By Camille Dupire Jordan Times, Amman
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Entrepreneur Romouz Sadeq says the flexibility of "Mrayti" allows beauty stylists to work from home, whenever, however and as much as they want.
For social entrepreneur Romouz Sadeq, who founded a home delivery beauty services startup, every woman working with her is a social entrepreneur herself.
The 33 year-old came up with the idea of Mrayti years ago, during a work visit to Syria whilst she was an IT employee for an electronics company.
"I kept seeing people walking around with a bag full of hair and beauty equipment and got really curious. When I asked, people told me it was the local barber, who was going from one house to another to provide the services," she remembered, noting that such practices used to be very common in countries like Syria or Egypt.
"Beauty always used to be very intimate, happening inside people's homes. The concept of spas and saloons only appeared recently," Sadeq told The Jordan Times on Tuesday, noting that "this idea of home delivery of beauty services kept coming back to me, especially when I had bad experiences going to beauty salons".
Initially trained in computer science, the leap to the beauty industry was a tough call for Sadeq, who describes herself as "a techy nerdy woman", adding "nobody believed in my idea nor supported me for a long time".
She started by taking make up classes "to at least know what I was involving myself in", she remembered, laughing, noting that she received a great number of responses when she posted ads for her services online.
"I realized that if even me, who wasn't even that good, could get people interested, then the idea was definitely viable. I think that what people really appreciated was my effort to come to their house and provide them with a service in the comfort of their home," Sadeq said.
Despite various investment pitfalls, she opened Mrayti in January 2017, starting with two professional stylists.
"To be honest, I wanted to be exposed to the world, to work with people and not only with machines anymore," the entrepreneur recalled, expressing her pride to see her startup have such a great social impact.
Flexibility: key to women's employment Maaly Al Jaber was one of the first stylists working with Mrayti, who said she quit her "enslaving and soul sucking" job at a beauty salon to join the local startup.
"I didn't have much expectation but I trusted Romouz. I saw how she cared about the employees' safety and always checked on us. She also had such trust and ambition that we became just as trustful of the project as her," she told The Jordan Times in an interview on Tuesday.
The mother of three said she used to have no time for her children and no freedom to travel or enjoy a social life.
"Contrary to the salon I used to work at, which would always find way to restrict my salary or make me work extra hours, Mrayti is very free. I can work whenever and as much as I want, and I finally get to enjoy my time with my family," Jaber rejoiced, saying she regained control over her life and finally has "peace of mind".
One of the most popular stylists on the Mrayti app, she has visited over 1,000 homes in a year, and said she is enthusiastic to do more.
"The concept of 9 to 5 job is not culturally suitable for women in Jordan and we clearly need new working systems if we want to allow women into the labour market," stressed Sadeq, who said the flexibility of Mrayti allows the stylists to work from home, whenever, however and as much as they want.
A stylist can make between JD200 to JD2,000 monthly, depending on how much work they want to take, she added, stressing: "If women had more flexibility like they do with us, I am certain they would be much more eager to work and make their own living and I really encourage other sectors to follow this work model."
Mrayti recently received the support of Mercy Corps project supported by Google.org, the Youth Impact Labs (YIL) programme, which seeks to stimulate creative, technology-oriented solutions to Jordan's unemployment challenge.
New chance at life Bayan, another stylist, also turned her life around with Mrayti. Owning her own salon in Zarqa, she used to struggle to make ends meet and ended up shutting the place down to move to the capital.
From incurring great losses every month, she switched to making around JD2,000 monthly, and even managed to buy her own land in Amman.
"It takes a lot of courage to leave one's job and stable income, especially to go for the uncertainty of a startup. But, as our beneficiaries prove it, it can also be a complete life changer for the better," she explained, citing the success story of one of their stylists who used to suffer from an abusive husband whom she could not leave due to a lack of money.
"After she started working with us, she gathered enough money to divorce him, and is now living safely with her children. At a regular company, she would have never been able to be away from work for so many days in a row to pursue her divorce legal process, but we understood and supported her," the startup founder explained, stressing: "Ethics are at the core of my project and I believe that the way we treat our stylists and customers alike should always be a direct reflection of our values."
She said she now wakes up every morning with a feeling of purpose, driven to do more. "I know that there are 20 amazing women out there who are counting on me and whom I can count on, which gives me even more strength and courage to keep going despite the challenges," she concluded.