Marryam Lum
Founder of Life Of My Heart

Assalamualaikum Marryam! What do you think is the purpose of your existence? What do you think you are here on earth to do?

I am tempted to give a very very long answer. -laugh- In short, for me it is to strive to be the best human beings we can be, to remember God, and to do our part to move humanity closer to God.

You’re a photographer, artist, wife and mother. Could you share how you spend an average day of your life?

Days can get a little hectic, that’s for sure! We wake up at 7 am, and do the crazy morning routine of getting the kids fed and ready for school. My hubby Muneer then takes the kids to school and posts orders while I exercise and read a book on my kindle at the same time, either on self-development, spirituality or a book in french as I’m currently learning French. Then, I get showered and ready to start work! Every day is scheduled slightly differently for me; schedules are super important as we both work from home and we also have our toddler who hangs at home with us too. -grin-

I usually start the day with emails and Instagram engaging and scheduling. Then, depending on the day, it’s either working on artwork, brush lettering, product development, blog, photoshoot prep for both my photography business and Life Of My Heart or working on photo shoots.

While our son naps, Muneer will work on product development and admin work. Thereafter, we have lunch and go for a walk together while brainstorming ideas for shoots and products. After that, it’s more of the same routine as the morning until school pick up. Once the kids are home, it’s family time until their bedtime. After the kids go to bed, I pack orders that will be ready for posting the next morning, spend one hour on self-development, spiritual reading and prayer. Then, one hour of language learning before sleep! Muneer works on whatever needs to be finished for Life Of My Heart as well as his other work and studies.

The schedule is totally different on the weekend! I sometimes also shoot on the weekends but I try not to do schedules shoots on the weekend as much anymore so I can have more family time. -smile-

Life of My Heart has garnered a huge following, with 26.6k followers to date. What inspired you to create art pieces of Quranic verses using brush lettering?

As humans, we all experience hardship and at a time when I felt quite low, I really felt that I’d love to have Quranic verses in English hung up around my home. I could quickly glance at them every day to gain strength and peace, without having to translate the Arabic calligraphy into English in my brain. I really wanted to make the inspiring verses of the Quran accessible to the non-Arabic speaker.

I also wanted daily reminders of beauty, inspiration, and patience in some form of contemporary artwork. By then, I was already obsessed with lettering and brush lettering. When I searched for contemporary brush lettering artwork of the Quranic verses to buy for myself, I realised that there was hardly any available. So I created my own and started posting them on Instagram. It seems that it really resonates with lots of other people as well!

Since then, there has been a huge increase of brush lettering of the beautiful verses of the Quran from other artists, and it’s just awesome to see how it has evolved. I’m super happy to see that the Quran will be in more and more people’s homes, where the verses will provide inspiration and peace for hearts around the world, and all these artworks from amazing artists will be a source of constant remembrance and dua.

I’ve had a few people buy my prints for friends who have lost their partners or children. It is so difficult to hear of loss, but it eases my heart to see that people are gaining strength from the verses and from our prints that are in their homes and that it helps them to have patience and courage.

What are the greatest challenges you have faced? How did you overcome those them?

I think the whole process has been a bit of a challenge! -laugh- The time required to grow Life Of My Heart has been at the expense of my photography business and Muneer’s work; we’ve had to take a huge risk to follow our dreams, and take a non-conventional career path, but we have big goals for our business that we are willing to work hard at achieving.

I started my first business when I was 19 and, as you can imagine, I’ve made many many mistakes to learn from over the years. I feel that every mistake has been a learning experience that prepared us for starting our dream business of Life Of My Heart. A huge challenge has been how to balance parenting with working from home. It helps greatly that both of us are work-at-home parents so there is a lot of flexibility there.

Since we have taken a non-conventional career path, we get asked often, “Soo..what is it that you actually DO??” We often look at each other and think ‘how can we even explain what it is that we do, where do we even start!’ Such is the life of a serial entrepreneur. We’ve learnt to never give up, keep on working hard, dream big, constantly purify our intentions, and just keep on going for the sake of Allah SWT without worrying what others think.

Another challenge for me has been to not be able to do as much photography work as I used to – I absolutely love photography and it is a major passion of mine, but when I started Life Of My Heart I just didn’t have time to take on as much photography work as before, and I missed it. Now, I’m making more effort to include photography in my Life Of My Heart work so that I am able to keep on learning and improving my photography skills.

Starting a business is a tough gig, and it is challenging all the way from the start and I think the challenges will continue to crop up as you grow the business. We are super grateful and excited that we have launched our lifestyle blog. We spent a long time working out exactly what we wanted from our online space, and we realised that we want to create a visual space that shares the inspiring stories of other people, Muslims and non-Muslims, that will help to inspire us and our readers to up their game, to learn more, to experience more, to be more, to not settle for mediocrity.

What drives you to strive for excellence?

The realisation that we aren’t on this Earth for an easy and fun holiday; we are here to be tested and to struggle, to work on ourselves getting closer to God, to be the absolute best humans we can be, to do our positive bit for humanity and the environment and for all creations. I am driven by the necessity to remember Allah SWT and why we are here, and do something about it so that we will be in shaa Allah blessed with Allah’s (SWT) mercy in the hereafter!

Who inspires you the most? Why?

Everyone I meet inspires me; I am intrigued with life stories and people’s struggles and wins. On a personal level, my husband inspires me every day with his patience, laughter and strength of character, and my parents – their positivity, dream-big attitude, unconditional love and awesome life advice is a winning combination for inspiration! That also goes for my siblings as well!

What is your hope for your community?

That us as Muslims will stop focusing our global attention on what is halal and haram, judging each other on the faith-o-meters of hijab and beard length, and instead work much, much, MUCH harder on ourselves, our hearts and our souls so that we get closer to Allah SWT and in the process become amazing human beings who create amazing communities of people, which in turn will be of an immensely positive impact on humanity.

Marryam and Muneer started Life Of My Heart as a business just after Ramadan in 2014. They launched their lifeofmyheart lifestyle blog in 2015. They are also working on developing a stationery line as well as other lifestyle products to help everyone remember Allah SWT in their everyday lives. Wandering Heart, their #lifeofmyheart gift book is now available here.

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