Alumnae Spotlight is where you get to meet our wonderful Astra S.T.E.A.M. Alumnae. In the past three years, we were lucky to have influenced over 80 young girls who are aspired to become entrepreneurs in the STEAM fields. Each year, these young women work in teams to come up with New Venture App ideas during a two-day Astra S.T.E.A.M. Summit. At the end of the summit, they pitch their ideas in front of a panel of judges.
Through this experience, Astra STEAM Institute wants to encourage young women to develop their interests in STEAM subjects as well as entrepreneurship, and to empower them to become the next generation of female scientists and women entrepreneurs.
In today’s Alumnae Spotlight, we would like to introduce you to our 2016 STEAMer – Ayah Abdel-Qader!
Can you tell us a little more about yourself?
My name is Ayah Abdel-Qader, and I am in 7th grade at Rose Hill Middle school in Redmond, WA. I’m a current honor society member. I play volleyball, am a girl scout, and am taking Arabic language classes. In my spare time I love to sing, hang out with friends, and do crafts.
How did you first hear about the Astra STEAM Institute?
I heard about Astra STEAM through my mom. She told me about the program and said I should apply. I really did not know much about it at first, but after reading about it, I thought it sounded really cool! I had never attended a class like it so I was excited when I got picked to attend!
Which year did you attend the Astra S.T.E.A.M. Summit, and what was your experience like?
I attended the Redmond summit held at Microsoft in 2016. I was nervous going in but found out that my very good friend was also attending. That made me feel more comfortable at the summit. Everyone was so welcoming! My group made me feel like a major part of it. I learned so much from all of the speakers. It was really cool to see women that were successful share their tips and advices with us. The most interesting part to me was creating our app. I typically don’t like to speak in front of large audiences but I managed to get over my fear and help my team deliver our business idea. It was an amazing experience and I was very happy to attend.
What was your team’s business and App idea?
Our idea was an app called My city map. The app connected people with job and volunteer opportunities in the area. I was the youngest in my group, the other team members were high school students. We all collaborated on the idea. It was nice to be with people that had more experience than me so that I could learn from them. We all worked together and nobody was excluded.
What was your best memory from the Astra STEAM Summit?
The best memory I had was being able to attend with my friend. We are very supportive of each other and share some of the same interests. It was nice to be able to share this experience with her.
What were your takeaways from the Astra STEAM Summit, and how had these takeaways later influenced you?
I learned that there are so many possibilities out there in my future and that I can do whatever I put my mind to. Astra STEAM helped me understand how to build something and that has helped me shape my business.
Can you tell us a little more about your business?
My business is Slime Business! I make custom made slime and have been selling it at school, social functions, and to friends and family throughout the country. Slime resembles silly putty or goo that you can play with. I make rainbow colored slime, glitter slime, fluffy slime, clear slime, stress balls with slime inside and pretty much anything you request. It’s made using everyday household ingredients. Not only is it fun to play with, but also smells wonderful! I have yet to come up with a catchy name for it, but for now it’s just known as Slime by Ayah.
What inspired you to start your own business, and how did you start your business?
Like most kids my age, I started watching DIY videos online that showed step by step instructions to make the slime. I became really good at it and would bring it to school or bring it out with my friends. My friends and peers loved it and would ask if they could have some or if I could make them a certain color. After buying so many supplies, I thought to myself, wow if only I could sell it. I made a few really cool samples and took them to school the next day. People went crazy for it! I was getting orders left and right! My mother and I would purchase the materials to make it, then calculate what I would need to charge in order to make a profit. I offered two different size pricing and then more for custom slime that took more ingredients and time to make. Friends would tell their friends and I’d make slime every afternoon after finishing my homework. I’d spend weekends experimenting with different types of slime recipes and have even created my own. I also created a product to help kids during our state testing days. I created stress balls that were basically slime in balloons that they could use to relieve their stress. I was inspired to create this business because I wanted something of my own. I wanted to be able to make money doing something I already loved to do. Attending the Astra Steam summit gave me confidence to know that I can do anything I put my mind to.
What was the biggest obstacle when you started your business and how did you overcome it?
The biggest obstacle was trying to juggle homework and making slime. I would sometimes have multiple orders of different slime that would require more time to make. I’m in a few extracurricular activities like volleyball, Arabic language, and Girl Scouts. All of that and homework sometimes made for late nights. I found that it was easiest to make the slime on the weekend instead of trying to do it every day. This way I could deliver them on Monday.
What was the most rewarding moment of your business?
I decided that I should give back to the community. My mom is a director of a nonprofit organization working with refugees. I felt that it was important for me to give some of the money earned to help those in need. Making my own money that I can actually personally give to help families who are struggling with rent and food makes me very happy. It is very rewarding when I can help someone else in need.
What advice do you have for other young women your age who are thinking about starting their own businesses?
Don’t overthink your idea, just go with it. Anyone can have a great idea, but it takes motivation and determination to bring that idea to life. I’m still very new to this business and that’s ok. Patience is important. There might be days when you don’t have any sales but don’t let that discourage you. Be patient and enjoy what you are doing. Have fun, don’t stress, and be true to yourself!
What is your dream career?
My dream is to be an orthopedic surgeon. After breaking my ankle and going to many doctors, I fell in love with the field. I’m studying hard at school and maintaining good grades and study habits that will make the college of my dreams possible. I hope to go to Harvard like my uncle.
Do you have a role model?
My mom is my role model. My mom was a single mother for many years and I saw how hard she worked to provide me with everything that I needed. She still works hard. She is also giving and kind because she works with people that don’t have much. I hope one day to be like her because I love her so much. She is always there for me and wants the best. That is why I hope to be like her and work hard for the community.
If you have one advice for the new STEAMers, what would it be?
It may seem scary to attend the summit because you may not know anyone there. Just go and meet new people. Plus, when it happens during school days, you’ll be able to get out of going to school those days. Go there, take notes and enjoy the experience!
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