Meet the Cedar – Maryam Garba

It was a breezy afternoon as I made my way to the Made in Chicago store. I can’t remember what I expected as I headed to see Maryam Garba in her workspace; but upon entering the store and watching her work, I had my biggest boost of inspiration for the day.

First, I saw her intern, dutifully typing on a computer. Then, I spotted Maryam working with a client. They were tossing ideas back and forth for a new handbag that would fit the demands of the modern working woman; And I was the perfect invite to the conversation. To get to the store, I had lugged my troop of three bags – for heels, computer, and lunch – as I struggled to hang on tight on the train. I had so much to say! 

I soon got to speak with Maryam one on one, my goal being to get more familiar with her work. As we spoke, I realized how much courage it took for her to go after her dreams. I heard of the dramatic cut in her expenses, the struggle with getting parental support, the bid to remain profitable, etc. But beside the struggles, I also saw how much pay off lies at the other end of your dreams.

In the few years since she started Maryam Garba LLC, Maryam has built a strong client base; and she has managed to stretch her limbs internationally. I don’t mean to imply that there are no challenges – they are definitely there. But as I am learning, the fulfillment you get as you chase your dream far outweigh the costs.

I asked Maryam to share some personal tips that have guided her journey so far. She shared what she calls her Personal ‘P’s, as well as the meaning behind each one.


PRAY like it all depends on God – Prayer builds up your faith and strengthens you to do the things you need to do. I don’t know that I would have ever followed my dreams if I didn’t have my faith in God to lean on.

Quit worrying about being PERFECT the first time – Most of the things I made wer not perfect the first time – but I still put them out anyway. I remember my first of many things: my first dress, photo shoot, website… All of these things were far from perfect. But I noticed that just taking a stab at them gave me confidence to try again – and do them even better!

Become a PROBLEM SOLVER This is what separates entrepreneurs from most other people. When many people face a challenge, they fail to think through all possible solutions, and allow the problem to continue to exist as is. Entrepreneurs are always looking for solutions. For me, this could be anything from finding cost effective ways to product my garments to finding out the best way to market them. Whatever it is, I am always problem solving.

Be PRACTICAL Be sure to create a means to earn an income even while pursuing your dreams. This could be through your savings, or a day job, but you want to be sure your passion can fully sustain you before you move into it full time. Otherwise, the frustration of not being able to meet your financial needs will extinguish the passion you had initially. Being practical also means thinking of ways through which you can turn your ideas into actions Without real action, your dreams will remain exactly that… just dreams!

Be PATIENTI’ve found that this is one of the hardest things for an entrepreneur to accept. When you’ve worked so hard on something, you want to see great results right away. But often times, that’s not the case. I remember the book “Outliers” where Malcolm Gladwell writes that it takes 10,000 hours to get really good at something. If you were working full time at your passion (which most of us are not anyways), this would total anywhere from 3.5. to 5 years of full time days working on the business. So be patient with yourself.


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