Meet the Founder: Sawsan Malla

In this week’s Meet the Founder post, we are introducing you to Syrian artist Sawsan Malla, the first featured entrepreneur from our Female Founders Fellowship, a program geared towards growth-stage women entrepreneurs.

Stay tuned over the coming weeks to meet other member’s from Sawsan’s cohort!


Can you give a brief introduction about yourself?

I'm Sawsan Malla. I’m 26 years old and from Syria and currently live in Erbil. I studied at Al-Furat University in the College of Education, and I am an artist and founder of Ora Studio.

Can you tell us about your business? What inspired you to start it?

My business is about designing characters and creating illustrations, for example bookmarks, stickers and portraits. I also can create specific art based on people’s needs.

I was inspired to start this business because I am passionate about art, and my goal is to spread my artwork as much as possible so I can share it with others.

What are some of the challenges your business has faced and how have you addressed them?

My biggest challenge as a new person in this business is to prove myself because I don't have a strong network that could help me to become better known and have the opportunity to know more about art-related events. Funding for my business is also a challenge as I currently don't have enough financial support .

Can you tell us about your experience starting your business in Kurdistan?

It's something really great that I'm getting a new experience  with Five One Labs. I'm learning new things that could help me in my path way, and I'm finding it very exciting as I'm working on things that I'm really interested in. In addition, all the materials that I need for my art are available at Kurdistan.

How have you supported other women in your community ?

I do believe that women have their own existence in each community, and they can make a difference with their unlimited power. So, I would like to support all women to be independent, to follow their own dreams and to achieve their goals.

For me, I've helped my younger sister to improve herself in art and create her own crafts to start her own business when she get older.

What advice do you have for someone trying to start their own project or business?

My advice is :

  • you have to believe in yourself and your abilities.

  • read more about your business idea.

  • work on your weaknesses to improve it.

  • be positive.

  • get the inspiration from people who already have experience .

Why did you join the Female Founders Fellowship?

During my research on internet, I found Five One Labs and went through their website to find out more. My friends have given me great recommends about them, so I felt that it would be a great chance to join them and to be a part of their team. I'm thankful for this experience and all the knowledge that Five One Labs is giving me.

A selection of Sawsan’s most recent work.