Having an entrepreneurial spirit is something that is ingrained deep in the spirit of a person. It is a passion and drive to pour your soul into an idea. For Abdullah Zaki, this passion is what drove him to open Abyssinian Style, a cultural hub for fragrances and aromas located in Tucson, Arizona. What started as a stand at the Tanque Verde Swap Meet, became a fully operational store front located in the heart of Tucson in 2020.
While the drive to be an entrepreneur was always part of Abdullah, his journey to start a business was not always clear. For a large portion of his career, Abdullah worked as a manager for a series of convenience stores and fast foot restaurants. Although his professional career trajectory was on a path of growth, he always felt stifled and frustrated with the limitations of being able to implement his ideas. Being part of a corporate structure left him with little room for creative thinking. This frustration eventually sparked the idea to start a business of his own.
For 24 years, Abyssinian Style was operated as a successful stand at the local swap meet. While Abdullah knew that the swap meet route limited his ability to create his own hours and have a fully functional business, he also appreciated the low overhead and vibe that it offered. It wasn’t until the COVID-19 pandemic that Abdullah really began considering opening up a store front as they closed their doors and left many businesses like Abyssinian without a place to call home.
Having opened a business at the same time as a pandemic was underway presented many unforeseen challenges for Abdullah. Having spent time looking online for resources and assistance to no avail, left Abdullah feeling as if maybe the idea of opening a store front was maybe not the best decision. It wasn’t until one of his long time customers mentioned Prestamos CDFI and the Prime program that he felt a sense a relief. After applying and being accepted into the Prime program, Abdullah quickly began taking advantage of the technical assistance.
Through Prime and his Business Advisor, Hector, Abdullah feels that his thinking and approach to entrepreneurship has shifted and pushed him out of his comfort zone. “It has been such a positive experience and I am looking forward to fulfilling as many of the goals and objective that Hector and I have set for Abyssinian together”, says Abdullah of his experience with Prestamos CDFI. While he feels that challenges are inevitable in the entrepreneur world, he now has a different mindset and approach – his eyes are wide open and is ready to try new things thanks to his experience with Hector and the Prestamos CDFI Prime Program.
Part of what makes Abyssinian Style so successful is Abdullah’s care and attention to customer service, a skill he attributes to his time in the corporate sector. His belief is that doing right by the customer. This has allowed him to build a loyal customer base that has been coming to Abyssinian for years. He looks forward to the future and continues to build on his success and accomplishing his goals.
Prestamos exists to help nurture and grow entrepreneurs through their journeys. We are a mission-driven entity that operates under the non-profit Chicanos Por La Causa, which provides communities with resources ranging from health, education, financial services, housing, and advocacy. Prestamos continues its efforts to advance our work to provide high-quality financial products and services for small businesses that lead to impactful economic development projects. We invite you to visit our website, prestamosloans.org to learn more about our efforts and apply for a business loan.