By Nelah Sharefee and Vida Tinat
We aren’t just co-franchisees for Trade Secrets at Toronto’s Scarborough Town Centre, we’re also close friends and sisters-in-law. Having studied esthetics at college together and then managed our own spa, we’ve only grown closer over the years and we already knew we could work well together before we opened this franchise.
I was born in Kabul, Afghanistan, and lived there until I was about six, at which point my family moved to Pakistan, where we lived for four years before settling in Canada. I am the oldest of four siblings, including one boy and three girls. The youngest of my sisters was born in Pakistan.
As a child, I enjoyed reading books all of the time. Whenever my dad offered gifts, I asked for books or magazines. At school, my favourite subjects were English and art. I always got good marks.
Our first home in Canada was in North York, part of Toronto. We later moved east to Pickering, Ont.
After I finished high school, I found myself trying to decide what to do next. I thought about going to teachers college, but was also very interested in working with cosmetics and skin care. This was a sudden change for me; I never wore makeup until I was 18.
I had met Nelah a few years before and we became closer friends afterI married her brother, Abdullah, in 2004. My parents were against the idea of me getting into the beauty business, but Nelah and I both took a two-year course in esthetics and spa management at Toronto’s Seneca College. My studies helped me get hired by Estée Lauder to work at a cosmetics counter at a Hudson’s Bay store at Fairview Mall, not far south from the Seneca campus.
I worked for Estée Lauder for three-and-a-half years. I loved interacting with all of the customers, which is really why
I chose to be in the beauty business. I enjoy seeing how confident women feel with the right makeup on.
I too was born in Kabul and lived in Pakistan for a few years, but then my family moved to Heidelberg, Germany, where we lived for five years until I was 10. I have one older sister and brother and one younger sister.
I was a playful child, interested in pretty much everything. At school, I was good at math. I wanted to be a teacher when I grew up.
When we left Germany for Canada, we too moved to North York. While I was growing up, I became interested in beauty and fashion. I met Vida when we were teenagers, as our families became friends. I’m about nine months older than her. My brother Abdullah was interested in her after seeing her at some of our family parties and they got married right before we went to college. Around this same time, I also met my own future husband, Obayd, through family friends.
Like Vida, I was unsure what to do after I finished high school. At first, I went to Centennial College to become a pharmacy technician, but left after one year because I didn’t like the course.
I was more interested in hair, makeup and esthetics so, while I wasn’t sure my parents would approve of me entering this industry, I took the two-year course at Seneca with Vida. I enjoyed our whole time there. I was already into the subject matter, so I picked it up really fast. I decided this would be my career.
After graduating from Seneca, I took some time off to get married, then started to look for a job in the esthetics field.
I found one near our home in Ajax, Ont., at a spa called A Touch of Beauty. I did facials, manicures, waxing and other skin treatments, but didn’t get much experience because it was a part-time and short-term position, lasting just six months. I did get a good sense of how the management handled clients, though.
I found my next job with Angel Esthetics, also in Ajax, which is where I feel I really learned the business. I worked full-time and was there for four-and-a-half years, so I was able to learn a lot and become very good at what I did.
During this stint, I had my two children. My son Aryan was born when I was 24 and my daughter Neelofar when I was 26.
Vida and I came together again when we decided to open the Beautify Day Spa in Ajax.