Lail Hossain MS’04 is the founder of WithASpin, a company that designs and produces Islamic decorations and gifts for holidays, birthdays, weddings, baby showers and housewarming parties. Created in 2015, WithASpin has shipped items to over 900 cities around the world this year alone.
Despite the company’s success, an entrepreneurial life was not Hossain’s original plan when she moved to the United States from Bangladesh in 1998. After graduating from Jackson State University, Hossain took a job with PepsiCo in Plano, where she would earn a master’s in software engineering from the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science at UT Dallas. Hossain spent a total of 14 years working in the corporate sector with both PepsiCo and Deloitte Consulting.
Both companies offered challenging and rewarding careers that fulfilled Hossain’s drive to invest herself in her work. But when she became a mother, Hossain needed to find something that allowed her to dedicate herself to both her family and career.
“I loved my career in the corporate world,” Hossain said. “Once I became a mom, that lifestyle became a little difficult. But I knew I wasn’t going to be happy just as a mom, and I wasn’t going to be happy just working an 8-to-5 job.”
The origins of WithASpin were grounded in Hossain’s experience as an Islamic woman and new mother in America. While on maternity leave from Deloitte, Hossain began a blog to showcase Bangladeshi recipes with her own unique spin that made dishes more accessible to time-crunched cooks.
“During those six months, I needed to do something other than feeding my baby and being home alone,” Hossain said. “I started what essentially was a recipe blog, but now it’s evolved to modern living with an Islamic spin to it.”
When her daughter was 2 years old, Hossain tried to throw a party for friends and family during Ramadan but struggled to find things she needed to create a festive environment that fit the cultural celebration.
“Think about Christmas. When you leave the house in America, there are signs of the celebration everywhere,” Hossain said. “That’s how I grew up with our holidays in Bangladesh, you can see that the whole community celebrating with you. But it’s not like that here.”
Hossain could not even find basic moon and star cookie cutters for her daughter and friends to make dessert. She decided that before the next Ramadan, she would make a cookie cutter set of her own, and with that WithASpin took off.
“I was a full-time mom and didn’t have a lot of time to DIY things for parties,” Hossain said. “I figured there must be thousands of other parents and grandparents who were looking to make things festive for their families.”
Hossain was right, and her business now reaches customers around the globe. She has since expanded the business to work with several designers and freelancers, and even employs a high school intern. Thanks to her educational and professional background, Hossain still runs most of the technical and analytic side of the business herself.
“Without my software engineering or corporate experience, I couldn’t run my business the way it is. From the technical side, from the shop to the blog, I haven’t hired any developers, I built those from the ground up,” Hossain said.
After making the turn from the corporate world to owning and operating a successful small business, Hossain encourages students and professionals with entrepreneurial dreams to stay invested in the things that motivate them.
“Don’t give up, even if things don’t work out the first time,” Hossain said. “If you are passionate about something and put hard work into it, you will succeed.”