Sobia Shaikh: An Interview
Sobia, the blogger behind, joined us here at Olav to share what her normal day as an influencer, mother, and wife looks like!

It is really great to have you as a guest on, can you please introduce yourself in case some of my readers don’t know you?


Hello, my name is Sobia A. Shaikh (pronounced Shake). I am a San Francisco based blogger/influencer and write a lifestyle, fashion, beauty & travel blog.

You successfully started and ran your own company with the label ISLY handbagswhat was the secret behind your success? Why did you stop? And what was the biggest lesson you learned?


Thank you so much! I think perseverance & resilience were my two driving forces. Of course, I love fashion and wanted to create a luxury handbag line without an exorbitant price tag but had to literally put my blood, sweat & tears into it.
After almost 7 years of running it, I had reached a point where I had to take ISLY Handbags to the next level. I was looking to rent a showroom/office space and in addition, I was interviewing a bunch of candidates in order to expand my employees from 2 to at least 5 more people.
During this process I realized that expanding my business would entail far more travel then I was already doing and that meant being away from home and my kids a lot more than I was willing to take on. I was at a trade show in New York when this realization hit me and literally at that moment I decided to finish that season’s production, fulfill all the orders and say goodbye to ISLY.
Was it a difficult decision? Yes, exceptionally so. Do I have any regrets? None whatsoever!
The best takeaway for me: The highs are very high and the lows are very low but the amount of things I learned about myself during the time I ran this business are astounding. I never knew I could accomplish all the things that I did during the time I ran ISLY. I had my share of failures too but that’s what kept me going on as well.

You now live in the US while you grew up in Pakistan. How did you raise your children? 


 My husband and I have always believed in a few basic principles that we have applied (hopefully successfully) in raising our kids, who by the way are both teenagers now – our son is 17 & our daughter is 14. Be respectful, be kind, have empathy & always be thankful. And that they can come to tell us anything at any time and we will never judge them. Get angry, give advice and steer them in the right direction but never ever any judgment. 

How does a normal day in your life look like? 


During the week I wake up at 6.30 AM (but sleep in on the weekend:) and make a hot breakfast for the kids. No judgment towards anyone at all but we’ve never been a cereal or health bar for breakfast kind of a family. I either make an egg McMuffin (always with spinach) or scrambled eggs for them and drop my daughter to school. My son walks since his high school is a few blocks from home.
I then head to my Pilates class. Post Pilates I grab a cup of almond latte and while it’s being prepared I skim through the headlines of the day.
Some days I bring my laptop with me and sit at a cafe for a few hours going over that week’s blog post, editing pics for the blog, responding to emails about my ongoing collaborations, scheduling upcoming photo shoots etc. In between, there’s always a t-shirt/pair of shoes/a textbook that I have to order online for one of my kids! Mid-afternoon, I make a quick trip to the grocery store.
Inevitably, there’s a school meeting or conference that my husband & I have to go to – my daughter’s about to finish 8th grade and start high school & my son is about to be a high school senior – so we try to schedule them for late afternoons. The college process has already started for our son so that’s currently another exciting part of our lives.
I then get my daughter from school and we get home around 4 or so.
That’s one of my favorite parts of the day because I hear about everything that went on with her that day. Once home, she starts her homework and I get another couple hours to work on my blog and/or anything else that requires attention in reference to work. My son gets home around 5ish and I start preparing dinner around 6/6.15. If it’s been a long day then dinner prep. is accompanied with a glass of wine and music in the kitchen. Hubby arrives home around 7/7.30 PM  and the four of us sit down for dinner and talk about our day.
The kids are very good about clearing up dinner dishes and putting things away and then I finally get to put my feet up and watch some tv. I get to bed rather late and I keep meaning to change that aspect of my life but somehow cannot sleep at a reasonable time. 😉

What do you typically cook/eat during a day (for breakfast, lunch, snack, dinner)?


Breakfast for me is most often Greek yogurt with strawberries and dash of honey, always a salad with some protein (mostly chicken & sometimes fish) for lunch. Dinner – the kids love my shrimp tacos, club sandwiches or lasagna. And hubby, kids and I love Pakistani food so Qeema Mattar (ground beef or chicken with green peas cooked with ginger, garlic, turmeric, cumin, tomatoes & onions) served with rice, Daal (yellow or orange lentils) & Karahi Chicken (chicken cooked in a wok-like utensil called Karahi, with tomatoes, green chilies & cilantro and some more spices) & served with roti/naan and a side of mango chutney. Almonds, dates & sunflower seeds for snacks. And at least 2 cups of Lipton English tea a day. 


You are a great cook – tell us more about it. Why do you cook? 


 Now that I’m working again after an almost 2-year hiatus I cook dinner only 2-3 times a week. I’ve been surprised at how much time it takes to prepare for, write & publish each blog post. A friend asked me how much time is required for each post of mine and I too was surprised by my response. I’d say it takes about 8 hours per post esp. if I want it to be perfect.
Back to my cooking:) I find cooking therapeutic and calming. And I love that my kids and husband enjoy my food and look forward to the days I have cooked. 

Do you prefer to cook or to bake?


 Honestly, if I could I would bake all day long and then consume everything I had baked – literally!!! I find baking very enjoyable & satisfying AND have a sweet tooth craving that never seems to get fulfilled. 😉 Luckily, my daughter loves baking too since we used to bake together a lot when she was little so she always whips up yummy goodies for us.

What are the most important things everyone should have in their kitchen?


 Stainless steel frying pans, a saucepan, and a medium-sized pot. At least 2 spatulas, wooden spoons (I always use these for my Pakistani cooking), silicone spatulas, a great set of knives, a wooden cutting board (or 5 like I have:), a kettle for boiling tea, mixing bowls, baking sheets, oven mitts AND fresh flowers:)

What is your favorite dish and why? Do you have a recipe to share?


 I love my mother’s Karahi Chicken (mentioned above) so I’ve tried to emulate the same recipe for my family. Of course, it doesn’t taste exactly like hers but it’s pretty good:) The recipe is in my mind and I’ll be happy to share it but want to finish answering all these other questions first!

What is your favorite room in your home and why?


 My favorite space is my kitchen area which has a banquette in one corner where we eat most of our meals. A few steps away is our lounge/casual sitting area with a tv where we spend most of our time. The couches and window treatments are in shades of orange and aqua and I ABSOLUTELY love this room. Cooking, relaxing, chatting, tv watching all goes on here:)


Photographed by Ricci Candé; Makeup by Marisa Perel


Three people alive or dead that you would like to have dinner with?


 Can it be four pls? Supreme Court judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Coco Chanel, and Queen Nur Jahan, the 20th & last wife of the Mughal Emperor, King Jehangir and of course, President Obama!!

What is your advice on families dealing with teenagers?


Be open and create an environment where they feel comfortable to discuss anything & everything with you.


Who is your daily inspiration and why?


 One of the people I’m most inspired by is our sweet housekeeper, Agustina. She’s been with us for almost 18 years and it’s unbelievable how hard she works. Her efficiency, work ethic & gratitude at the smallest of things is a complete & utter source of inspiration not only to me but to my kids and my hubby.

What is your beauty secret (in general and foodwise)?


 Food- wise: eat everything but in moderation & avoid carbs after 7 pm, if possible! 
Beauty-wise: Sunblock, sun block, sun block. Facials as early as possible – I started getting mine after I turned 20 but wish I’d started earlier. 

What is the best advice you’ve been given and why?


 “Be yourself, everyone else is already taken” – Oscar Wilde.
I’m a huge proponent of being yourself. I know easier for me to dispense this advice, given that I’m 48 years old, but even in my younger years I tried my best to stay true to who I was. 

Who should everyone be following right now?


Why, Oholav, of course! 

What’s your favorite country to visit?


Pakistan and France

What’s the last country you visited?


France:) I go at least 3 times a year.


What country do you wish to visit and why?

 I’d love to go to Morocco to experience the rich culture and heritage plus of course, their food.
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