The Founder Of Khalala Earned Her Stripes Through An Entrepreneurial Baptism Of Fire

In June 2015 Mahadi Granier made the single biggest — and scariest — decision of her life. She packed up her family and moved to Paris. Her husband, who is French, had found a job, but Mahadi was planning to stay at home with their five-month-old daughter and three-year-old son while figuring out her next move.

She wanted to be an entrepreneur, and she believed that throwing herself into the deep end and moving to a new country was the catalyst she needed. What followed has been a baptism of fire, but also one of the most rewarding experiences of her life. This is what she’s learnt about entrepreneurship since launching her business.

“You need to surround yourself with like-minded people who have the same drives and ambitions as you do.”

By the time Mahadi went on maternity leave for the second time, she had been employed in a senior position at the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) for eight years. She had a comfortable, well-paying job. She had the perfect set-up. She commanded boardrooms. Yet she lacked job satisfaction.

“I had too much time to think while I was on maternity leave,” she says.

Searching for innovation

“And what I thought about was my life path. Government employment is so bureaucratic. There’s no innovation. I didn’t feel like it was an environment conducive to achieving bigger goals and ambitions. I realized that the energy was dragging me down, and that if I stayed in that role, I would eventually become like everyone I worked with — comfortable and complacent.”

Mahadi’s friends and family didn’t understand what she was going through, or why she wanted to make a change. It was that same confusion that triggered the realisation that she was living and working in an environment that was not conducive to taking a leap.

Taking the plunge

Mahadi saw only one alternative: This seemed like the right time to take that plunge. She needed to radically change her surroundings, and force herself into the unknown terrain of entrepreneurship.

Sometimes you need to face your fears and take that big leap.”

Unfortunately, while the leap was big and bold, it wasn’t what Mahadi had expected. And yet, from that adversity emerged her business idea. “I realized it was a crazy prospect — new country, new market, new customers, without my social circle of influence.

I was moving to a market I knew nothing about, filled with consumers I didn’t know or understand. But that was the challenge. I wanted to go somewhere where there’s a higher level of expectation; where I was pushed to aspire to a higher bar.”

It was a massive culture shock. The language barrier in particular was greater than Mahadi had expected. Her dreams of arriving in Paris and starting a business were shattered. But that didn’t mean she was ready to give up.

Plan before you make your move

Instead, she chose to stay at home with her daughter, manage the integration of her family into a new culture, and research everything she could about France, Europe and the local business landscape.

“I had gone from boardrooms to stay-at-home mom, which in a way was the exact opposite of what I wanted for myself. But I’d had a reality check. If I wanted to do something real with my life, I needed to build the right foundations.

I also wanted to be a present mother. Part of my challenge was figuring out what kind of a role model I wanted to be for my children, and that meant also being fully present in their lives.”

Read her Full Story here