Mom Between Cultures: Arab-Islamic & American

by Janan Zaitoun


Based on the title, you’re probably thinking: “What’s a jobby?”  Well, it’s a made-up word. It’s when you turn a hobby into a job.

We all wish we could make money from something we love doing. It sounds easier, and a lot more fun than waking up to a job we dislike. But is it?

To answer this question, I decided to conduct an experiment by searching for those who have jobbies as well as look for patterns to their success.

I had four major concerns:

1)      What were the ingredients these ladies used to turn their hobbies into jobbies?

2)      To what extent did writing down goals help accomplish them?

3)      Does creativity raise more money, or is it the other way around?

4)      Last but not least, does the hard work they invest in their jobbies rob the hobby of its joy, leaving these ladies with a stressful job in its place?

I decided to interview three women: Aiya Saqr, Mai Malkawi, and Lena Winfrey.  Miss Saqr has an agreement with a national clothing factory in Amman, Jordan to print her personal doodles on T-shirts and hoodies, while taking orders through her Facebook page ( She notes on her FB page that “5% of what you pay goes to buy medical equipment for those living in the Gaza Strip.”


Mai Malkawi, who is talented in writing and media work, took several courses in mass-communications, journalistic writing, and broadcasting.  She began making video blogs as a hobby, the videos of which become popular on Facebook and YouTube. They were soon noticed and eventually bought by Hayat Radio Station and Kharabeesh Production Company in Jordan.

A native of West Virginia, Lena Winfrey’s hobby is writing and she has just published her first non-fiction book: The Metamorphosis of a Muslim (  Her book has found the most popularity outside the US. A professor in India even contacted Mrs. Winfrey telling her that he plans to add her book to the reading requirements list of his literature class.  Last month, Mrs. Winfrey also started her own blog about the power of words (

After interviewing these women, I discovered the one common ingredient for their success: they had each spent time developing their talent. They did that by taking extra courses, attending conferences, and practicing, practicing, practicing.

Mrs. Lena Winfrey particularly stressed the importance of marketing and having the right “connections”. “You have to invest in being at the top, and improving yourself and your product. [Also,] you have to know who is interested in [your] jobby.”

As for the role that writing down their goals played, their answers were, once more, similar. While they didn’t keep to-do lists all of their lives, at some point they each wrote down their goals.

Miss Malkawi admitted that for years she did not write down any of her goals. However, she said that when she finally did, that “is what pushed several of my projects to success and turned them into jobbies.”

As for the question of whether creativity increases money or money increases creativity, I expected to hear the women say “it’s a two-way street.”  Instead, the answer I received from all three was that creativity brings in more money.  Miss Saqr summarized it best by saying “I have a personal philosophy to never sell anything I wouldn’t buy for myself, and thus the whole business stems from my own personal satisfaction.”

As for the question of how stressful their jobbies can become, they all expressed the same love for what they do. “I’d never trade it for the world!” said Miss Saqr, the doodler.

By Janan Robin Zaitoun


9 comments on “JOBbies

  1. jhodgkins
    February 22, 2012

    Interesting concept!

  2. raafatnagib
    February 23, 2012

    good start ….keep writing

  3. Shams
    February 23, 2012

    Mashaa Allah on them and you 🙂
    you are truly talented like them 😉

  4. Thanks for sharing. Good work.

  5. rafe
    February 25, 2012

    افكار رائعة وموفقة انشاء الله , قلما لا يكون هذا الموقع باللغة العربية لتعميم الفائدة

  6. Sana'a
    March 4, 2012

    Today, I have received the link for your page from one of my friends. When I read your topic, I was really surprised and shocked as I felt it was kind of a message for me!!
    I am a double master holder and I work as an academic instucter and trainer for a well-known university. After several years of work experience, I consider myself as a highly qualified and skilled person in the academic field as well as in many different areas.
    I like to do many things, I am a fine arts and graphic design lover. I love to decorate, paint and create my own clothing styles and I love to spend most of my time in kitchen preparing the most difficult as well as traditional Palestinian food for my family and friends! I always get extra ordinary feedback on my cooking.
    In the past few years, I have been thinking to using my favorite hobby (the cooking) and start my own business. My main goals are to spread out a high quality Palestinian food around the world and to bring to the singles who are living in UAE and away from their families and parents the home-made taste of their mothers’ cooking.
    Currently, I am in the process of doing so and your above topic has happily inspired me.

    Thanks to you and well done to the three brilliant ladies.
    All the best

    • Janan Zaitoun
      March 4, 2012

      I can’t tell you how happy your comment made me 🙂
      I too share your love of cooking. I especially like baking. I often dream about opening my own restaurant or bakery. Maybe one day, you and I, will.
      My advice to you would be: Start small. Maybe take orders for special occasions. Spread the word amongst your friends. And May Allah make your dream come true, insha’Allah 🙂

      And by the way, I’m making (Kabsah) today 😉

  7. Sana'a
    March 5, 2012

    Don’t tell me.. OMG, I just cooked Kabsah too… 🙂 what a great coincident..!!!
    It looks like we have the same ideas… As you mentioned, maybe one day you and I will have our own restuarant!

    Thank you again and regards

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This entry was posted on February 22, 2012 by in Creativity Within Cultures.


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