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Little Wings Gallery Takes Flight

Small business owner Cherie Balla teaches Oishee Alam the art of juggling work, family and a passion for design.

OA: Tell us about Little Wings Gallery. How did it all begin?
CB: Little Wings Gallery is all about creating modern Islamic art and designs to educate, inspire and delight, specialising in art for children. It came about while I was on maternity leave with my second child, and my role as a design director was made redundant. I decided to put my career on hold at that point so I could stay at home with my children, but I needed a creative outlet. After searching endlessly for contemporary Islamic art for my children’s rooms and finding nothing, I decided to create my own. It was then that I noticed a gap in the market that I could fill, which allowed me to combine my love for design, children and Islam. Alhamdulillah!

 

 

Fatihah

OA: The art featured at Little Wings Gallery is just gorgeous masha Allah – is your business a one-woman show? Do you design and create it all yourself?
CB: Yes, I design and create everything as well as run the business. But I can’t really call it a one-woman show as my husband, children and other family members help out and support me in various ways.

 

 

Arabic Alphabet Green

 

OA: What has the response to Little Wings Gallery been like from the Muslim and broader community?
CB: Starting out, I wasn’t sure what to expect as I was working in unchartered territory. But so far the feedback has been wonderful, and people really love the unique designs! I have customers from all over the world, which is really nice, and it makes my day when they take the time to say how much they enjoy the work. I’ve found people from the broader community either appreciate the work from a visual perspective or dismiss it completely because it is based on Islam.

 

 

 

Birth Record Girl

 

OA: What are the perks and challenges of running a small business from home?
CB: Every mother of young children knows there is never enough time in the day, so trying to juggle working from home and family is a challenge. However, it means that I get to share with my children those precious little moments that occur during the day that I’d miss out on if I wasn’t working at home.

 

OA: I noticed that two dollars from every piece sold at Little Wings Gallery is donated to Muslim Aid’s Orphan Aid Programme, and that you’ve also run campaigns donating your profits to Gazan and Syrian emergency appeals. Is the humanitarian aspect of your business always something you intended to pursue?
CB: From the very beginning I wanted to be able to use my skills in design to help benefit the Ummah. After over ten years in the design industry, working on large commercial brands that are preoccupied with sales and profits, I wanted to do something that was about helping people – even if it was in the smallest of ways. I decided that one way I could do this was to create Islamic art pieces that help educate ­­­children, and the other was to support a charity through my business.

 

 

99 Names Peacock Blue 2

 

OA: What are your best-selling products, and why do you think they’re so popular?
CB: The ‘99 Names of Allah Peacock’ is popular as it appeals not just to children but adults as well. It’s great for learning the 99 names and their meanings and is also a beautiful decorative piece for the home. I sell a lot from the Surahs Collection because each surah is available with either the Arabic transliteration and English meaning, making it easy to learn, or Arabic script. They also feature illustrations of animals made from the word ‘Allah’, which is a design unique to Little Wings Gallery. Custom orders are also very popular, and I love doing them! Custom orders allow people to personalise prints with a name, mix and match colours and illustrations or have something specially created for them.

 

 

Little Wings Gallery Logo

 

Cherie’s artwork can be purchased at www.littlewingsgallery.com, or through the Little Wings Gallery Facebook page at www.facebook.com/littlewingsgallery