We had the good fortune of connecting with Erum Khalili and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Erum, why did you pursue a creative career?
I’ve always been creative at heart. When I was a kid, I used to spend my free time drawing, sketching and sewing. I lost my mother at a young age and my biggest escape was art. When I create I feel my worries just melt away. Sometimes I think that God gave me this passion to ease the times my heart feels a bit heavy.
In college I majored in Economics, but filled up the rest of my schedule with art classes. Those classes were my absolute favorite; I remember rushing through calculus problems just so I could grab my easel, find a comfy spot on a hill or at the beach somewhere and draw.
Upon graduating, I worked as a tax accountant in the corporate world. While it was great, after having my third baby, I decided that I wanted to spend more time with my children. To be honest, I never imagined I’d actually pursue a creative path professionally. I thought all of my creative hobbies were just that, hobbies.
While raising my three kids at home I would spend my down time drawing and learning pattern design. Ramadan, a holy month for Muslims, fell on April in 2020. I was searching the web for Ramadan gift wrap with designs that were geared towards American Muslims like me. I saw a few typical star and moon designs, but there wasn’t anything that really spoke to me, so I decided to design my own. I posted the gift wrap on Instagram and I was surprised at the level of interest people had in it. I decided to launch a gift wrap line with three designs and within a matter of days, I had an unexpectedly large number of sales. The interest in my designs really motivated me to keep going.
It’s been a little over a year, and I’ve grown my business pretty quickly from the ground up. It’s been a whirlwind of a ride, but being able to create my own career path while doing what I love is a huge blessing. As a creative entrepreneur, I’m now able to pursue many streams of income. In Ramadan 2021 I launched a line of Ramadan gift boxes, I also sell my artwork on various products, I’ve licensed my artwork, and I have been designing for other companies. I’m glad I didn’t give up, following my passion led to an actual creative career, how cool is that?
My dream for the future is to license my artwork to larger companies because I feel that by doing so, I’ll be helping give voice to minority Muslim women entrepreneurs like me.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
My art is inspired by a mix of traditional block printing practices, Islamic patterns and historic architecture. I love using limited, yet bold color pallets with lots of texture.
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?
I’m such a California snob, so this question is right up my alley! I love that we have access to beaches, mountains and deserts within a few miles of each other.
I’d start the day at the crack of dawn and head over to Laguna Beach, a favorite spot of mine is 1000 Step Beach. We’ve spotted whales and dolphins breaching the shore and it’s just so dreamy and peaceful in the mornings. After that, I’d take up a pottery class at Arttime Barro on PCH and grab some gyros at Adonis. A meal isn’t complete without some dessert, so we’d head over to Dolce for some salted carmel gelato, yum!
If you’re in the mood for a day in LA, I would definitely recommend the Griffith Observatory and the Ghetty. Grab lunch at the farmers market then take a stroll and shop at the grove. Oh, and who could forget ending the day with a rooftop movie at The Montalbán.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I’d like to dedicate this shoutout to my husband, Mohsin! He’s always encouraging my many hobbies and ideas. The support means so much to me and it has motivated me to keep pursuing what I love.