lot to learn from just permits, taxes, finances, leases and much more. I am now entering my fourth year as a business owner but still have more to learn. I have really appreciated the support from the staff in the Loudoun Economic Development Department. They have consistently reached out to me to consult and offer resources and continually checked on us even through COVID.
What does Arab American Heritage Month mean to you?
It is so uplifting to see that inclusivity is something that has been made a priority, especially in my own local community. I am proud of my Arab American heritage and am honored to contribute to making Loudoun County a more welcoming and diverse place for all nationalities and backgrounds.
What are some of your favorite things to do when you are not working?
I love spending free time with my family and doing anything outdoors. We have a large family and tend to keep very busy on the weekends, whether it’s a social event or hopping from one game to the next. Hiking, traveling, and trying out new restaurants are also things I enjoy but don’t get to do as often as I like. Excited to experience more in the future!