Hanna Byrne, mum of one and owner of Sands of Siwa, is busy building a new life and a new business in a new country, having recently moved from Sudan to the UK. Here she shares her tips on how to turn your passion into your business, with insights into her own fascinating journey so far.
Find your passion
Think about what it is that you really love to do.
I love to help women feel good about themselves. Making women smile is the best part of my job. I want all women to feel beautiful, inside and out. That is my passion and it is inspired by where I grew up and who I was surrounded by.
My family are from Tanta in Egypt, a very green and peaceful place. We farmed, ate organic food and loved nature. My grandma always taught me that home-grown food and natural remedies were best. She lived to 106, so I trust her advice!
Every Thursday (which in Egypt is the last day of the working week), my mum would go out and come home looking and smelling amazing. I thought she was going a perfume shop but when I was about 11 years old, mum took me with her. It turned out she was going to Hammam, a traditional Egyptian spa where you go to relax, and your skin and hair are massaged with oils.
The difference between Hammam and spas here in the UK, is that Hammam is considered to be a part of daily life for Egyptians. They’re not expensive to visit so most people, except the very poor, can afford to go weekly. Beauty is such a huge part of Egyptian culture that even the very poor will still make their own beauty creams and oils, even if they can’t afford to go to Hammam.
Even though I was very young, the ladies there always talked to me about beauty and how important it was to take pride in looking after yourself. This is where my interest in health and beauty began.
My favourite treatments to perform on clients are detoxing deep tissue massages with cupping (body and facial), as well as the unique golf ball massage. I’m a golfer and have competed in competitions. I understand exactly where golfers need support. The golf ball is excellent for working those tricky areas around the shoulders, elbows and lower back.
Once you realise what your passion is, you’ve got to work hard.
My cousin married a beautiful Italian lady who was a trained muscle therapist. Muscle therapists in Egypt are similar to massage therapists here but they have an extremely specialist knowledge of the muscles and how to work with them.
She helped me to go to school to learn muscle and skin therapy and I absolutely loved it. I loved learning new things and finding out how it was possible to help your body heal itself using natural remedies rather than medication.
It was hard as my dad was not fond of my career choice (he wanted me to be an engineer) but he did support me.
My dad always wanted me to be the best. If I wasn’t top of the class, even if I was a close second, he was disappointed. Although this was a lot of pressure, it means I know how to work hard and be the best that I can possibly be.
This ambition has shaped other areas of my life, not just work. I trained in Karate for 11 years and was number two in Egypt for three years in a row.
Take opportunities even when it seems challenging
Grab every opportunity you can, even when it seems scary.
I met my Scottish husband in my early twenties in Egypt. We fell madly in love and we married when I was just 24. We moved to Sudan and had our son, Kareem. Last summer, due to my husband’s work, we moved from Sudan to Hertfordshire in the UK.
Moving your life and family across continents, and starting a new business, isn’t easy but I love a challenge.
The culture here is so different but I’m learning every day. It can feel tough sometimes, but each day gets a little easier. I definitely miss the sun!
Find a way to make your work fit around your family
Consider what kind of hours you can realistically work.
Before having Kareem, I worked as many hours as possible. I loved my work so much, I once worked for 24 hours straight. I worked as a muscle therapist on athletes, footballers, celebrities and even the US Marines.
Working with the US Marines was one of the highlights of my career so far, as many of them had serious injuries and it was such an honour to be able to help them recover.
Now that we have a family, I decided to start my own business so that I can set my own hours to fit around looking after Kareem. He is still young and needs me around. As he gets older, I can increase my hours.
Always make time for you
This is so important. Even when you are busy with family and work, please try to find 10 minutes to yourself in the evening.
In Egyptian culture, women are taught about the importance of me-time from a very young age. This means Egyptian women don’t feel guilty about taking time for a shower in the evenings, or spending time each day looking after their skin.
Even if they have busy jobs, they still make time for themselves and it is never questioned. We’re always taught that taking care of ourselves is part of taking care of our family.
I always spend ten minutes in the morning cleansing my skin and thinking positively about the day ahead. In the evening, I spend another ten minutes on skincare and meditation. If my husband takes care of the bedtime routine, I get some extra me-time which I love.
Sometimes I’m so busy, but I always want Kareem to see me looking after myself, and with enough energy to keep up with him. If you don’t look after your body, your body won’t look after you.
Picture how you want yourself to look and feel, get a plan in place, and then make it happen.
For more information on Hanna and Sands of Siwa, please visit her Facebook page.
You can read our review of Sands of Siwa here.
Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post.