- Designer, ex-con, mother and mentor. Just some of the words used to describe Mariam Mola.
After arriving in the UK at four years old, Mariam had a drive to win and create a better life for herself. At the age of 24, she set up Europe’s first Multi Brand designer shoe hire boutique in Westfield’s, Stratford.
However, it was quickly taken from her when she was sent to prison for a crime committed in her teens, whilst in a difficult relationship. During her time in prison she gave birth to her daughter and saw the lack of support available to women in business and the workplace. This is when she created Mentor MatcHer.
“I was released from prison, I had no money, the little money I had went to my daughter to put her in nursery after that I really didn’t know what to do.” She told us at her Mentor MatcHers’ anniversary event. “Then I went for it, I got scared I didn’t know if I could do this but it worked, again and again so here it is.”
It's been a phenomenal year.. it's been up its been down but I remained #resilient! Simply because I've had no other choice…. I kept pushing for GOLD because it's the only thing I know how to do… PUSH! Now FINALLY I'm beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel ! – Mariam Mola Happy 1 Year Anniversary To US! ? @joshua_lamptey_ltd on the TOG @sleekmakeup HAIR @iambeautiesuk @honeymalaolu DRESS made in under 24 Hours !
Over the past year, Mentor MatcHer has successfully helped around 500 women get back on their feet through workshops, events and direct mentoring. “Every woman is different but I feel like the women I meet all have a story because they connect with me, they have a story, their story may not be as diverse as mine but I always like hearing them.”
Mentor MatcHer is currently the leading female mentoring initiative in the UK and Mariam believes it’s because it’s different “I don’t believe that mentoring is a case of filling in an application form and we’ll match you, I sit down with women and find out where they’re at with their lives and where they want to go…
We see how we can help them and put them in a position where they can build their business. They may be unemployed so we will put them in a position where they can find work and a mentor who can base them in their office.”
Mentor MatcHer is still relatively new to the industry, having only just turned 1 years old. However, Mariam explains the fundamental reasons behind it “I’ve grown as a person and it’s all about relationships, that’s what makes Mentor MatcHer so amazing, it’s not the mentors but the communication and relationships.”
In addition to creating the mentoring programme, Mariam has also been busy writing a book (available to pre-order now) which details her story and how she became the woman she is today. She wanted to encourage others, through her writing, to be inspired and create their own business.
Mentor MatcHer encourages women to support one another and boost each other, something Mariam was worried about when she first set up her opening event. “I wanted to cancel the first event 5 days before, I was not feeling it, I was too afraid I didn’t like my life, what if people didn’t like my story, people are going to hate me, women hate, that whole thing back then, that was my mind set” she added “I changed my mind set and it changed my life.”
What do you think of Mariam Mola’s story? Let us know over on Twitter @amormagazineUK
Words: Amy Taylor