Illustrator & CEO of Teecaake.

Born in Dhaka, Bangladesh and brought up in Manchester, England, Tahira is an undergraduate Materials Science and Engineering student at the University of Sheffield. Over the course of the last three years, she has found herself working on non-stop engineering projects which have been her outlet for creativity during her time in university.

Her passion however really lies in her artwork and business, Teecaake. Her art exemplifies many strong female figures both in the media and in history that inspire her. As a female of South Asian origin, having grown up in a city as vibrant as Manchester and now living in Sheffield, diversity and representation is extremely important to Tahira. Her aim is for her art to convey her views and who she is, but above all to inspire others.

What does diversity mean to you?

There are a few words that instantly come to mind whenever I think of diversity. Inclusion. Representation. Equality. Awesomeness! Diversity for the sake of diversity should not be glorified. Instead, institutions and companies and employers should treat all prospective candidates as equal and only then will we be able to achieve true diversity.

I want to be able to look around in a room and not be the only person who looks like me. I want to not have to second guess my ability or compensate my confidence to make someone else feel better when I know I have it in me to lead a task.

I am Muslim. I am a girl. I am British. I am Bangladeshi. I am an engineer. I am a scientist. I am an artist. I am a designer. I am a businesswoman. I am an innovator. To me, diversity is being comfortable in my own skin. To me, diversity is existing.

What inspired you to start your current journey?

I have wanted to be an artist for as long as I can remember. And despite going through life pursuing an academic career in the sciences, I always wanted to end up doing what I felt I was born to do.

After finishing sixth form in 2015, I had to take a gap year due to some visa issues. With all that free time I suddenly had, I fully immersed myself into creating art pieces after art pieces. Upon stumbling across some illustrators online and the success they had from working freelance alongside their normal jobs, I instantly decided I wanted to do the same.

At the time of the beginning of my journey, I did not come across anyone who was like me. No one I could find quite made art in my style and neither did they create art with the same intention as me. With an unsure year ahead of me, I felt I lacked a role model to look up to and follow in the path of. And so, I became my own role model and paved the way for what I felt was right. Three years later, I’m exactly where I wanted to be, and I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for me.

What is one thing you wish you knew five years ago?

What’s meant for you will find its way to you no matter what you do. Studying something other than what you really wanted to, is not the end of the world. Your true passion will sneak its way in the unlikeliest of circumstances.
Also, all parents are amazing, and they only ever want what’s best for you and nothing less. So, trust their instincts and know that they would never steer you wrong.

What is your advice to a young person starting their career or entrepreneurial journey?

Ask for help if you need it. If you’re unsure of something, take your time with it. Don’t rush into anything. Especially if money is involved. Planning what to do is always a great start and thinking wisely about what it exactly is that you want to invest in. There are so many resources available out there that can guide you through exactly how to start your own business or begin your journey into your dream career path.