Karachi-based Zainab Paracha is beating the odds by starting her own baking business: Sweet Tooth By ZP and her own NGO: One Earth One Voice to raise awareness regarding climate change, at just 14-years-old.
Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Zainab Paracha, I’m a 14-year-old girl. My passions stem from exploring my creative side: whether it is art, baking, singing, acting, or delving into introspection to improve as an entrepreneur. I am determined to finish everything I start while remaining motivated through the process. Planning to start my own NGO & business are some examples of my creative initiatives that I intend to foster in the future.
You have your own baking business called ‘Sweet Tooth by ZP’. When and how did you start baking? What’s your specialty?
I’ve always loved baking since I was a child. At the age of 10, I started my own venture ‘Sweet Tooth by ZP’. At first, close family and friends devoured my special Nutella brownies. This made me explore a variety of deserts, soon leading to me seriously pursuing Sweet Tooth and gradually expand my business. My specialty and most running dessert is the original Nutella brownies.
What are some of the challenges you faced while starting your baking business?
The biggest obstacle I faced was getting initial customers to order and take me seriously. Firstly, getting customers beyond family/friends was challenging, which I dealt with by marketing through Social Media and word of mouth. Secondly, I feel that in our society many people don’t fully support the idea of younger people having their own business, leading to a perception towards lack of seriousness. However, I am not only doing my business because baking is my passion, but also to break any type of stereotype that has been set in our society. Regardless of age or gender, I believe everyone should have the right to be supported and encouraged to follow what they love.
What advice would you give individuals your age who are looking into setting up a home business like you?
Passion derives from the heart; the scale or extravagance of your business does not matter but it is rather what you enjoy doing. No matter how small or wild your idea may initially seem, in the end the only factor that matters is anything that brings joy. My current menu consists of six items: two types of brownies, cakes, and cookies. While I spent countless hours attempting to make numerous distinct desserts, I realized that simplicity always gives the best results. Hence, I stuck with keeping a smaller menu and do what I do best with bearing in mind quality matters more than quantity.
How are you keeping yourself busy during quarantine?
The pandemic has allowed me to self-reflect and inculcate my character. I am attempting to make the most out of each day in quarantine by constantly learning/refining skills. I am spending an ample amount of time with my family, on my academics, art, expanding my business and primarily focusing on raising awareness about climate change and the numerous injustices and inequalities people are facing around the world.
What made you raise awareness about climate change and other issues going on in the world?
I have always cared for our Earth and felt as if it’s my duty as a citizen of this Earth to give back when my earth is heading towards a decline. Despite having deep concerns about my earth I didn’t do much about it until October 2019 when I read an article that changed my perspective, creating a challenge for me to educate others about climate change and actually make a difference. As I began to read more articles I came to see the flaws in not only in our earth but in us. It astounded me how unjust people can be. That’s when I knew that having a platform where I can voice my opinions is a blessing because all social, political, humanitarian or environmental injustices must be brought light upon.
You have an NGO called ‘One Earth One Voice’. Tell us a little about this. Why and when did your start this? How is the response so far?
We aim to deliver essential resources to the unfortunate, as we educate, and aim to curb the detrimental pace of climate change. Even though our main focus is climate change. We educate others about all kinds of issues going on in our world. I started this NGO in October 2019. Up till now the response has been quite good. Hundreds of people are reached with posts that are raising awareness. We took donations to help daily wage workers during these difficult times and the response was amazing. We hope for an even better response in our next donation project which will be helping out hospitals in poverty stricken areas.
Usually at this age many don’t take teenagers seriously, how did you beat the odds? Was your family supportive of your decision to start an NGO at such a young age?
My friends and family were very supportive of my decision to start my own NGO. Everything is a challenge at first, be it for a child or an adult. The best way to go about it is to stay firm with what you want to do and not change your ideas or views about issues based on what others think.
You’re only 14, how do you manage between school, your baking business and your NGO?
My studies have always been my top priority. Before quarantine I used to take a selective amount of orders per week, every order would be delivered two business days after being placed. When it comes to my NGO I spend about half an hour a day researching about climate change and other issues. It was a bit hard to find time to do a lot of fund raising so instead I took donations for different projects and causes.
Where do you see yourself six years from now?
Six years from now I see myself continuing to add value in making our world a better, more environment friendly place; I hope to let my imagination and creativity guide me to help others; complete my education and have my own restaurant franchise. I aim to do a lot of things six years from now but I don’t know how many I will actually do. I like to focus on the present. Who am I now? Because whoever I am now, I will either be a better or worse version of me then. So, if you ask me where I see myself in the next six years, I see myself preserving to be the best version of me In shaa Allah. I see myself doing something I love and speaking up for what I believe in. The only way that all this can all be more than something written down on paper is by perseverance.