We had the good fortune of connecting with Rabiya Goldsmith and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Rabiya, how do you think about risk?
Risk-taking is a challenge. It almost feels like I compete with myself. The feeling of being uncomfortable and challenged drives me to try to explore more. Over time, I realized that throwing myself into a new venture unleashes the creativity within me and forces me to look things up in a different kind of view.
While growing up in Kenya, I did not see many people working in jobs that I could see myself doing as an adult. The career opportunities available were quite limited. I have always known from a very young age that I loved to sell. In fact, I started my first business venture at school. I remember asking my mom to make potato fritters when I was around seven years old, which I then sold to my fellow students at break time.
I have always loved interacting with people and educating them about how products are made and about their benefits. Like many small business owners, I have been through my fair share of challenges. For example: many years ago I ventured into a milk business, but I did not know anything about milk and the risks associated with that specific business. I also opened up a smoothie parlour in a town where people had no concept of a healthy lifestyle. These were risks that gave me sleepless nights, but I persisted in my goals and eventually succeeded.
Covid 19 hit soon after moving back to the USA after being away for five years. I applied for jobs in many different places, but I did not get hired. I was devastated. After months of staying at home, depressed and anxious, I had a light bulb moment while burning incense. The smell of incense has always calmed me, so as I was burning to help lift my spirits, I realized that I could use the world of fragrances to help others too. I decided to make incense and enlighten others about it. The thought of making the incense myself never crossed my mind in the past because it was readily available back in Kenya. I started watching YouTube tutorials on how to make incense and started interviewing people with expertise in incense making.
After raising enough money to buy the raw materials, I started tinkering in my kitchen, creating a variety of unique scents from different oils and formulas. I had my doubters during the early days of building my incense business. Some people told me that my business idea was ‘too foreign’ for the US market, or advised me to find a normal 8-5 job. Others told me t the incense project would never work. I believed in my idea and I was convinced that it would work. The more negative feedback I received, the more I was determined to prove the naysayers wrong. I put in many hours in market research, trying to find creative ways of introducing the US market to the wonderful world of incense.
One of my favorite quotes from the Quran is TAWAKATUL MINALLLAH, which means that Allah (GOD) will do and give what is best for us. Yes, we have to work hard and take risks, but God will always reward us accordingly with our efforts and intentions.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
I am the founder of Baitul Oud. The name means House of Fragrance in Arabic. I believe that a good fragrance has the power to elevate moods. Oud is a product that is used regularly in homes in the Middle East, Africa and Asia. For example in Kenya, we burn oud incense after cooking to get rid of food odors, after cleaning the house, and during special ceremonies. We also perfume our clothes, bodies and hair with oud. My business focuses on bringing the traditional myrrh and frankincense experience to the modern Western environment.
Oud is a multi-million business in the Middle East and Asia and it’s no wonder because people there know the psychological benefits of a good scent. Because I had personally experienced its benefits when I was going through low periods in my life, I knew I had to introduce it here so that others could also benefit from it. Some of the known benefits are as follows:
Helps create harmony and balance
Helps with relaxation
Enhanced effects for meditation
Removes negative energy around you and your living spaces
The oud fragrances made in the traditional perfumeries can be quite heady and overpowering, especially to those unfamiliar with them. So I formulated my incense to better suit American and Western tastes. I developed scents to different products so that customers can have different options of use and application. Some of my best selling products are:
Oud home sprays
Oud body butter
Oud wax melts
Oud body wash
Oud hand soaps
I am proud that I was able to take this basic product and develop it into many different lifestyle products that can be used and enjoyed by many here and around the world. The sprays are natural and safe, even for people with allergies and respiratory issues. My skincare products are all handmade and made with nourishing natural nut oils.
I am proud that I stuck to my creative business vision. I have made many mistakes along the way. but over time I have learned to turn them into strengths. I spent many nights mixing making customized scents for my customers, and while this can be tiring, the joy that these scents give to others have been incredibly rewarding. Baitul Oud has been my most therapeutic business venture so far. It gives me so much pleasure to know that the products that I make make a difference in people’s lives and my own.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
The beautiful thing about the city of Atlanta is that it offers many great things and places to visit. I would kick off the tour by taking them to the world of Coca Cola. It is a great place to visit especially with kids. I would also give them a historical site seeing at the underground and not to miss out MLK memorial and off with CNN tour.
One of my favourite places to go especially during summer is Beren’s frozen yogurt located in Grayson city. This is a small family-owned shop. The flavors are fantastic. We can have breakfast at the famous Mary Mac’s tea room that is known for its great southern menu.
I love the outdoors, so Stone Mountain Park is wonderful facility not too far from where we live. They offer great activities like hiking, camping, picnic sites and many more.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I dedicate my shoutout to first of all my family. They have been behind supporting me with every decision even though sometimes it feels crazy to them. They have been my ‘go to’ lab where I test my products and any new scent and product that I develop. I say this because they have been very honest with their feedback and where I needed to improve.
I also want to attribute my strength and resilience to both my grandmothers, Bibi and Grandma as we used to call them. They have always been the rock for our family, the matriarchs who continue to watch over us. My Kenyan grandmother, Bibi, taught us that life can be made pleasant with persistence and dedication. We watched her struggle everyday being the breadwinner for her family, her brothers and the rest of us. Bibi was a wonder woman. She was everyone’s problem solver. Neighbors and family members always found comfort talking to her and sharing their problems. She did not take any nonsense from anyone who tried to take advantage of her family, especially her grandkids. We always knew that she was our rock and it was just natural to her. Bibi took pride in her work and I never once saw her complain of being tired or sick. She always put everyone first before herself. She would set early in the morning to the woods to collect firewood to make the best stone oven bread in town that I used to go out to the streets and sell. Her energy and boldness paved the way for me to take charge of my surroundings and business in general.
Grandma was my typical Florida nana that had so much going for her. She lived through the generation when so much was being denied to women. She had to find ways to fight for what she strongly believed was her right. She became the first female stockbroker and certified financial analyst in Florida. Her no nonsense attitude made many things possible for all of us. She was the lion of the family and made sure that everyone knew that. Having her in my life taught me that we can go for what we want in life without an apology to anyone as long as we are in alignment with God. Grandma always believed that good things don’t come easy. She always taught us to have big dreams and to bring them to reality.
Facebook: Baitul- Oud
Other: Tiktok : baituloud